It was one of those mornings. Except I didn’t realize it yet.
We made the half hour trip to Wegmans to stock up on some bulk items, get some organic produce for reasonable prices, and buy some rose water to make Turkish Delight for my husband’s students who are reading The Chronicles of Narnia. It was a bit of a wild goose chase, but we found the stuff and we were about to check out and go have a date at the cafe.
My stuff was halfway scanned and bagged, when, to my horror, I realized that I had left my wallet in the purse I took to rehearsal a couple of nights before. With my credit card, cash, and ID. At home. The uncomfortable reality of the situation settled in. I can’t pay for this food. And I’m 30 minutes from home. And I just spent over an hour here. With my two hungry kids. And we can’t have our date now.
The cashier was very kind. She rang me out, suspended my order, and took it to customer service to hold until I could return. The woman behind me was also very kind. She looked at me empathetically and told me she had done it before too. But when I told my son this meant we couldn’t have our date, he burst into howling tears at full volume in the front of the store.
As we walked out into the cold stinging rain of the parking lot, I tried to tell J calmly that I couldn’t do anything to change things, and I was sorry, and we were just going to have to drive home, get my wallet, and come back. He despaired. My frustrations heightened.
“Please, stop crying. I’m trying as hard as I can to make this right. I’m just as sad about it as you are!” I pleaded.
“I can’t, mama!” J replied. “I could cry all the way home!.”
“Me too,” I answered. “I know exactly how you feel.”
I called my husband to see if he had enough cash with him at work so I could stop by there. He didn’t. I called my mother to see if she was out running errands already. She wasn’t. I was about to crack when she asked what was wrong. I told her, and bless her heart, she said she would drive out to meet me (she lives closer to the store than I do). She volunteered to pay for my groceries so I could write her the check that the store wouldn’t accept without my ID.
I hope you won’t think too badly of me if I tell you that when I got off the phone with her, I lost it. I sobbed in that rainy parking lot with V sitting on my lap and playing with the windshield wipers. I was wailing right along with my son, lost in a flood of annoyance and distress that I had wasted so much time and gas by committing that one little error- not grabbing my wallet. And I was embarrassed- almost 30, and I still have to call my mom to come help me out of a bind?!? And maybe I was hormonal too. Let’s blame it on that, shall we?
And then J, compassionate boy that he is, asked if could sit with me. He said he could give me some of his cars to cheer me up.
And I couldn’t help but laugh. I was crying like I lost a pet or a family heirloom, but the only thing that had actually went wrong was wallet misplacement. In fact, we had been having a perfectly pleasant morning beforehand!
Suddenly, a realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m acting out in frustration just like my four year old would. I’m throwing my own fit. I’m acting like a child. Yet I expect him to stop his moaning so quickly?
Maybe, sweet J, it’s really been me who has given you your tendencies to act out. Maybe it’s been me who has discouraged you from using calm words. Maybe we’re more alike than we think, and maybe we actually understand each other better than we realize most of the time.
We both get upset quickly. We both talk incessantly. We both dance a lot. We both laugh at the same things. We both get mixed up sometimes. We both make goofy faces. We’re both forgetful and disorganized. We both like free hugs and kisses. We both have days that we act like bears, and we both can make up and forgive quickly.
I think- even though we don’t always remember it- that we’re two of a kind. Thank you for teaching me this today. I hope I can remember it more frequently, and I hope I can be a little more patient as a result.
And I love you always.