We agreed, my thirteen-year-old twins and I, to ‘give back’ rather than making new-year resolutions last January. The first Saturday of every month we unpack crates of canned food, personal products, and non-perishables at the local food bank.
This past Friday night, after a day filled with end-of-the-school-year parties, Will asked, “Mom, will you wake me at 7:00 so I can shower before we go to the food bank? I’m too tired now.”
“Sure, what about you, Ollie?”
“Yes please,” he responded with a smile.
The next morning, I woke them at 7:00 sharp. At 7:30, without hearing a sound from them, I returned to find them still sleeping. Wait a second I thought. We committed to this together. And here they were, not even out of bed.
“Ollie, it’s 7:30. Get moving.” I repeated this with more urgency to his twin.
I’m not a naggy parent. Or a helicopter or a ‘lawn mower’ mom. But today, as I drove to the food bank unaccompanied, my emotions ran red. Anger that my boys didn’t keep their promise to me, themselves or the food bank. Stress that they’d become slackers when an easy opportunity to opt-out existed. I felt frustrated, alone, and short changed. Most of all I was disappointed that we’d lost this time together.
As I headed home I questioned why and how this fell apart. And what I would say to these errant boys of mine. Give them a healthy helping of my disappointment? Demand an explanation? Apply some logical consequence or punishment?
I texted them when I was nearly home. No response.
Will greeted me at the door, “Mom, I am so sorry. Will you go to the food bank with me next Saturday?”
“Yes, of course,” I smiled at him. The outer shell of my angst slipped away.
A barely awake Ollie entered the room. “Did you go by yourself, Mom?”
“I didn’t mean to sleep in, Mom. I like helping at the food bank.”
Will said, “Ollie, I told Mom I’d go with her to the food bank next Saturday. You wanna come?”
“I can’t, Mom. I have a basketball camp. I can still go to the camp, can’t I, Mom?”
“What would you do if you were me?”
“If I were you, I’d give us credit for being great almost all the time.”
That’s exactly what I did. The sincere and generous words they spoke revealed their true nature to me. And I realized that they, like me, over do it, get tired, and make mistakes.