Aside from the Mother’s Days in the years of infertility testing and treatments, Mother’s Day, 2014, will likely go down as the worst one ever. Had I written about it last week, it would have been raw and painful, and I probably would have regretted some of my words. Instead, I decided to take the week off of blogging. A week later, I can laugh and share our adventures.
The morning of Mother’s Day started off nicely enough. We were camping in Abilene State Park. I awakened to chirping birds and a cool breeze blowing through the pop-up camper windows. Everyone was still asleep, and I spent several minutes enjoying the calmness and solitude.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” I said to myself as I lovingly gazed at my dear husband beside me and our four younger children who had accompanied us on this trip.
Then it started. Someone rolled over and took too much covers. The unhappily uncovered child deemed roll-over child an “idiot,” and there was a strategically placed punch followed by a kick. In less than 30 seconds, a full-scale fight erupted, and the entire camper was rocking back and forth. The commotion woke up children #3 and #4, one of whom grumpily started yelling, demanding the fight stop.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” I mumbled under my breath as I exited the camper and headed to the bathroom.
On the way back from the shower facilities, I was stared down by a seven year-old camper. As I passed him, he mustered his most menacing tone to tell me, “Gonna kick your butt, Old Lady. Gonna kick your butt.” This was in response to my previously asking his dad to observe park quiet hours by stopping his son and his friends from playing flashlight soccer at 3 a.m.
I looked at my little enemy and smiled. “Happy Mother’s Day,” I said cheerfully.
The rest of the morning was spent cleaning up the campsite and packing our things, interspersed with grumbling and complaining, heated discussions about appropriate vs. inappropriate clothing, and the occasional fight between siblings. By the time we left the campground, it was almost 1 p.m. We went down the highway to Lake Abilene, which is basically a 600-acre mudhole.
Josiah, Gideon, Esther, and Syd were exploring the lake bottom, when Gideon ventured out too far and sank knee-deep in the orange sandy mud. In the struggle to extract himself from the “quicksand,” Gideon lost his shoes and was so covered in mud that we had to return to the state park for him to shower and change.
“What a lovely Mother’s Day,” I sarcastically intoned for anyone who cared to listen…which was no one.
By 3:30, we were in Abilene. Everyone was hungry, and rather than have the picnic I had planned for the park which was three hours down the road, we decided to go to Long John Silver’s for lunch – because Long John Silver’s is EXACTLY my first choice for fine dining on Mother’s Day. A certain child was very irritated about being required to wear decent clothing, so that person gave Syd and I a verbal lashing, pointing out that we were the most ridiculous parents in the world, blah, blah, blah. This kiddo refused to eat lunch, and instead spent the entire time grousing about what lousy parents we were.
“Best Mother’s Day Ever,” I whispered to Syd.
An hour of driving later, our Honda van’s tachometer spiked beyond 7500 rpm, and I noticed an awful burning smell. Syd pulled over immediately, checked the transmission, replaced some fluid, and after about 45 minutes of deliberation in 98-degree weather, determined we could cautiously proceed home.It seems our van’s transmission couldn’t handle the load of pulling our pop-up camper at high speeds on the west Texas hills with a full load of 6 passengers and our gear. Syd figured we could make it home if we kept our speed around 55 mph and didn’t use the air conditioning. Did I mention it was 98 degrees outside? So, looking like something out of Grapes of Wrath, we proceeded down the road, the wind doing awful things to the girls’ hair, and the heat making grumpy people even grumpier. The one plus side – all of the road noise drowned out the complaints and arguments.
"Happy Mother's Day," I groused as I descended into a full-fledged pity party. I piously tried to mask it by busily crocheting granny squares all the while complaining about not having a decent vehicle for traveling.
David and our friend, Joel, met us in Gainesville, hooked the camper to David’s truck, and hauled it the 90 remaining miles home. We arrived home about 10:30 pm -- wind-blown and road-weary. The van had done amazingly well, all things considered. Everyone grabbed their belongings and hauled them in the house. After baths, an exhausted group of travelers fell into their beds.
In the midnight hour, I crept into each room to check on the children. I felt my own anger and frustration melt away as I breathed a silent prayer over each one. “Happy Mother’s Day,” I whispered, thanking God for answering my desperate pleas of 25 years ago and giving me the opportunity to be a mom. I wouldn’t trade my messy life for any other – although I wouldn’t mind having a decent vehicle for traveling with the camper...and a day without arguing would be the best gift ever! J