The Yelling by Julie Wheaton & Patrece Powers, Contributing Bloggers
I once complimented a friend on what a good mom I thought she was. “I’d be a better one if I didn’t yell so much,” she said. “I can’t seem to stop the yelling.”
Lately, most of my yelling occurs at 7:15 a.m. Three mornings a week, I drive a carpool to middle school. The four families in the carpool live next door to each other, so our agreement is to meet on the sidewalk at 7:10 and leave the neighborhood by 7:15. My son, who’s fourteen, will sometimes ask who’s driving on a particular morning. If I tell him it’s my morning to drive, I notice his pace slows just a tad, as if he doesn’t have to leave on time because his mom is driving.
At 7:15, the yelling starts. “Come on,” I say, heading for the front door. “It’s 7:15. We need to leave now! Let’s go. The other kids are already out front!”
He yells back, “Mom, we don’t have to leave so early. All we do is wait ten minutes for class to start!”
“But there are three other people in the carpool who might need more time to get to class!”
“No, they don’t!”
And so it goes, with the volume increasing as each of us repeats our position on the issue. This morning, I was tired of the yelling. He can tell time, I thought. He can hear the front door locking behind me. I wasn’t mad. I just wanted to keep my promise to the other families in the carpool by leaving on time. Instead of yelling, I would try to be more self-contained. In other words, I would mind my own business.
At 7:10, my son wasn’t ready to go, but I didn’t mention it. I locked the front door behind me and unlocked my car so the other boys could get situated. I backed out of the driveway slowly, expecting my son to race barefoot out the front door with his backpack in one hand and his shoes in the other. He didn’t, so I drove the other three kids to school.
On the way home, I kept checking the sidewalk across the street to see if my son had started walking to school, or maybe he’d be riding his bike. I stayed in the left-hand lane in case I’d need to make a quick U-turn to pick him up. We’d been through this before, and I knew he’d be upset that I left without him. When I didn’t see him on the route to school, I turned onto our street. Surely he’d be waiting on the driveway, fuming and flustered. But he wasn’t there either.
I pulled into the driveway, opened the front door, and walked into the house. It was quiet. Sixty seconds later I heard, “Are you ready Mom?”
“Yep,” I replied. Did he realize that I’d already driven to school and back? We met at the door, walked to the car, and drove to school without one word about him being late or me leaving without him—just some small talk while the radio played in the background. Hey, this self-containment thing might be catching!
Fortunately, the Goddess of Green Lights was blessing us at every intersection, and my son arrived at school with one minute to spare. In the end, it turned out that we were both right. I needed to leave at 7:15, and he didn’t.
Julie Wheaton and Patrece Powers co-authored A Fairy Godmom’s Book of Reminders: Trusting What You Know About Being a Mom. Julie is a mother of three who resolved the stay-at-home/working-mom dilemma by building a shed (for herself, not the kids) in her small suburban backyard. Contact her at email@example.com. Patrece is the founder of P Systems, a non-profit corporation established in 1983 to promote research and development in the various uses of human energy. P Systems produces resource material for individuals, couples, families, corporations, educational institutions, and the entertainment industry. For details, visit www.p-systemsinc.com