Life as a terrible mother

This year when we traveled south for the winter, our daughter Lunny, came with us. She was training for a summit happening soon, so worked out at each sibling’s stop.

The first exercise saw her and her 8-year-old nephew, Dane, walking a 200-step incline at a park. After the first trip up and down, Dane asked if they were done. She said her goal was to do it six more times and he looked almost as downtrodden as I would have. I actually started up the stairs but at the three-quarter mark, my thighs remembered they weren’t being paid to suffer and began complaining, “Who thought this was a good idea?” They really hated Lunny for the idea; even thought she didn’t make them go, they felt the need to blame someone.

The next day, Lunny, like a gazelle, ran up a mountain. Her older brother, Tug, the greyhound, walked up. I’ve explained that I’m a dachshund, so I walked behind for a while. When I say a while, I mean until I realized I was by myself and my thighs, after those stairs the day before, were very whiny. It was a great time to decide I was the captain of my ship, the driver of my bus, and the author of my book. I’d just turned around to start down when a middle-aged man, in shorts and knee braces, came huffing and puffing, making his way up. With my brows furrowed, I listened to him for a moment as I watched him continue upward, then took out my phone and in my notes, wrote, “Note to self — being fit is way overrated and since we all have to die of something, my new goal is for my demise to be by Hersheys.”

I’d panted several stories at a steep incline and, coming down, in the far distance I saw a parking lot and was startled. My first thought was, “Holy mother of God, is that where we parked, so far, far away?” And then, “Would an ambulance come up this walking path?” I slogged my way around a corner and much to my relief saw where we’d actually parked, much, much closer and there was Gar, sitting on a bench waiting. He’s such a smart man and so wise. We’d never catch him on an upgrade without good reason. Why can’t I be like him? After all, I’m beginning to look like him and shaving twice a day is not off the table.

As we left that city to continue onward, Dane and I were both in tears when he said he wished we didn’t have to go. I’m pretty sure none of them were quite so sad after finding, then texting a photo of, “someone’s” hemorrhoid cream that was inadvertently left behind. I texted them back, “Maybe it’s Lunny’s.” And then I guffawed out loud. They asked where we would be spending the night?  I answered, “Lunny and Dad are taking turns driving but can’t agree how far to go. Dad says 500 miles, Lunny says 800. I’m up for them having a leg wrestling match in the next gas station’s parking lot. I’ve tried to think about miles but I can’t. I just can’t think, knowing Lunny left her hemorrhoid cream.” I was sitting in the back and read the text to the two figures up front. Lunny, who was riding shotgun, spun around, pale and a little alarmed, and with absolute seriousness, said, “You put a little ‘jk’ for joking in that text didn’t you?” Still roaring with laughter and with tears running down my face, I assured her I did not. Torturing my offspring might be my most favorite pastime. I’m a terrible, horrible mother. It’s a stumper that my children didn’t grow up to steal hubcaps.

That night found us in Wichita Falls, Texas, right off the interstate. I won’t say it was a sketchy neighborhood — and really I wasn’t too concerned about the bottom of my shoes being cleaner than the carpet, but I did put the cooler full of homemade items inside the locked truck. Gar’s toolboxes were left out to fend for themselves, but something I baked? Heck no. When I got back in the motel room, Gar had his 357 on the night table, and then I got nervous.

We left the next morning after eating a waffle with no butter.  I thought I might die. I’m suing the hotel. Unclaimed hair on the pillowcase? Fine. No butter? That’s going too far.


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