12: Mommy, Your Head Is Wrong!

12: Mommy, Your Head Is Wrong!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less

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Mommy, Your Head Is Wrong!

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

~Angela Schwindt

It was a busy day, but as a single mom with a full-time job and two young children to care for, this was nothing unusual. I had just gotten home from my job as an elementary school teacher and I had less than thirty minutes to feed the kids and shuttle them to their afterschool activities.

Both of my children were sitting at the table, not so patiently waiting for dinner to be served. The kids had been bickering since I’d picked them up from daycare, and I was feeling a bit irritable from refereeing.

I was dashing back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room, ferrying bowls of food on each trip. As I leaned over my three-year-old daughter to place a bowl of green beans on the table, I realized that she was staring at me.

“What’s wrong, Julia?” I asked. “Are you okay?”

She shook her head, eyes wide, and continued to stare at my face.

I reached for a paper napkin, assuming the spaghetti sauce had splattered on me. But before I could wipe my face, Julia grabbed my arm. “Don’t, Mommy. Don’t touch it,” she said urgently.

“Why not?”

“Because your head is wrong.”

“My head is wrong?” I asked. “How could my head be wrong?”

She nodded vigorously. “It’s wrong, Mommy. Up here, it’s wrong.” She touched my forehead gently with her chubby fingers.

My hand followed hers. I felt my forehead, which at that moment, was a mass of stress-induced wrinkles.

Julia nodded again. “See, I told you. Your head is wrong.”

I chuckled and tried to ignore the less than subtle reminder that I was indeed getting older. “It’s not wrong, sweetheart. Mommy’s head just gets like that when I’m really busy.”

“Well, when you’re busy, your head looks mad,” she insisted.

“But Mom is always busy,” piped up my six-year-old son, Jordan.

I began to explain that I always had so much to do, but I stopped short. In my children’s logic, if busy equals mad, did that mean that I always looked angry to them?

What a scary thought.

I sat down at the table, dinner quickly forgotten. I rubbed the deep grooves on my forehead and looked at each of my children.

“What are you doing, Mom?” Jordan asked.

“Taking a break,” I answered softly, knowing that the three of us clearly needed one. After thinking for a moment, I asked them if they would be okay with skipping their activities that evening. “Let’s stay in tonight and just be together,” I suggested.

“Can we play Go Fish?” Julia asked.

“Of course,” I said, giving her a hug.

“Can we watch a movie and eat popcorn?” Jordan asked.

“Absolutely,” I answered with a grin.

That night, the three of us relaxed and spent time together. We played games and hung out, something we rarely did during our hustle and bustle weeks.

During a game of Connect Four, Jordan said, “Mom, I like it better this way. Staying home sometimes feels good.”

I smiled. “You’re right.”

“So I was thinking, do I have to sign up for soccer again next year? Because I really like playing hockey better anyway. And I think one thing is enough for me.”

I laughed so hard that tears filled my eyes. “I’ve been thinking the same thing for months, but I didn’t want to disappoint you,” I said.

Jordan grinned. “I won’t be disappointed. I’ll feel better because I’ll have more nights like this one.”

As I hugged my son, I could feel a burden lift from my shoulders. “More nights like this one is exactly what we need,” I said.

At bedtime, while I was reading a story to Julia, I caught her studying my face once again.

“What now, honey?” I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.

She smiled and touched my forehead. She said, “Mommy, you fixed it. Your head is right again.”

I smiled back, grateful that my priorities were finally straightened out as well.

~Diane Stark

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