Fiction or Memory – A Mother’s Story

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The truck was stifling hot, but I sat there, both hands on the wheel, tears streaming down my face, breath hiccoughing and short. I’d walked out before the argument could escalate any farther, that was a step in the right direction.

It had started about the dishes. Of all the stupid things to fight about. I just wanted them done without the bickering, without the horseplay and insults that fly between brothers. I just wanted them clean and put away before lunch. Why could they not do that? It isn’t like they had a long, demanding list of chores. They had two: clean the bathroom once a week and do the dishes.

“We are doing them! Why can’t we do them our way and have fun while we are doing them?”

“Because your ‘fun’ makes me a nervous wreck, you guys. The point of doing the dishes without me is so that I can have half an hour to read. I can’t read if you guys sound like you’re on the verge of a physical battle.”

“We’re not. We’re just playing.”

They’re young boys and the mood can go from teasing to serious in a flash, without any warning to the other. And it grates my nerves to hear them fight and bicker like this.

“Just do the dishes quietly and be nice for a few minutes, please. I want to read. Please help me. I need this.”

I settle down on the couch but before I can get to the end of the paragraph they start again. Sighing quietly to myself, I put the book down. I can’t go help and separate them. They need to learn to work together. Listening to them giggle should make me smile, but the tension in my neck starts to rise with every titter. The tone changes and then the insults start…again.

I can’t take it. I’m going to yell if I have to keep listening to this. I put the book back on the coffee table and head through the kitchen to the front door. I grab my car keys as I pass them and they both look up from the sink.

“Where are you going?”

“I need to be alone awhile,” I say as I choke back tears. “I’m going for a drive.” I try not to slam the front door behind me as I head to the truck.

And here I am again. I’m patting myself on the back for not yelling or falling apart. But I still feel like a madwoman. If anyone saw the scene, they’d wonder what was upsetting me. What is it about those two play fighting that bothers me so much? Kids fight. Why do I get so upset?

Maybe if I’m not there they’ll get it done and I won’t stress out. But shit, they’re missing the whole point. I could easily do them myself. I really just wanted the extra half hour to read…or maybe just to myself? Maybe going for a drive is exactly what I need. I just need to be out of the way so they can work it out without me.

Starting the truck and blasting the air-conditioner, I tune to my favorite radio station, back out of the driveway and head down our dirt road. Where will I go? I have no idea. I decide to just head away from the house for fifteen minutes and then head back. As I drive and sing along to the music, the tension slides away and I smile. Another step in the right direction.

Will the dishes be done when I return? If one of them does try to kill the other, will their Dad step in before it goes too far? Of course. I keep driving. I just needed to get away for a moment.

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