The phrase was invented to thwart Mother Wrath and reduce any hard working mother to putty in her kids’ hands. And, it is guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned Veteran Mom.
Picture this scene. I’m dedicating my already sore fingers to a mound of fresh vegetables, trying to prepare a truly nutritious and wholesome meal for my family of four. A loud crash echoes from our basement. My heart hammers in my chest as I brake for the stairs, my mind rolling through a list of possible casualties. My foot slips on the carpet, but I manage to right myself before breaking my neck.
My girls stand side by side near the fireplace, ready for battle. My eldest’s quivering voice pleads, “I’m sorry Mom, but we couldn’t help it.” It’s all part of the act.
I stare in mild shock as my new brass and glass candleholder lay in shattered on the bricks and surrounding carpet. My youngest has the offending basketball tucked under her arm as she claims, “It was an accident.”
“But you know you’re not supposed to play with balls in the family room,” I explain, trying to fend off their defense. My anger boils just below the surface.
They look up at me with repentant eyes. “We’re really sorry Mom,” my oldest appeals, tipping her head to one side. It was a masterful move sure to melt even the most hardened heart.
“We’ll buy you a new one,” her sister adds with the precision of a skilled lawyer. There was no way a few coins will cover the cost. I can’t afford to replace it.
Disappointment replaces my anger as I stoop down and pick up a piece of the crackled-finish glass. “I’ll help you Mommy.” My older daughter rests her small hand on my shoulder.
Meanwhile, my youngest carries the offending ball into the next room, returning with the wastebasket. She holds up the brass base of my broken treasure. “This is still good.”
I gently run my fingers over the shiny metal before sliding it into the trash. “It’s not any good without the other part,” my voice explains barely above a whisper.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot my eldest picking up a piece of glass. I suck in a breath, trying to calm my fears. In one smooth swoop, I grab her wrist, slipping potential harm from her tiny fingers.
I banish the two with the rigorous sentence of sitting quietly on the couch to watch television until supper. Their smiles tell me the defense has won another case. No matter, they’re quiet, giving me a chance to clean up and regain my equilibrium after swimming through a sea of emotions.
As I’ve heard the words, “I’m sorry Mom, but I couldn’t help it,” repeated over the years, I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t God’s way of helping a tired mother control her anger. For that, I am grateful. But, I’d feel truly blessed if I never had to hear these words again.
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As a mom of 3, I love this story! You wrote in a very authentic and genuine way, which relates well to this reader. You have a wonderful balance of emotion and background. Well done.
11 Mar 2008
Oh, so very cute! I could picture the scene from beginning to end, and breath a sigh of relief that I am beyond the age of having the same experience as you went through. You sound like a very forgiving and loving mother. Although I never had children of my own, I have had many-a-youngster under my care....So glad those days are over. It makes me tired to think about it...Ho! Hum! ... Very lighthearted story...God bless!...Helen
This article has so much potential for a real tear-jerker and for some reason you backed off. I thought some of your word choices were generic and that's not necessarily a bad thing in some contexts, but I really feel as if you really could have taken us, your readers, on a real tour of your home the day your offspring offered a sacrifice to the basketball idol. For example, "anger" is a very common word and often over used when a thesaurus will serve well to find another way to say the same thing. Otherwise, a good read and one I would like to see again should you choose to rewrite it.