When I went to pickup my kids from the Grands last week I saw some small book that I can’t remember the title of on the kitchen counter. I picked it up while making conversation and started flipping through the pages. My eyes caught a page titled “The Time My Mom Stood Up For Me” and, although the author’s story was not all that relatable to my life, the title drew me back to a time when I remember my mom stood up for me, and she seemed so tall in that moment.
My mom has dealt with a lot of challenges in my lifetime. She dealt with teenage pregnancy in an age when it was NOT exploited by magazines and TV shows like Teen Mom – but instead, her Catholic highschool expelled her, as if this sort of thing were contagious or something – and she spent the summer in a home for unwed mothers (do these places even exist anymore?).
Although she managed to finish high-school – in spite of having a second child less than a year after my birth – drug abuse and a host of other challenges came into our household as she struggled for independence.
My mom and I have had an extremely rocky relationship and oftentimes several years would pass where we would not speak one word to eachother. The relationship was restored, by the grace of God, when I found out I was pregnant with my little ones.
Recently, for the first time in 7 years, we have faced a pretty big disagreement which has caused us to stop communicating for a while – and so I grew particularly nostalgic when the title of that chapter, “The Time My Mom Stood Up For Me”, drew me back to that time.
I was about nine years old and had walked up to the park a block over from my house to meet my friends one afternoon. To get to the park I would trek down the dirt path along the side of the railroad tracks and then down the street a half block. This required passing the house where the neighborhood bullies lived. They were a brother and sister duo who sometimes acted like the park was an extension of their rental property. I was relieved to see that no one was on the porch. This relief was shortlived, however, when my eyes landed on the group of kids already playing at the park and them there – with MY friends! Ugh! I joined the group – and surprisingly enough, it seemed they weren’t as rough as they put off when they would stare at you with those beady eyes and greasy spiked hair while shouting obscenities and throw things at kids from the front porch of their house.
Remember the bully kid “Sid” from the Toy Story? The image of him takes me back to the kids on the porch. I digress, the afternoon seemed to be going pretty well until one of the “Sids” finished their punch and dared me to smash the glass container on the ground. I was NOT a daredevil at this point in my life, in fact, I got my kicks doing what I was supposed to do. However I succumbed to peer-pressure and being double-dog-dared anyways, since I didn’t want to seem like the scaredy-cat I really was. I took the glass container in my hands, lifted it over my head, took a deep breath in and smashed it into a million little pieces on the concrete. As soon as the ring of the shattering glass rang out shrieks and giggles as the group of kids scattered. My heart was pounding and my head filled with the rush of adrenaline as I stood there looking at the shards of glass reflecting in the sun. Before I could revel in my new-found defiance, from my left I saw a figure barreling across the street towards us. “Sid-the-Bully’s” mom, of all people! I knew that she was coming for me, and why she was, and every ounce of defiance I had ran away with my friends who were nowhere to be found. I immediately stooped down to start picking up the shattered pieces of glass.
Her wide shadow towered over me, haloed by the sun reflecting off of her bleach blonde feathered hair as I was crouched down near the scene of the crime picking up the larger chuncks of glass. I struggling to fight tears back – as to not lose my new-found cool points – as she shouted at the top of her lungs about how irresponsible I was (which I was), and inconsiderate (agreed), and a host of other accusations including the statement “why would you do something like this!” (my nine-year-old self wanted to tattle, your kids made me do it, lady!). There were many cuss words peppered in throughout this rant as she continued on, stopping me from picking up anymore glass and sending me home, threatening to call the police if she saw me around here anymore. I apologized and apologized to her, finally losing my cool, tears a-streaming, offering to help clean it up and saying again just how sorry I was. I can look back now and see the many ways she was right, not gracious, but still right.
When I got home with tears still flowing from my eyes my mom turned into momma-bear as I explained the wrong I’d done, how sorry I was, and how I couldn’t go back to the park anymore for fear of being arrested. She grabbed my hand and we walked back up to the park to see if we could make this right.
We approached the park and before my mom could even say a word “Sid’s Mom” comes towards us to tell my mom just what a horrible child I was and all the details of what I’d done. Expletives included. She began to tell my mom that I even swore at her when she came over to me to reprimand me for what I’d done. My mom is not a fighter and hates confrontation, but still, she did not pause in her reply to defend me and ask the lady if she’d ever made a mistake in her life before. She also knew my nine-year-old self would never swear, especially at an adult. My mom reminded her that I had apologized and offered to clean up the mess and stated that I was a good kid who just made a mistake which didn’t warrant this type of verbal battering. “Sid’s Mom” didn’t want to hear this, she apparently enjoyed confrontation and wanted to egg it on – my mom didn’t back down and told her that we would be dealing with this at home and that I would be back at the park to play when I was given permission.
We were quiet as we walked back home and this story never came back up, but I never forgot it.
Thanks for standing up for me, Mom.
Romans 5:8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
You’ve got cool points on my score card –
P.S. Is there a time someone stood up for you? I’d love to hear it!