Tonight, while eating out with friends, I heard Ethan cackling and out of the corner of my eye, I could see him pointing at something. I turned to see what he was pointing at and with sudden horror, I realized he was pointing at a little boy wearing a girls' ski coat (and it wasn't even MY little boy - for once...). I felt as if my stomach dropped straight to the floor as my heart ripped from one emotion onto the next...fury, sadness, surprise, devastation, disbelief. After all, after everything that I've been preaching, how could one of my own be making fun of someone for something that I feel so passionate about? What was he thinking!?
Outraged, I called Ethan over to me and with tears in my eyes, I furiously addressed his behavior, hissing at him, his face just inches from my own. I was overcome with sadness, angry that Ethan had let me down in this way, that he had openly rebuked my most important teachings and missed an opportunity to set a good example in front of one of his friends. Since my last post, I've had so many messages pouring in to me about what an amazing mom people think I am, and tonight, I felt like a fraud. I've been joking to people that pay me compliments that this is all a facade...and now I feel like I was right. How can I expect society to accept and respect Eli's quarks when I'm failing to teach my own family how to do it!?
At home, behind closed doors, I told Adam what had happened. He was just as exasperated and disappointed as I was and we calmly sat Ethan down and explained to him why that behavior was so hurtful. I told him about the year I was in third grade when I was the target of constant teasing. I told him how I cried at school almost every day and that I would pretend I was sick and go to the nurse so that she would call my mother to come pick me up and that almost thirty years later, I still remember how bad that felt. I told him that making fun of someone is a really, really big deal, even if they don't hear you. I even let him read my last two blog posts and when he finished, he had tears in his eyes. He cried, telling me how embarrassed he was and that he never should have laughed at the little boy in the purple coat. I asked Ethan if he knew what he was doing was wrong when he was laughing and he said, "I did hear a little voice telling me it was not a good idea."
I hugged him and said quietly, "That little voice in your head is always right. Always listen to that voice. That little voice will never let you down." And then I said, "Did you read on my blog about how much I love Eli and how I will love him no matter what? That's how I feel about you, too. I love you so much and I will always, always love you." I'm still shaking my head at what happened, but I have to remind myself that Ethan is just 7 and is still learning how to be the best he can be. And I'm still learning the best way to teach him that.
I've been pretty hard on myself the last few months, wishing that I was doing "more" with my life rather than "just being a mother", but as I sat there with Ethan, snuggled in his bed, I realized just how much these two little boys of mine need my mothering. They may need me for different reasons, but they need me. Tonight, I was reminded that being a mother to those boys isn't just my job, it's my life's work.