The day had seemed long when Gabby opened the back door to the kitchen. It wasn’t that she felt sad, more like empty. Unsure of why she felt this way, she knew she felt like she needed a hug, a tight one, one that said, “You are all right the way you are.” Mom was already busy in the kitchen. Apparently she had school work because the computer was surrounded by a ton of books. Mom was attending college and that kept her very busy. There was something in the oven, and something on the stove, and Mom was racing around like she was in a big hurry to get somewhere. Obviously she had no time for Gabby tonight.
Mom turned her head when she heard the door close and called out, “Thank goodness you are home. I have a study group at the college tonight at 5:30 so I have to leave in an hour. I need you to finish getting dinner ready, set the table, and make some iced tea for your father.”
Gabby just stood there. So much for that hug she was thinking about. No time for Gabby at all.
“What’s that face for? I just asked for a little help and I get attitude from you?” Mom asked more as a statement of anger than a question.
“I don’t have an attitude.” Gabby replied.
“Yes, I think you do. I can see it on your face. You used to be so sweet and helpful and now all I get is attitude”, was Mom’s reply.
Gabby thought to herself, “Yeah. And you met me at the door with a smile and asked about my day and dinner was ready. You start college and it is me that changed.” But she kept silent.
The look on Mom’s face hurt Gabby to the core. She hadn’t doubted how her mother felt about her before, but she did now. She really felt alone.
“Gabby, why are you still standing there. Get started on the iced tea!” Mom yelled.
“I am,” she replied. Sometimes this type of conversation made Gabby very angry and she wanted to yell back, but this afternoon, she knew she was about to cry. In fact she could feel the tear coming down her face. She quickly wiped it away and got out the pitcher. She checked the oven and saw a lasagna from the supermarket had been recently put in. String beans were on the stove awaiting the stove to be turned on.
Gabby finished the iced tea and set the table for 3 since Mom wouldn’t be joining them, and took her backpack up to her room. She didn’t have the energy for homework right now and turned on some music, and put on her earphones. It was her way of blocking out all that noise she heard in her head. Sometimes she was angry. Sometimes she told her mother off in her head. Sometimes she told herself what she was sure everyone else was thinking. It was never good.
The door slammed open and Gabby jumped. Mom was standing there with her REALLY disgusted face on.
“That is why you didn’t hear me! Take those things out of your ears. Gabby you know I have to get out of here and get to school. Why did you leave me? I don’t have time chasing around after you”, said Mom, frustrated.
“I thought you were finished with me. I set the table and made the tea. The lasagna won’t be ready for 20 minutes. I needed some me time.” Gabby replied.
Mom looked like she was going to blow, but she took a deep breath, and then another. She came over and sat next to Gabby on the bed.
“You needed to get away from me, didn’t you?” Mom asked.
Gabby just shrugged her shoulders. “Mom, I am not trying to make anything harder for you. I am trying to do the chores you ask me to do. I know college is hard work for you. But I still need my mom sometimes and today was one of those days. I just needed a hug or a smile. That is all. Growing up is hard, too.”
Mom put her arms around Gabby. “My Loving Self was really far away. I was so wrapped up in my All About Me Self that I took it out on you. I know you are trying and should have been more appreciative.”
“That took a lot of love to express yourself so clearly and calmly. You are growing up and I am missing it. I am sorry, Gabby Gootz, I will do better at being a college student and a mom. I wasn’t thinking about how you were feeling. Here I thought you were being selfish and didn’t want to help. It was me that was being selfish. I will try to understand your feelings and not jump to conclusions. I know growing up is hard. I really don’t want to make it harder for you”, said Mom.
Mom hugged Gabby tighter and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you sweetheart”, she said with a smile.
Gabby smiled back as Mom got up and headed off to school. She sat for a few moments before heading down to check on the lasagna. Did Mom really think she was making annoyed faces at her?
She didn’t like being misunderstood. She wasn’t comfortable when her feelings didn’t seem important to anyone else. Mom was right. That did take courage to tell her the truth calmly. Gabby smiled to herself and then realized she was grateful that Mom listened. Gabby also realized that sometimes it was difficult explaining herself clearly because she didn’t always understand how she felt. The one thing she did know was that she wanted to feel good about herself, and pleasing others sometimes made that difficult.
Gabby continued down to the kitchen and remembered something Gram had told her.
“When nothing seems to be going right, take an account of all you have to be grateful for. Make a list. If you can’t think of anything, write down all your complaints then write BUT after them. Go back and read each sentence once more with the “but” there and fill in the blank. Once you have vented, you will have an easier time finding something good to complete the sentence,” Gram had said.
“I guess I can give that a try,” Gabby said out loud and went to find a pen and paper.