I’ve thought before that I must be the worst mother in the world but I think all of that was eclipsed on Thursday morning. I out did myself.
We were checking out of our motel. It was the type with the door to the room opening outside. The kids were playing on the grassy area by the van and Adam and I were making trips to and from the room. We were bantering back and forth, me telling him that I wanted him to do the manly thing and return the room keys and him telling me I should do it myself. We went in together and Adam returned the room keys with a flourish and we walked back to the van, happily heading to the lake, happily teasing each other, unaware that we were about to be really, really terrible parents.
The kids were in the van, the doors were shut and they were already reading their books. We drove a few blocks and Adam pointed out some apple orchards. He said, “Wouldn’t you like to run through those orchards, Mark?” No answer. “Mark? Where’s Mark?!”
We. Had. Left. Him. Behind.
We immediately turned around and as we assured Mark later, broke the speed limit getting back to him. Mark was sitting forlornly on a bench. I’ve had some pretty low mothering moments but I’ve never felt worse than when I opened the van door and held my arms out to him and he walked slowly towards me, tears streaming down his face. Everyone in the van wanted to hold and reassure him but like my mom used to say each time one of my siblings returned from a mission and she claimed the right to the first hug, I carried him for nine months. I got to hold him. Mark and I both cried and I promised him every way possible that I would never do that again.
While Adam and I had been in the office and Braeden and Emma had been climbing back into the van, Mark had gone up to our room to find us, that’s why he wasn’t by the van. By the time Mark got back to the van. We were gone.
It all was just a matter of maybe five minutes but it was a dreadful five minutes. I told Mark he could have whatever he wanted for breakfast. After breakfast when he wanted a fruit snack and Adam said no because he just ate, I said, “He can have a fruit snack. He can have whatever he wants. For the rest of his life.”
And guess which kid got the first turn on the wave runner?