I’ve been watching too much Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I know this because dark hallways freak me out, even in my own house that I have lived in for seven years. I scare quite easily lately, and have been known to jump at the slightest unexpected touch. It occurred to me that maybe I needed to put my marathon on hold the other day, when my daughter screamed. Neither of my daughters are quiet, and I am used to a variety of shrieks and outcries of rage. I can usually tell the difference. This scream was one of pure terror—or so it sounded to me.
My reaction? Well, first I try calling up to her: “Alison, are you OK?”
Now, normally she will respond to my inquiry, usually with a “I’m OK, Ma,” or an explanation of what her sister has done to make her mad. Not so this time. I waited a few seconds and heard another scream. That did it. Without hesitation, I grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and raced upstairs to slay her demons, no matter what form they may take.
What I found when I entered, fierce and ready to do battle, was a little girl who was angry she couldn’t get her shoes off. Go figure. She asked for my help and didn’t seem to think it odd at all that her mother was carrying a large knife. We went back downstairs together and I put it back, feeling a bit sheepish.
What would I have done with that thing, anyway? You know how it is: when we think our little ones are being attacked our mama bear instincts emerge from hibernation, and heaven help anyone on the receiving end. The truth is though that no matter how much I’d like to be her hero I get frequent reminders that I don’t have a cape, and if I did, it would just be a Halloween costume. I don’t have magical powers, and I can’t rescue her.
This week my mother-in-law was in a car accident, while on the way to bring my kiddos home to me. My oldest, Alison, was quite shaken up by the ordeal, though neither was seriously hurt. In fact, neither of them had more than a bruise and a few cuts. We are so, so lucky. I am so grateful for their safety, words can not even express my relief.
Who can I attack, who do I have a right to be angry with? I can’t argue with the hunk of metal that was once my in-laws car. I don’t have the heart to fuss at my mother-in-law, who had to have surgery on her broken wrist, and who I know was driving safely, anyway. I am certainly not angry with the children. Accidents happen, but what makes it worse is not having an outlet to pour our anger and frustration out on. I am mad at myself. I am mad for sending them overnight in the first place, for putting my need for alone time above their need to be at home, where it’s safe. Where I can watch them every waking moment. I am mad that I am not Super Mom, and that no matter how much I want to, I can’t always protect the ones I love most.