One of the old adages I’ve always believed is the one about little pitchers having big ears. Basically, that kids hear and understand a lot more than we give them credit for. However, I didn’t realize how much they hear and how long the things we stay get stuck in their brains until last night.
I was lying down next to Big Girl. I’ve been doing that more lately. Anyway, she was drifting off to sleep when all of a sudden she said, “Do you remember when you said Daddy should take me and live somewhere else for a little while?”
My cheeks burned and my heart ached. Yes, I remembered saying that. Not my finest hour. (I used to have a lot more of those un-fine hours before the concussion.) It was in a middle of an argument with my husband. He was yelling at me, telling me I wasn’t reacting to my daughter the right way. He was saying I was screwing her up. That if I kept fighting with her I would push her away from me — and him.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so upset. I gave everything to my girls, I thought, and his statements felt like he was questioning my worth as a mother. I lashed out at him in anger. I told him if he thought I was such a crappy mother maybe he should take my daughter and go live somewhere else with her if he thought he could do a better job. Even typing those words makes me ashamed. I can’t believe I said them out loud. Even worse, I can’t believe my daughter — with her big ears — heard me say them.
When she repeated them back to me last night I instantly told her that I didn’t mean it. That I had said them in anger. That it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me and not handling my feelings well enough. I told her I wouldn’t give her up for a zillion dollars. That my heart would break if anyone even tried to take her away. And then I said I was sorry and held her close. She let me squeeze her tightly and soon fell asleep. I went to bed, lying there for a while thinking about my mistakes.
I know, although she forgives me, those words are still in her head. I can’t make them go away even though I didn’t mean them. It’s another lesson. A reminder that words hurt more than anything sometimes. One I won’t soon forget.