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Ride it Out


We were giving my aunt a ride home. My family was in the car with her. A close group of people smashed into the seven-seater in the middle of summer. As if the heat wasn’t enough, my two sons started fighting. We had been traveling for several days, and bedtime had been pushed to late hours. It was only a matter of time before they exploded. My aunt was talking to me about something, and they started bickering. I listened to my boys fight and fight while their sister repeatedly told them to stop. I thought ignoring them might make it go away, but it didn’t. They just kept at it, getting louder and louder. At one point, my aunt tried to intervene, but it was ineffective. There was name-calling, pushing, discussions of past events, and even talks about future events. It was a real mess.

My husband and I were incredibly embarrassed and unsure how to handle it since we were still driving. My husband acknowledged how embarrassing it was, as they continued to yell at each other. My aunt was no stranger to this. She has her own kids and has taken care of kids for many years, but something about it being my children felt particularly awful. We still had a journey ahead of us, despite it being a terrible ride.


In that moment, I desperately wanted to control my kids. I wished they were puppets that I could easily manipulate into apologizing, keeping quiet, and sitting still for the last 10 minutes in the car. But I couldn’t, and they wouldn’t, so it was pure torture.

As we reached our destination, my aunt commented about how she missed those days, but I suspect that was a lie or an exaggeration at best. Once she got out of the car, I raised my voice a bit and expressed my disappointment in both of them. They continued to argue about whose fault it was until I explained that there would be consequences. Finally, the car fell silent. I know I have great kids, and I know they can be terrible sometimes. Like most parents, I prefer not to have an audience for these moments. I want people to see them at their best because that’s what I see when I look at them. My memory as a mom tends to forget the painful, annoying, and difficult moments quite quickly. I mostly remember when they act like angels.

We saw my aunt again, and both boys apologized for their behavior in the car. She said it wasn’t a big deal, and we all moved on. Even though I didn’t like that it happened, I believe it created a bond with my aunt. She understands what it’s like, and now she sees that I’m going through it too – a mom figuring it out and loving my kids no matter what. When it comes to raising kids, we do our best, knowing that we’re all just along for the ride.

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