a mother always knows

We lived in a little farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Dad was on the road as a truck driver, so it was mostly just mom, my little brother, and me. Mom’s life was not easy, especially with a constantly squabbling 13-year-old and 5-year-old.

I don’t remember the particulars, but I know my mom was having a Very. Bad. Day. We were unloading groceries, some of us more willingly than others. I’m pretty sure it was Forrest who whined about something – that’s all the kid ever did, in my opinion – when the gallon of milk exploded, slammed down by mom as the last of her patience disappeared.

Milk ran in rivulets off the counter and to the floor, drops cascaded down cabinet doors, plunking the counter before joining the white waterfall, and a light rain of milk drip-dropped from the blades of the ceiling fan.

“GET. OUT. NOW.”  Mom said in that certain mommy-meltdown voice.

Forrest high-tailed it to his room while I made my way outside to hide in the hay barn. Sitting there, I decided to forgive mom for her tantrum and bestow my help upon her.  And what better way than to empty the heavy bags of horse feed out of the trunk of the Buick? Doing this dreaded chore without being asked, I was sure to be back in her good graces!

Granted, mom always had me use the wheelbarrow, but the little shed seemed soooo far away, especially in the stifling Idaho heat. If dad were here, he would let me drive. He’d been teaching me (okay –he’d let me try once), and I’d driven the car down the long drive to the shed before.

Piece of cake! Except then it wasn’t.

You see, we had this goat who thought he was a dog.

As I was carefully backing the car out, having snuck the keys from mom’s purse, Pal jumped against my door, scaring the bejeezus out of me. Rather than stepping on the brake, I pushed the gas instead, slamming into my dad’s old truck.

Oh God, Oh God… I AM SO DEAD!

I got out and surveyed the damage. The truck was built like a tank but, sadly, the Buick wasn’t. Picking up slivers of taillight, I shoved them in the trunk, and reparked. Using the wheelbarrow, I continued on with my good deed, praying for what time I had left on earth.

Later, mom had cooled down and decided to treat us to dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Country Diner.

I was sweating bullets as we got in the car, but she never noticed the rear end, either then or at the restaurant.

“I’m home free!!!” I thought. “If she notices now, she’ll think it happened here.”

Much relaxed, we headed out for the drive home. Suddenly, a stillness filled the air.

Eyes blazing, mom looked at the mangled corner of the Buick, then back at me.

“TRACY,” she said in The. Scariest. Voice. Ever.


24 thoughts on “a mother always knows

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  1. oh man. my sister did something like this once- scratched the side of the car and didn’t tell anyone, making us (siblings) promise to do the same. fun times when my mom saw the scratch. i was like 6 so obv, i was in the clear. 😉

  2. I drive past your old house every once in awhile on my way to pick up my kids and I always think of you! 🙂 I was having a conversation with my daughter a few weeks ago about a friend and she asked “how does her mom know?” Mothers ALWAYS know.

  3. Wow. That was a doozy. My middle name is Tracy and that was the name I went by growing up. Just seeing it written like that gave me a bit of a chill in the back of my neck. Reminds me of a case my husband mediated. A father needed a jump at a local market. The mom wasn’t there so for some reason he asked his 14 yo daughter to drive the few blocks down there. Well, she got down there, panicked and not only rammed the car into the store front, she pinned a another patron in the process. Who thank goodness was okay other than some broken bones.

  4. Such a well told story! I understood the logic behind your teenage “helpful” idea, and felt the fear of getting caught – took me right back!

  5. Her mom is my sister. Enough said. Kathy knew, couse she had been there. Oh My! Love you Tracy. this is a winner.

  6. Really well told story, I knew exactly how you felt as a teenager, and exactly how your mom felt as a mom.

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