Earlier this week, I drove my son to school. I hit a bump in the road and my purse, overflowing with nonsense, tumbled off of the passenger seat. The nonsense spewed everywhere, including, of course, those awful unreachable crevasses on the sides of the seats. Naturally, in this purse I had a leaking water bottle, a half-eaten bag of Skittles and a half-zipped change purse filled to the brim with coins for all of those times I need a parking meter here in Suburbia.
Had you, reader, been in my car at this moment, you probably would have thought I either sliced my hand open on my keychain or a rock flew in my window and right into my eye.
Call it Spilled Purse Rage.
To say I overreacted is an understatement. And I may have even used a few choice words inappropriate for innocent(ish) ears. As I’ve said on many an occasion (to myself and to others), thank God for sound-proof tinted car windows.
After a couple of minutes and miles, I simmered down and wallowed in the mire of my overreaction guilt. Not just because of the extra set of listening ears two rows behind me, but because I failed to see that this little problem called for something a little short of blowing a gasket.
I apologized to my son with a list of shouldn’t-haves. I told him I shouldn’t have yelled and I shouldn’t have used mean words. I shouldn’t have gotten so upset over something so silly. I told him I was sorry.
And with genuine and refreshing honesty, he replied, “It’s okay, Mom. I understand. You don’t have to say sorry. I’m not mad.”
In that moment, I realized that I sometimes fail to appreciate that underneath the armor of tantrum and misfit is a compassionate and understanding human being who gets it (and me) a lot more than I credit him. He is wise and empathetic, and he has a kind heart. He gave me more grace than I was willing to give myself.
It was a good reminder to try to save the gasket blowing for the big stuff and the guilt for the wrongdoing.
It was a good reminder that benevolence is inherent in human nature. But so is gasket blowing.
And sometimes all we need is a hall pass.
Just don’t cry over spilled purses.