“Never Alone,” Friend, Feb. 1999, 12
I yanked the middle drawer right out of my dresser and rifled through it, hurling all the rejected clothing to the floor. It was “Bulldogs Wear Blue” day at school, I was late, and I still couldn’t find my Bulldogs sweatshirt. Finally recognizing a blue sleeve poking up out of the bottom drawer, I grabbed the wadded sweatshirt. Giving it a good stretch to try to pull out the wrinkles, I threw it over my head and rushed to the front door.
“‘Bye, Mom,” I said, smearing a kiss on her cheek and racing down the driveway toward the bus stop. From the sidewalk, I could see the last child boarding the bus.
“Here comes Michelle,” someone called to the driver. Then everyone on the bus turned to watch as I ran to it. Red-faced from running and from embarrassment, I slunk into the first available seat without ever looking up.
At school, I was halfway through the Pledge of Allegiance when I glanced at the chalkboard and realized that I had forgotten my homework. Last night I had struggled through a math story problem four times before I figured it out, and now I had left it home, where it would do me no good at all! When a day starts like this, it’s guaranteed to be rough. By the time the bell rang at three o’clock, I was miserable.
I trudged home from the bus stop, rehearsing my troubles of the day. Maybe Mom made some of her delicious peanut-butter cookies, I thought. The chewy ones with the crisscross marks on the top. Warm. With milk. I couldn’t wait!
My happy thoughts quickly disappeared when I walked into the kitchen. My little brother—not my mother—had been busy in the kitchen! There was a white powder trail from the flour bin to the middle of the floor, where he sat with a big mixing bowl full of slimy goo. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m making bread just like Mom,” he answered, throwing a handful onto the floor and “kneading” it into the linoleum.
On another day, I might have thought it was funny. But not today—I was angry! I wanted to be greeted by warm cookies, not a little brother making a big mess!
Just then Mom walked in and saw the disaster. “What’s going on?” she asked. “Michelle, why are you just watching him make such a mess?” Her voice rose a notch. “And your room is a disaster! Go to your room and don’t come out until it’s clean.”
I slammed the door to my room and flopped onto the bed. It isn’t fair! I didn’t make a mess in the kitchen. Why am I in trouble? I’m the one having a bad day. Nobody cares. I sat up and wiped the angry tears from my eyes. I could hear the twins crying. My slammed door must have woken them from their naps.
I looked around my room. It really was a disaster! There was a drawer on the floor, and I had scattered clothes everywhere that morning while looking for my Bulldogs sweatshirt. And during the day, my would-be-baker brother must have invaded my toys, because they were scattered around the room, too. It was a mess. And it wasn’t fair! That brother of mine was a problem. Why can’t he stay out of my stuff? I wondered. I decided to rearrange my room so that he couldn’t reach my toys anymore.
I pulled everything off all the shelves and out of my desk drawers—toys, papers, crayons, everything! Everything of any interest to a little brother was going to be moved out of reach. As I rummaged through my closet, looking for toys that would need to be protected, I found my Tyrannosaurus Terror Drawing Kit.
Meanwhile, Mom had gone to the twins’ room to settle them down again. Then she had returned to the kitchen and found my brother trying to clean up his mess. Dragging a wet towel in the dough, he had smeared paste from the middle of the room to the sink and all around!
After Mom finally got the kitchen under control, she came to my room, where she found me sitting on an even bigger pile of stuff, playing with my dinosaur drawing kit. I knew right away that I was in big trouble. Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to say something (or maybe yell something). Instead, she just turned around and left crying, looking totally defeated.
I felt awful. Everything had gone wrong—my sweatshirt, the bus, my homework, my little brother—and Mom was upset with me. I felt all alone. Not knowing what else to do, I knelt and prayed. “Heavenly Father, please help me. Help me so everything is OK. Help my mom be happy. Help her to love me even though I have a messy room. Please, Heavenly Father, please help me.” Still kneeling beside my bed, I buried my face in my pillow and sobbed.
Shortly, I heard Mom in the hall. I jerked up and grabbed a shirt to act like I was putting it away. I didn’t want to get in trouble again for not working.
When Mom came into my room, her eyes were red and swollen worse than mine. She quietly asked if I had been praying. I hesitated because I knew I was supposed to be cleaning, but I nodded yes.
Mom cleared a spot beside me, sat down, and put her arms around me. “I love you,” she said. “I’m sorry I was upset with you. I’m sorry you’re not having a very good day. I’ve had a hard day myself, and I was praying for help when the Spirit whispered that you were praying for me, too.”
“Really?” I asked. “Heavenly Father heard my prayer, and the Holy Ghost told you?”
“That’s right,” Mom said, smiling.
I started to cry again, but this time it was because I knew that somebody cared. Heavenly Father had watched my awful day, and He understood that I needed love more than I needed a clean room. And even though I didn’t get warm peanut-butter cookies, I felt a real warmth inside, a comforting knowledge that I am never alone.