Despite My Mistakes

Parenting is difficult. Some would say, it is the hardest job a person could ever have. For me, it is something that I fail at on a daily basis.

“Mom, I have to be at the field in 10 minutes. Did you wash my uniform?” my son asks.

“Here,” I throw him a red clay stained heap, “I sprayed some Febreeze on it. No one will ever know.” Hopefully, the Pig Pen nickname will run its course sooner rather than later.

“Mom, you forgot to buy the black tap shoes for tonight’s recital. I can’t wear my tan  ones,” my daughter proclaims. Realizing I didn’t have time to rectify the situation, I grab the Sharpie and start coloring. In my defense, the audience couldn’t tell the difference—at least that is what I told her.

And every now and then I slip up and say the “s-word” which my kids gladly call me out on. “Ooh! You said shut-up!”

Most days I get the whole parenting thing wrong. I talk when I should listen. I get angry when I should remain calm. I worry when I should pray. But every now and then a rare moment presents itself and I think—I nailed it! I am the best mother in the entire world. These kids are so lucky to have me. For me, these moments are executing a birthday party well (including both a designer cake and beloved party favors reflecting the “oh so cute” theme), having a successful play-date, being the most fun mom on the dreaded daylong field trip to the Capitol, etc. But when you are really lucky, a moment—letting you know you aren’t a complete parenting failure—happens unexpectedly.

It was last Tuesday and I was helping set up the Fair for the school fundraiser. I arrived almost an hour later than the time slot I had signed up for, but since the other mothers were oblivious as to who I was—I didn’t worry. I was immediately assigned to a task. I began counting tickets and putting them in stacks of 100. As I busied around, I overheard a group of mothers talk. They were sizing up kids in the 4th grade class one after the other.

“You know Sue’s mother left her dad, so Jim isn’t her biological father…Chris Blackburn didn’t pass the gifted test, again…The Wright twins have struggled so badly this year, they are going to be homeschooled.” All the women gasped in shock.

“What about that new boy that came to the school this year?” one mom asked. They were talking about my son. I sat perfectly still, holding my breath in anticipation.

“Thomas says he’s not very social,” said the first mom.

“He was on my son’s baseball team, but never really fit in with the other boys,” said mom #2.

“Well, I think he is a sweetheart. He actually stopped to help Rebecca carry her book bag one morning after she broke her leg and was still trying to navigate the crutches. It made her day.”

The third mom’s comments immediately changed the tone of the group. They followed her lead, agreed with her (more or less) and moved on to another child. I sat overcome with emotion and grateful for that mother’s guts to stand up to her friends. Mostly, I was proud of my little boy who had somehow—despite my mistakes—learned compassion. He had done the right thing even though no one was looking. I thought to myself, He nailed it! He is the best son in the entire world! I am so lucky to have him!


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