mistakes & motherhood

November 25, 2013 § 6 Comments

It began as an uncomfortable uncertainty, a nagging sensation that something unnamed was amiss. Looking over my daughter’s assignment notebook this evening I sifted through worries, wondering if her teacher shared my concerns. Like light flooding dark corners, I immediately suspected what I previously could not recall; I had missed my daughter’s parent-teacher conference.

Panicked I searched my phone for reassurance, grateful when nothing appeared on the day’s agenda. Hurriedly, desperate to prove my instincts wrong, I rounded the corner toward my paper calendar and noted my scrawling script firmly affirming my error and mocking my mistake. I had forgotten something previously unforgettable.

I spit my error into words like a bitter confession, dripping self-depreciating humor. My husband registered disbelief, but my daughter’s disappointment framed my failure in a painful silhouette of silence; holding me tightly to discomfort. In that moment I wanted to build a wall of excuses, stacked neatly with logic to explain away my mistake.

It would have been easy to conjure an acceptable excuse that I might find a convenient thread of dismissal from accountability. Instead I considered my children’s colorful errors in judgment and my lofty expectation of genuine remorse and honest admissions of error. I drafted an uncluttered apology to my daughter’s teacher and then settled into a separate apology to my daughter.

Here, where my children know I hold memories safe, I am pushing aside the urge to label myself unkindly for sympathy or to wallow self-righteously for reassurance. I am determined to wear my mistake among my words; holding this day alongside more accomplished moments of motherhood to better remember the sense of humility that accompanies recognition of fallibility. Modeling honesty and remorse as I endeavor to teach compassion and forgiveness rather than hiding my errors behind excuses.

To my daughter, Tonight I wanted to circle the minute hand back to a moment I might have done better; to claim the fragment of an hour designated to align those responsible for your education in attendance and attention. In loosing sight of this commitment I suggested you and your teacher were forgettable, your time and importance negotiable. You are more important than my error, your education greater than this mistake. I’m sorry. Love, Mom

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§ 6 Responses to mistakes & motherhood

  • jmlindy422j says:

    It so painful when we forget something we’ve committed to for our children. I guess all we can hope is that our children learn to accept their own fallibility as we accept ours. What a beautiful apology.

    • Marie says:

      Thank you. My first emotions were shame and embarrassment, that somehow I would be judged or labeled by my failure. Not making excuses and standing present in my mistake (I hope) communicated greater respect to my daughter and her teachers.

  • I dread that combination of adrenaline, guilt and remorse. With busy lives it’s a given, though.
    But then there’s grace :-) Nicely done.

    • Marie says:

      My daughter’s disappointment was worse than my own embarrassment; chin tucked into her chest I realized she felt unimportant and made it foremost in my mind to uncurl her doubts into my straightforward apology.

  • bronxboy55 says:

    You want to be perfect, which is an impossible goal, especially given the overwhelming difficulty and complexity of parenthood. But you keep trying and aiming for that perfection, and that’s what makes you a great mother. Your kids will see it one day. And I bet it’s happened to the teacher before — without the subsequent apology.

    • Marie says:

      I want to be a good mother and an honest storyteller. If I can gather my children’s images in fragmented reflections among a spectrum of colorful experiences, then I need to embrace my errors as prisms that cast light and depth also.

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