Hi. My name is Vanessa, and last week I totally screwed up being a mom. Is there anything worse?
As most of you know I’m the mom to Julia, my now 10 year old daughter, but I am also the mom to Will, my 12 year old son. Well, last weekend Will had a weekend birthday party to attend, and I forgot. Yeah.
I received the e-vite to the party about a month prior. When I got it, I immediately replied yes and put the event in my calendar on my iPhone. And dang if I didn’t feel good about myself when I did (good job, mom!). What I didn’t do when I entered the event was set an alarm to notify me when said birthday party was about to start (the smart designers of the iPhone calendar clearly had me in mind when they designed this feature). Huge mistake. Because after I entered it in my calendar, I immediately dismissed what time the party actually started, and replaced it with a made-up time I created myself. In my head.
I had decided the party started sometime in the afternoon. Seemed logical. Saturday afternoon, maybe after lunch. Yeah, that’s probably when it is. Well, I was wrong. The party started at 11 a.m.
At about 12:30 that afternoon, I was getting ready to drive my son to the party, when I FINALLY looked at the invite to see WHERE I was taking him (yeah, had missed that too), and that’s when I realized I had completely messed it up. Right there, in big bold print, was the time of the party. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And this was my first thought: #FAIL.
In a split second, I had gone from awesome mom about to drive my son to a totally fun, paint-ball birthday party, to loser mom who had let my son down. I felt terrible. And it was about to get worse. I had to now tell Will. “You know that fun birthday party you thought you were going to today? Yeah. Well, you’re not going. You just missed it.”
And you know what happened? He said this, “That’s ok Mom. We all make mistakes. Don’t worry about it. No big deal.” And then I started to cry. For real. Because even though I could tell he was completely disappointed in my mothering skills (who could blame him, one of his best friends is having a party, and he’s not there?), he did the right thing, without me even asking. He forgave me.
Maya Angelou said, months before her passing, if she could have done anything differently in her life, she would have forgiven more. Forgiving yourself and others, she said, frees you to make room for new, better, amazing opportunities to come into your life. And she’s right. When Will did what he did (and yes, I had to forgive myself too!), when he forgave me for being a total screw up mom, he not only made room for himself to still have a wonderful day, but he also gave me that gift as well. You see, we could have spent the remainder of the day being upset and angry with each other (me upset, him angry), but instead, with the gift of forgiveness, we were both able to make the choice to spend the day doing something fun together (yes, I did end up taking him to the movies that afternoon – and yes, I told him he could get whatever candy he wanted). Forgiveness gave us the room in our hearts to be able to do just that; the space wasn’t being occupied by anger and disappointment.
I’ve always thought of life as one giant classroom, teaching us life lessons. On this particular day, the day when I totally messed up mothering, my lesson was loud and clear. The only two things that really matter in this world are love and forgiveness. That, and calendar alarms.