Motherhood “Fail Moment”

(aka “Opportunity For Growth”)


Ugh.  I hate when this happens.  Once again, my first reaction to my child looking to me for affirmation was that of criticism rather than exhortation.  My sweet 11-year old was doing a small performance piece at school that she was super nervous about and when it was her turn to go up and do her memorized part all I could think about was how she had forgotten the (extra credit) book prop she and I had spent a bit of time making.  The whole time she was up there, I found myself being unable to fully pay attention to her because I was so distracted by the thought that she hadn’t remembered her prop and, thus, would lose out on an extra 10 points for her presentation.  My cheeks were burning red and everything.  I kept hoping to telepathically communicate to her that she should at least mention the fact that she had accidentally left her prop under her seat (10 feet away)… or go meander to the chair and grab it and make it look like it was all part of her dramatic plan… but she didn’t.  Apparently, I don’t have the ability to read minds or communicate with others through my mind.  Darn it.

So when she finished and was walking back to her seat and made eye contact with me, looking for encouragement, what did I do?  I mimed a book opening and closing and mouthed “what about the book?”  Her countenance fell and she she mouthed “I forgot it!” with an apologetic look on her face.

I immediately felt horrible.  For so many reasons.  First of all, she actually did incredible up there.  She spoke so clearly and with such humble confidence, it was, as a matter of fact, amazing.  This girl used to be sooooo painfully shy as a preschooler and kindergartener that I genuinely used to wonder if she had some kind of social oddity about her.  So to see how she has blossomed into this confident, bubbly, friendly and intelligent young lady is really quite striking.  The truth is, I am so very proud of her.

ellie then                ellie

Another reason I felt horrible for miming the forgotten prop is that I really don’t blame her for forgetting it.  This presentation thing was a super chaotic, interactive learning experience for her class wherein each kid had to be ready at a moment’s notice to barrel up to the podium and recite their little piece to the room.  No one knew when he or she would be called up there.  It was very fast-paced and somewhat confusing at times, especially for the students, who sometimes had to even do a quick wardrobe change (like put on a coat or grab a prop, etc).

ellie nowAnother reason I felt bad for being critical of the forgotten prop was that it honestly didn’t make a difference.  No one except me knew that she had forgotten anything.  All anyone knew was that there was a lovely young lady up there, speaking clearly and knowledgeably about the historical person she learned about.  And let me tell you, the fact that she was understandable was a pretty big deal— so many of the kids, in their nervousness, spoke so quietly and mumbly that they literally sounded less intelligible than Charlie Brown’s teacher.  So my daughter’s clarity of speech was quite a refreshing change for us audience members who were hoping to actually learn something from this presentation.

The good news is that I had already figured out my mistake before the show was even over and so I was ready to try to make it right.  And the other great news is that my precious daughter is a very forgiving soul, always hoping for the best in other people.  So afterwards, when I had a chance to make contact with her, I went up to her, gave her a big hug, and just gushed all over her, telling her how amazing she did and how I was so proud of how clearly and confidently she spoke.  She apologized for forgetting her prop and I quickly brushed it aside and said, with all sincerity, “Oh, it’s okay, honey.  It’s not a big deal.”  Because really: it isn’t.  What was a big deal was that my brave young lady had been super nervous about something, faced that fear with courage and confidence, and did her very best.  And her best was incredible.

What more could a mother want for her daughter?




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What about you?

Have you ever felt bad about not having “the best” reaction to one of your children’s faux pas? Do you ever find yourself getting competitive on behalf of your child when, if you really stop to think about it, what you’re getting worked up about has no real significance in the grand scheme of things?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.