When it comes to giving advice, or counsel, especially to moms, I tend to sit pretty solidly in the grace camp. Not always, but mostly. Mostly a lot of the time.
I would have been the first to say breast feeding your child is so important but, if it get's too hard, or painful, or frustrating, there are great formulas out there and you're not a terrible mom for hanging up your nursing bra.
Unfortunately, I don't always extend myself the same latitude. I nursed Graham for four months with off and on infections and terrible pain because I felt like a failure for giving it up.
1. I'm sorry if you're eating while reading this.
2. I don't think other mom's are failures - just me. I wish there was a chocolate bar for that but I've yet to find one.
Anyway, over the years I've seen and talked with many a mom who feel like failures in the role they're in. They've lost their child's most beloved trinket. They've said things they would give anything to take back. They've forgotten important moments in their kid's lives and I feel like I'm usually pretty quick to tell them to give themselves a break - people make mistakes - and we mom's can't be perfect.
Yesterday afternoon, I'm piddling around, doing kind of a whole lot of nothing at the house. I cleaned it a little, read a little, talked on the phone to some friends, and took a much needed bath. I wasn't in meetings, appointments, or even running important errands.
When I pulled up to school to pick up carpool, I saw several friends walking out with their first graders and their projects - the Sea Turtle project we'd been working on and that Sadie was scheduled to present today, Thursday afternoon.
Or Wednesday afternoon.
I totally missed it. I missed my baby girl's first-ever presentation where she had to be nervous all alone and stand up in front of her class without her mom even in the audience. She wasn't even really ready because we hadn't practiced like we always do the night before presentations.
Insert big, ugly cry where I had to use my friend's son's sweater as a tissue.
Sorry Carrie. Sorry Holt. And sorry Ralph Lauren.
I pulled up and Sadie had her little face buried in her brother's chest and he was stroking her hair. As she ran to my car and immediately climbed into my lap, I thought, "What kind of mother DOES this? How could I miss this baby's first presentation? That's my JOB - to be there - sitting in her little desk with my knees in my chin so that, when she gets nervous, she can look at my face and be reassured and OK and know I'm cheering for her! What the heck? I suck."
The self-flagellation continued all afternoon even though she was over it in about five minutes. When we got home, she grabbed my hand and said, "Mom, let's go upstairs and fnuggle and talk about our feelings."
Although I didn't share all my feelings with her six-year-old self, I told her over and over again I was so sorry I missed it and she was quick to forgive.
My friends and my husband said what I would say to anyone else. Mistakes happen. We're not perfect. Kids are resilient. Give yourself a break. But, I think it's so interesting, even when I believe them for others, I don't always apply those principles to myself.
I'm learning another contradiction of my life and it's no es bueno. Or bueno. Depending on how you look at it. I know I'm not perfect - nowhere close - but letting others down makes me feel horrible.
This afternoon, Sadie gets a do-over and she'll give her presentation again with us there. It's the first thing she said to me this morning, as did Graham - seven times. Bless his heart.
It's a good lesson for me to learn to believe truths not only for others, but also for myself. And learn from the quick and sincere forgiveness of a six year-old child.