Pride goes before a fall, and we certainly fell. In a decade of parenting, this has never happened. I’ve imagined it and wondered the consequences and repercussions but we’ve never experienced it until now. In fact, I’d chalk it up to one of the most embarrassing moments in a long time. How could a simple five-minute errand go wrong?
Let me back up. The four boys and I ran into the nearest grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and bread but the beautiful display of flowers just inside the doors distracted us. Blue hydrangeas or pink tulips? The twins reached out from each side of the double-seated race car buggy, determined to make their choices known. I chatted with a few friends while the big boys loaded up the buggy.
Had I not been distracted, I might’ve seen the problem right away. Satisfaction swinging from my hips, I sashayed away from the display in my running shorts and flip flops, proud of my little entourage behind me. Big brother pushed the buggy full of twins and flowers taller than his head between the produce aisles as we snagged a bag of apples for lunch.
Grabbing a few extras, we finally made our way toward the milk cooler. A crash sounded close behind me and I spun around to see what happened. As if in slow motion, I saw bottles of wine flying through the air. Noooooooo, I thought, as my mind took in the wrecked cart in the midst of the mother’s day display. Instantly, a burgundy stain spilled across the floor, leaving a puddle of public shame and decapitated tulips.
The twins wide eyes raised and met mine. My other son broke the silence and stated the obvious, “Hey, the bottles broke.” My oldest son’s shoulders slumped as he stared at the floor, slowly pulling his shirt up over his eyes, as if hoping if he couldn’t see anyone, then they couldn’t see him either.
An employee jogged over, asking me to move the cart so he could clean up the mess. I tried, but every time I pulled the cart away, it pulled the display table with it. A shelf was lodged firmly between the two buggy baskets. By now, the entire aisle filled with fellow last-minute Mother’s Day shoppers needing to squeeze past us.
Between the two of us, we dislodged the shelf and the employee begged, “Please, go ahead. I’ll clean this up.”
Amidst the stares from the nearest twenty or so shoppers, we slipped into the closest aisle void of wine bottles and other breakables. I silently vowed never to return to this shopping center where they’d surely wait until we left before plastering WANTED pictures of us throughout the store, warning shoppers and employees alike that we were walking disasters.
I turned my back to the crowd and tugged my son’s shirt down, gazing into his wet eyes. The tears let loose and with a mumbled, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t see over the flowers,” he threw his arms around my middle and buried his face. I almost cried myself. The mortification I felt disappeared the instant I saw his embarrassment.
After returning his hug, I promised everything would be okay. I joked that it could’ve been worse–it could’ve been the lobster tank.
The mini disaster could’ve been far worse, but it served as a reminder that –
- Our children will embarrass or disappoint us in life.
- Sometimes, if we are paying attention, we can prevent near disasters.
- Nothing our children do could ever stop us from loving them.
From Reality to Reflection
The future is filled with moments our family will mortify us, disappoint us, and challenge us, but the thing is–we’re in this parenting thing together. We’re not going to give up on our kids because of accidents or misplaced manners or ill-chosen choices. We’re not going to stop loving them because they did something wrong.
Because we’ve all done something wrong, right? So many times we’ve made our own bad choices and we’ve felt that shame, humility, disappointment, and we’ve determined to do better next time.
That’s what our kids need from us. Love, acceptance, and the challenge to do better next time. Love them no matter what. Accept them for who they are. Challenge them to choose higher next time.
The best part of all? This is exactly how God loves us when we mess up.
He’s gracious and giving, the God of another chance, and when we love him and honor him with our life, we model his love to our own little ones.
So if you or your kids mess up this week, just remember—it could be worse. Give yourself grace.
Lamentations 3:21-23 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
I hope you’re back next week to find out what happens after we mess up and the consequences and repercussions that follow (and the cost of those broken wine bottles…).