If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

A Sorry Example

I have respect for the law. I really do.

But tell that to the Safety Officer at my daughter’s school. I don’t think he’s buying it.

Poor guy. He – along with my daughter -- was the unfortunate recipient of a mama meltdown – the low point of a week of high stress that finally found a relief valve via my big mouth.

Molly usually takes the bus home, but one day recently I picked her up. Drop-off is fine, but pick-up is a nightmare.

You sit in an endless line until a whistle blows. Then they allow a certain number of cars to pull up to the orange cones. The kids have about two minutes to find their parents’ cars before the whistle blows again and the next group of cars moves forward.

This is NO problem, of course, because middle school girls never get distracted. They are laser-focused on finding their mommy’s car. Not.

If your child doesn’t see you, you make a loop and go through the whole fun-filled process again.

Well, the first time I went through the line, I spotted Molly, but she was completely oblivious.

So ... I made my way into the very long line for the second time. This time she SAW me, but I was in the far lane and they wouldn’t let her cross over to me because other cars were still moving.

I sat there motioning like a lunatic (unaware that she was not allowed to go). Then the whistle blew and I was holding up progress. Which prompted the safety patrol people to go whistle-happy. And they began yelling at the crazy lady who’s just trying to retrieve her firstborn.

Did I mention that it was also raining?

As I passed through the line the third time, I went rogue. I pulled into the parking lot and motioned for her to come over.

She sprinted across the pickup line and jumped into the car. She got quite a welcome.

Me: Why weren’t you looking for me?! Do you know how many times I’ve been through this line?! But noooooo, you're just chatting with you friends, not even paying attention ....

I was still in mid-rant, when Mr. Security Officer knocked on my window.

Officer: Ma’am, what you just did is UN-ACCEPTABLE. The line is there to keep the kids safe.

Me (in a huff): Yeah, well, I tried your line and it didn’t work so well.

Officer: Well, that’s the way it works around here.

I said something else equally snippy and rolled up the window.

Molly: Wow. You were rude. I’ll take the bus next time.

On the way home, I felt that awful feeling of regret. I apologized to Molly, but I knew I needed to tell the Officer I was sorry, too. I prayed for an opportunity.

A few mornings later, I saw him in the drop-off line and rolled down the window. He actually mock-shielded his face when he saw me. I must have made quite an impression.

Me: I acted like a jerk the other day. I’m really sorry.

Officer (smiling): Well, I’ve been known to act like a jerk now and then, too. I won’t hold it against you.

Molly: Awww… that was nice of you to apologize to him. You did the right thing, Mom.

As a parent, I try to set a good example. But I don’t always get it right. Our kids don’t either. But I can always make it right. And I can show my kids how to, too.

I truly think they often learn more during our "sorry" moments than our superior ones.

Still, I think it's safer for all parties if Molly sticks to the bus.


  1. Good for you! And the pick-up process sounds like a nightmare! I honestly don't know how bad ours is yet. The few times I had to pick my son up last year, I went 10 minutes early and snuck him out of class. That was kindergarten though---probably not as acceptable now.

  2. Our pick up process is easier than that, thankfully! Great job apologizing and leading your daughter by example!!! :O)

  3. Ahhh, that is so true. Even, we (the adults) lose our cool and can't help ourselves. I always try to make it a point to apologize to my children if I've snapped at them or yelled b/c I was frustrated. Not easy to admit when you're wrong...but you are so right...they learn so much!

    Great example Melinda and good for you for showing your daughter how to make things right. I just love your posts!

  4. What an example of humility and accountability for your actions! I just wrote a blog about needing humility and sacrifice (of pride?) to be a parent and you displayed that! I enjoy your honesty and candor. And boy can I relate to the losing it part. I'm still looking for a good recipe for humble pie though!?

  5. You definitely set a good example by apologizing.

    Not to defeat the point of that, but that pick-up process is crazy! Ours is different- but I guess b/c it's elementary school still.

  6. What a nightmare! It is a good experience for the kids to see us own our mistakes, but yikes - you'd think they could come up with a better way to get the kids to the cars!

  7. Oh the pick up line! I pick up the kiddos from school since my college schedule lets me out before 1:00 pm everyday.

    I decided that the middle school's process wasn't working for me so I made a deal with the girls. I told them they either walked to the elementary school where I pick up my baby brother or they wait 20 minutes outside until I go get them because there is no way I am going to deal with the pick up line.

    They decided on the 20 minutes since it gave them a chance to catch up with their friends.

    Reading this, I think I caused problems for the other parents. :P

    It was great of you to apologize to meany mr. officer! Something like that would have made me proud of my momma (as a fellow teen of your daughter!)

    Here's to hoping that pick up line gets better in case Molly decides not to ride the bus again. :)

  8. Wow, that sounds like a complicated pickup process. But really, it sounds like even though you lost your cool, you handled the clean-up process about as well as you could of. It was definitely the right thing to do and was good for your daughter to see. As bad as it is to admit, I'm not sure I would have handled the whole situation well at all.

  9. You are so right, Melinda. We can always make it right and our kids DO learn more from those "sorry" moments. My eldest son told me so!

    Loved this.

  10. I loved this post!! You SO took me back to middle school! I constantly had an attitude! You also reminded me of my "top 10 ways to pass the time in the carpool lane": http://kelleysbreakroom.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html. Maybe your next trip will be more pleasant if you do. :). Also, I liked your other post about the Twitter feed. Will do!

  11. Melinda, that sounds horrible to have to go through 3 times! But I guess I understand the reason to keep moving. I've sat in the back of the line forever when my kids were little.

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  13. That sounds like a nightmare!! It's good that you were able to redeem yourself though-and teach a lesson in the process. Thankfully our pickup line is a bit more organized and easier to do. I would be pulling my hair out!

  14. That pick up lane sounds like a such a pain in the rump! Way to apologize in front of your daughter, Mama! I agree with you that our children prob learn better by example. (MAN!! That means I need to get my act together!) ;)

  15. Saying sorry is the hardest thing, but she really will remember this, good for you

  16. Great life lesson moment! Those drive thru lanes are a nightmare! Ours is exactly like that except the officers use a bullhorn and blast, "Johnny your Mom is @ cone 2!!" My son walks home now! ;)


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