July 16, 2012

A Hard Lesson


Experience: that most brutal of teachers. 
But you learn, 
my God do you learn.

-C. S. Lewis


I can say without hesitation that this moment was one of my worst failures as a mother so far. I don't say it lightly or with a laugh, but with honesty so painful my heart still hurts from the memory, and probably always will.

It had been a good, albeit hot, 103 degree day. We were with Sky's family at their yearly reunion in a park. Afterwards, we spent time grabbing some pizza and sitting on the wide front porch in their small town, watching all the kids play. But by the time we left, my head was throbbing fiercely, and I asked if we could stop somewhere for sinus medicine. After a few tries with no luck, we finally found a truck stop and veered off towards it.

A small SUV sat to our right in the parking lot. It inched forward, then stopped. It inched forward again, then stopped again. I kept my eye on the driver out of worry. Just as Sky was driving towards the store, it sped up, and I yelled at him to stop as it nearly hit us. And just like that, I was livid. I still can't explain how or why I got so upset or quickly, but it was instantaneous.

And then I did something I would like to think is out of character because I've never done it, but it must be somewhere deep in my character if I did it then. It's something I ashamed of and wish I could take back. I said something, tasteless and crass, behind the false safety of the passenger side window. I made a gesture. And I shook my head at the man driving the other vehicle as we pulled into a parking spot.

Only, he followed us there. Sky said, "He's coming over." I watched the car pull into the spot close to us and stop. Suddenly, the anger I had just seconds before melted into pure fear. My heart raced with the kind of sickening adrenaline that can't be controlled.

He yelled at Sky- something about needing to "keep his girl in line" or telling Sky to tell me to shut up. Sky argued back for a moment, but kept his cool much more than I expected. I honestly couldn't tell you what either of them said after that. I just sat there, frozen, staring at the man from behind my sunglasses.

And I thought about what could happen at any second. Did he have a gun? A knife? There were other adults in his car. Were they going to get involved? Here I sat, doors unlocked, my husband standing behind our tiny car, and a one year old little girl in the back seat. Potty training books were scattered across the backseat. A jar of homemade pickles my mother-in-law had just given us on the floorboard. Sky's energy drink sat crookedly in the cup holder. Everything seemed so insignificant and so surreal except the strong reality of the two people I love. It was the kind of fear that stopped any kind of prayers from even being whispered. All I could think was that I just wanted him to just leave us. Just leave, please leave. The thought of something happening to Sky or to Millie stopped my breath until he finally did drive away.

Once we were sure he was gone, Sky went into the store for my medicine, and I turned around to look at Millie. The tears began pouring down my face. She jabbered and played, having no idea of what had just occurred. I cried on and off the last hour of our trip as I imagined all the possibilities of having been so foolish.

I write this mainly as a confessional. As I told my mom and Sky, I try so hard to protect Millie's heart- to not only guard her physical safety, but to keep her around good influences, especially while she's so young and impressionable, soaking everything up eagerly like a sponge. It truly broke my heart to think that I, of all people on this earth, could do something so careless for her to see.

My mom told me she's had moments like that as all mothers have, though I couldn't remember a single one. And I guess that's my hope for Millie- that she won't remember this, but when I fail again in other ways, as I know I will, that she will give me the kind of undeserved grace God gives to all of us.

One of the hardest lessons I've learned on this motherhood journey is that I will stumble and she will see it. But I've also discovered my biggest hope is that she can learn from my mistakes and make less of her own.                

18 kind comments from you:

Aimee @ byAimee.com said...

you had me teary girl -- i am so sorry for what you experienced and you have just reminded me that when i lose my temper, speak words that i know i should not use.. that i am called to love, protect and train up my kids. thank you for sharing -- off to write a confessional.. in my journal!

Mrs. H said...

As a new mom, this definitely hits me hard. I was disagreeing with Zach about something absolutely silly and I was losing my temper. And my husband was holding our darling little guy in his arms...that reflection in their young little eyes just kills me when it's something you don't even want to see.

But as Mr. Lewis said, we do learn...and the love we have for our children can only become closer to being perfect :)

Reccewife said...

great post. Honestly I would like to think its the fact my kids are a bit older, but I can't even remember all the times I've screwed up around them anymore. I have had to trust in His grace they learn only from the things I do right, though seeing my impatience and bad habits in them is one of the hardest parts of parenting.

Kaylee said...

It's hard being a mama and being human, and having moments like this. Sometimes, I think God gave me babies so I could see my flaws even better - it's like having a little mirror all the time, knowing they are soaking in whatever I might do or say - and I have to account for my actions/words around them, all the time, even when I don't realize it. What a great responsibility we have as parents - and yet, what grace we have when we stumble. For kids to see us make mistakes and fail, and then see how we recover, is a beautiful thing - that getting back up is just as important as a lesson. I'm sorry this happened, but know you are not alone!

Holly said...

My husband and I don't have kids yet, plus we both have our concealed weapons licenses and are both carrying. If some guy followed us and yelled at us (especially if he was in the wrong), my husband definitely would take to it well at all. However, I think with the simple fact of having a precious little life there, it changes the whole dynamic. You are only human and you will react that way sometimes, but I guess you do have to be conscious of your kids around. At this point, I wouldn't have ever thought of thanks. Thanks for sharing!

Erinn said...

You know, I take stuff like flipping off rude drivers for granted. My big thing is speeding away from jerk drivers which in and of itself is kind of a jerk move. It's the basic fight or flight instict but instead of flying, I'm driving. You had a moment of fight which is apart of probably the most basic behavioral behavior pattern we have. The fact you have never done it before tells me that it wasn't something you just did because of the circumstances or because it's somehow part of you're character. I'm sure you've been hungry and hot before. It was because some jerk threatned you and your family with bodily harm. I don't know if you had ever been in a circumstance like that before but maybe it's why you reacted in a such a unique way. I don't think you should be ashamed especially if you learned something from it about how you'll react when something like that comes up again. And it will come up again as sure as some other driver will act like a jerk. I know I will have to learn lessons like that when I become a parent...I can be overly reactionary at times when it comes to people being rude to me. I think you're awesome and the lesson you learned isn't just for you. Thank you for sharing.

Erinn said...

and when I said bheavioral behavior, I just meant behavior :P

Michelle said...

Oh my goodness, that would be SO scary. I would have been sobbing and terrified. You're an amazing mother. Even the best mothers make mistakes. I'm glad you are all safe!

Mel said...

Honey, you are being too hard on yourself. You made a mistake. Everyone is safe; Millie is okay, and she will not remember this. She will remember those times you scared away the monsters, both real and the ones under the bed. She will remember the times you made her feel safe, not the one time you made a mistake.

Also look at it this way: while your reaction was probably unnecessary and not how you want to react in those situations, it says something good about your character too. It says that you stand up for yourself. It says that you call people out on their errors. Though done in an unproductive way, you had the guts to tell someone when they made an error and to call them on it. That is a strength, sweetie. Millie will recognize that strength in you.

And when you screw up, she'll forgive you because you're her mamma and she loves you. Give yourself a break! :)

Marinewife1111 {Marcella} said...

Thank you for sharing and I'm glad everything turned out ok!
Don't worry about it and most importantly forgive yourself. As parents we want the absolute best for our family, but we are human and will continue to make mistakes!!
(((hugs)))

ginanorma said...

PTL for this post and your honestly and humility, it's the most precious of beauties, you hear me!? Do not be ashamed, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus--it's all under grace before we can even have shame. Guilt sure, but not shame. Girl you are so brave to share such a happening, and look what you are taking away from it! That is what I was talking about in my Vlog, ---dig down deep and find out why you would respond that way--even if it's out of character, search as to why this happened, what was that in you? You are letting everything teach you and in motherhood there is no better quality. When I've made mistakes and screwed up, i've just ended up on my knees, and I heal, I learn, I grow. And even if millie was madelynn's age and she saw that--there would still be grace, but this time from your daughter, not just God. Even if she had been older and saw this, it would all still be OK.

Love you sister...xoxoxo

greaterexp said...

You can see from all the comments, that you aren't alone. Since we are all going to make mistakes, and though we want to avoid that as much as possible, once it's done, we still have an opportunity to demonstrate a good response to our own less-than-perfect behavior. I would much rather be able to erase the bad, but it's cool how God still gives us the chance to tell our kids in some form, "Did you see what I did? I'm sorry I behaved that way. That's not a good way to do things, and this is what I should have done." And then the next time the situation comes up, we do it better. God help us all.
You're a darling to admit this and remind us all that the whole world, and especially our families, is (are) watching. Your true character will shine, and I know your character is a wonderful one.

Jen said...

This happens to everyone, besides being a great mother you are human. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and there is nothing wrong with that.

Holly Robertson said...

It's the instinct in us as women, mothers and potential mothers. You channeled all the fear for your daughter and anger into one gesture. I would have been less careful. My own mother would have gotten out and beat his ass when he had walked over and said something so rude. You did Not make a mistake, nor did you put her in needless danger.
Eric always tells me to buy a gun. Maybe you and I should get out license. It hurts me that you feared for your daughter because some man was an ass. Your anger was not bad or evil, use it live it and learn from it. Love you.

Fran said...

Happens to everyone, son. Learn from this experience but keep in mind that it's natural to feel anger and fear, the goal is not to hold on to it.

Chantal said...

That sounds like a scary moment! I would've gotten angry as well. But like you said, you never know if he had a weapon, or what could've happened in the situation. You live and learn!

____j said...

Although we're Moms, we're only human. I've had moments similar to this, and I immediately feel crappy about it. I strive daily to be a better person for my daughter, and I hate letting her down, so I know how you felt in this situation.

Taylor said...

Thanks for being honest. I'm not a mom but have said some absolutely awful things to
my husband out of anger and/or despair-words I wish I could take back but can't. Words are the hardest things for me to control by far.

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