I am an ordinary mom. But sometimes, I have moments of parenting greatness. Sometimes, I have moments of epic failure.
I had two loser mom moments in as many days last week. The first came when my sweet five-year-old was invited to a friend birthday party. Since she isn’t in school yet, these parties are few and far between, like maybe one a year. She has to watch her older siblings who are both in school go to various parties while she sits at home with mom and her baby sister. She had been talking about this party ever since the invitation arrived. I typed it into my e-calendar. And then forgot to check the calendar that day. I was doing laundry, blissfully unaware I had just broken my girl’s heart by forgetting the party. She didn’t remember either, but what five year old has any concept of time and date? I was transferring towels into the dryer when I suddenly realized the party had come. And gone. It had ended about fifteen minute prior.
“Honey!” I said as I found her playing in her room, “I forgot about the birthday party and now it’s over. I’m so sorry!”
“It’s OK,” she told me, though her misty eyes said otherwise. “Can we at least go give him his present?”
We took the present, carefully wrapped and chosen two days before, to the party house, the remains of an epic party clear on the lawn. I explained to the child’s dad I had just forgotten, totally spaced it. The cute little birthday boy said, “Can we do the party over?”
His dad responded, “I wish we could, buddy, but the animals are already gone.” Animals? My daughter missed the party of the century complete with rented petting zoo? We left with the goody bag. My five-year-old was mollified, but I felt even worse than before.
The very next day, my ten-year-old son had his Arrow of Light ceremony for Cub Scouts. He was going to be receiving the highest award in cub scouting. We even got his uncle whom he doesn’t see very often to perform the ceremony. I had baked 3 dozen cupcakes for the event (six of which got dropped and a dozen of which were grossly inedible because I was trying to bake egg-free for the first time). I sat down for the ceremony, after having taken care of a few things for an activity with the youth of our church I was in charge of that would be later that same evening and realized I had left the camera and video camera home. Now, I know some of you are saying, “Why didn’t you just whip out your phone?” I am extremely cheap when it comes to electronics; I still have a flip phone. I sat there cursing my frugality, cursing my schedule, and knowing this seminal event would have no record beyond my faulty memory due to my lack of planning and crazy schedule.
Fast forward a week. I am Super Mom, able to leap end-of-school dilemmas in a single bound. I am so good I have almost convinced myself I look great in tights. With my underwear on the outside. And a big red S on my (nonexistent) chest.
My eight-year-old daughter comes in way past her bed time and tells me she needs cowboy boots for her program the next day. (It’s always 10:30 PM, and they need it the very next day, isn’t it?) “I have to have them, Mom,” she pleaded, “because I’m on the front row and everyone will be able to see I’m wearing shoes instead of boots to go with my Jessie costume.” Since she had just recently received neon hightops, I could see her point. So, I hurriedly emailed my fabulous neighborhood fellow moms, and one of them became my Super Mom sidekick for the day. She brought over pink boots and hat, in a size just perfect for my daughter, that morning after she had left for school. I toted the boots to school in my invisible (Dodge Caravan) jet. As I stood at the classroom door, handing the boots to my daughter whose face lit up brighter than on Christmas morning, I could feel my cape, whipping in the breeze as my hair magically stayed put and perfectly styled.
The next twenty four hours only heightened my Super Mom status. I attended four (4!) performances of my two oldest kids in 24 hours, made my five-year-old feel special with a pancakes for dinner birthday celebration, a hand-made sign on her chair, a birthday pan of brownies, and a make-over she had begged for. I did her make-up and she did mine. Though I have on more mascara than an entire red light district and my cheeks look as if they have recently lost a battle with a pack of angry pumas, I proudly took a picture which I am unabashedly sharing with all of you.
And I even did two loads of laundry, read to and cuddled the one-year-old, made salt dough for the ten-year-old’s class project and got everybody fed in those same twenty four hours. Whew.
What do our kids learn from the Super Mom moments? They learn their moms are always going to be there for them. They learn they are loved, they come first, and their mom is a pretty great person. Bask in those Super Mom moments. File them away for times when your child claims, “But you never do anything for me, Mom!” But I think the Loser Mom moments may be even more instructive and helpful to them.
When we have our Loser Mom moments–and we all have them–they learn it’s OK to make their own mistakes. They learn over-committing and under-planning is not a successful combination. They learn people will let them down sometimes, but that doesn’t mean those people don’t love and care about them. They learn they will sometimes be the loser, and it’s OK, because a superhero moment is right around the corner. Most of all, they learn their mom is human after all, and she deserves a chance to make mistakes, forget things, and learn from her failures just like they should. Just, please, if my failures ever become epic enough to warrant TV coverage, don’t let the above picture become my mug shot.