Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Of Cleats and Such

It happened. Today, I utterly failed one of my children, and I had to look in tear-filled little eyes and tell my youngest daughter that the current situation was all my fault. We were sitting there on her closet floor looking eye-to-eye - she saying that she was sorry she couldn't remember where something was so she was going to be late, and I saying that I didn't come through on my responsibility to buy some equipment/supplies for her. It seemed so simple: youngest daughter needed new cleats for her soccer practice by today at 5:00 PM. Now mind you, I knew she needed cleats since the end of last week, and somewhere in my magical thinking I must have thought they would just show up. Even this morning, I knew I needed to get her cleats before practice. But....sometimes life happens, and in certain moments, it grows into this unwieldy and far-reaching monster.

I left for work today at 7:20 AM and didn't get home until 4:00 PM. My neighbor brought my son home from school, and we were discussing how we would work tomorrow morning's carpool. My son was upset about a project and HAD to show me his papers right then (with much angst in his voice and demeanor). Kari had forgotten that she had practice, so she was doing her homework without a thought in the world about getting ready for practice.

My husband had been in an all day meeting, and when he arrived home (about 4:45 PM), the two of us were trying to brief each other on the big things that had happened. All the while, the phone was ringing, and the kids were buzzing in and around us. Then in the middle of a sentence, it hit me....."It's 4:55, and my daughter isn't dressed, and I haven't bought the cleats, and her coach said the kids were NOT to be late!"

If you know my youngest (a driven, anxious, Type A girl), you will understand that when she realized the situation, she was in agony. She took her coach's words seriously (and the coach surely looked serious when she said them)that the girls were to arrive early for practice so that when she (the coach) stepped on the field at 5:00 PM, they would be ready and waiting. (I know soccer should be fun, and it will be when they actually start playing, but Kari is the new girl on a team that has been together for a while, so she doesn't really feel she belongs. Therefore, she is even more driven to do everything perfectly.) Anyway, Kari wasn't dressed, didn't have her bag packed, didn't have her water bottle, and most importantly, she didn't have any shoes to wear! She started frantically searching for her soccer socks, and of course, they were no where to be found. Then, in her anxious struggle, she couldn't find her shin guards. She felt the pressure to be dressed and at practice in exactly five minutes which was impossible because we hadn't even been to the store to buy her cleats yet.

And this was the moment when I felt that I had utterly failed her. I knew how important this was to her. I saw her crumble against her closet door, crying, taking all the responsibility for the situation on herself because she wasn't dressed and couldn't find her shin guards. She kept apologizing for moving her shin guards to another place and forgetting where she had stashed them. As plump, round tears rolled down her hot cheeks, she apologized for not putting her water bottle in the refrigerator last night.

To be honest, it felt like my heart was literally breaking inside my chest. I sat down in front of her and told her that it was my fault, not hers. I knew she had practice, and I forgot to remind her after school; I didn't manage my time well to make sure I got her where she needed to be in time; I didn't get the cleats last weekend because we had two birthday parties and school starting, and I just didn't think it all through; I let the busyness of a school afternoon take precedence over something that was of utmost importance to my daughter. And now she was paying the price. I sat there not really knowing what to do next. I knew that it really wouldn't work for her to get to the practice late because there would be a price for her to pay publicly before the team, and it just didn't seem fair that she would have to carry that when it wasn't her fault. Not to mention, at the first practice, we had to tell her coach that she would miss the second practice because we had scheduled her birthday party for the same day and time before getting the soccer practice schedule. So, my youngest already felt she let the team down and even more so now. For my daughter, that was the crushing weight caused her to crumble in front of me.

I know things happen. I know I've made plenty of other mistakes and will make some whoppers in the future. I know I'm not perfect, and I can live with that. But when failure to plan on my part so affects my child......well, that hurts me deeply.

But then........I had a few quiet moments because Dad stepped in and took her to get the elusive cleats, I sensed that the unexpected free time that missing practice would provide was exactly what we needed. Sometimes, we just need to breathe, to be, to step outside of the craziness and realize that we should be in control of our activities, not the other way around. As a result of our afternoon meltdown, priorities changed, and I became aware of the holy in the common. I didn't cook dinner tonight, but I did help my son with his project. We didn't have my daughter's cleats, but we did re-assure her of our love. My daughter had some one-on-one time with Dad, and she was able to finish her homework. We were all home (even the two high-schoolers!), and that in itself is a comforting thing. Everyone went to bed on time (except me, of course), and tomorrow is a new day filled with all of the grace and mercy that we will need. I am so thankful for God's promise that He gives strength to us, and blesses us with peace. (Ps: 29-11) I will sleep with a sense of peace tonight because in the midst of the chaos, He is with us and His grace is sufficient. O, how I thank Him for His faithfulness!


Joanne Reese said...

Oh Gena, I have so been there. I felt my own insecurities and failures rise to the surface just reading about your day.

Your transparency makes me feel closer to you - I feel like we have more in common. It is good to know that I am not alone in this rat race called life.

For what it's worth - you failed with much grace and beauty.

Mari said...

Failure is such a strong word! I think we all make mistakes, we are humans after all and that means we aren't perfect. I see you as a wonderfully successful Mom for being truly honest, loving and transparent with your daughter! It doesn't get better than that! You are such a blessing to your family and all of us fortunate enough to know you!

Gena said...

I am so blessed to be surrounded by such grace-giving people. I appreciate your encouragement as I continue to journey towards becoming more like Him.

Anonymous said...

How do you rebuild a trust and love when as a parent I have blown it so many times and have not handled the situation well at all? How do I allow my duaghter to become more independent and responsible without smothering her own identity and still having a house that show respect and love for each other?

Gena said...

Dear Anonymous,

I responded personally to your email. Thanks for trusting me with your heart. I am praying for you.