On Messing Up and Finding Grace

We’re on Day 2 of 5 Days of Day Camp which obviously means we barely made it to the buses this morning.

And, by barely, I mean the buses were rolling, friends – engines sputtering and PULLING AWAY from the curb – while four of my kids ran at the front of them, following the directions I’d barked in the car on the way there.

“If the buses haven’t left yet, lady and gentlemen,” I said, “we run for them as soon as we park. We RUN. WHAT DO WE DO, kids?”

“WE RUN!” they chorused.

And that’s what they did. Pell-mell. With enthusiasm. Drawing on all those late-to-school, jump-from-the-van, “Go, go, GO” rehearsals we conducted this year. And totally heedless to their mama who was behind them hollering new directions, too late, like, “WAIT!” and “STOP!” and “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO GET RUN OVER!”

Which is why I thank God for Erin, our excellent, wonderful, awesome, BEAUTIFUL camp coordinator, who saw my kids coming, stopped the buses with one hand, waved a door open a la Moses parting the Red Sea, and ushered my littlest two aboard while, with her other hand, she directed my middle schoolers to their seats in two other vehicles. All while deflecting my “I’m so sorry… I’m SO sorry…” apologies with smiles and those most soothing words of mamaraderie, “I barely made it here with my kids, too.” And I don’t even care if she was lying, friends. I do not care. I just want to make it up to her. Although I do feel that NOT throwing my arms around her ankles and washing her feet with my grateful tears and then rising to kiss her on the mouth is, perhaps, thanks enough. (You’re welcome, Erin.)

I want you to know, we were going to be on time this morning because I was on it. I mean, sure, I hit my 9-minute snooze button 3 extra times. And yes, I was mostly naked until 24 seconds before we walked out the door. And of course I shoved my mascara in my purse and carried my shoes in my hands on the way to the car. BUT. But. But I did a good job getting the kids ready. I did. I did. 

As soon as I leapt from the bed, I started issuing orders. From the top of the stairs in a loud, booming voice, to the kids somewhere on the floor beneath me, I bellowed, “SHOES! Do you guys have your shoes and socks on?”

And they yelled, “YES!”

And I clarified because I am no rookie, “ALL OF YOU?”

And they yelled, “YES!”

Five minutes later, I hollered down the stairs, “BREAKFAST! Did you guys eat breakfast?”

And they yelled, “YES!”

And I yelled, “ALL OF YOU?”

And they yelled, “YES!”

Four minutes later, I belted, “BACKPACKS! …”

Three minutes later, “SUNSCREEN! …”

Two minutes later, “SWIMSUITS! …”

And then, with juuuuuusst enough time to get everyone in the car and to the bus before it was scheduled to leave, and right after I threw yesterday’s clothes back on my body, I yelled, “OK! EVERYONE IN THE CAR.”

And you guys. You GUYS. THEY DID IT. With their shoes on and their tummies full and their backpacks in hand, they trooped to the car. And just before the littlest one closed the door behind him, he yelled back up the stairs, “Is Aden coming, Mom?”

And I said, “OF COURSE Aden’s coming. Why wouldn’t she be coming?” Which is when it dawned on me that perhaps he was asking that question for a reason. Which is when it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard her voice in the chorus of bellows from below. Which is when it transpired that I popped my head into her bedroom. Which is when I discovered her asleep in bed. Sweetly asleep. Soundly asleep. Sans shoes. Sans socks. Sans breakfast. Sans backpack and sunscreen and swimsuit. Sans mommy who keeps track of her kids.


And so we scrambled. And we rushed. And I threw a breakfast bar which barely missed Aden’s head. And my kids didn’t get run over by the bus because Erin has Moses magic.

After the bus left, and after I chattered at a friend about all the mama crimes I’d just committed, and after I hopped back in my car and laid my head on my steering wheel and shook the noggin back and forth and back and forth, I headed to grab a quick coffee before my morning meetings. And I sat in the coffee line rehashing what a dumb dummy I am because I’m still working on positive self-talk and loving myself and accepting that I make mistakes, and some days that’s harder work than others. 

I ordered my usual cappuccino, I added a muffin to the mix, and I pulled up to the pay window where they waved me through.

“The car ahead of you paid for your order,” they said. “You’re good to go!”

And I pulled away and cried at the stop light. Like a dumb dummy. Because it occurred to me how great a gift it was to screw up and be met with mercy. And then to have mercy compounded with kindness. As though I didn’t need to be punished or to pay. Just loved. And enough. And worth a smile and a warm cup of coffee and grace. 

And that’s my wish for all of us today. That we’d know we’re worthy of the deepest love. And that we’d recognize that love when it finds us. 

Grace, friends.


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9 responses to “On Messing Up and Finding Grace”

  1. I always binge read your blog. I’ll go a week or two without reading and then just gulp it all down on night. I love doing it this way I can relax into the pattern with which you write. Your style is so soothing and comforting and funny. I finally figured out tonight what it reminds me of… the lyrical-ness of “Oh, the places you’ll go.” You match the writing skills of one of the best. Thanks for sharing your talent.

  2. Hmm, grace…still a beautiful sound some 2000 years later! So happy someone was able to reflect the mission of Jesus to you in such a tangible way! I’m a new member to the 5 kids club finally learning that even with all my efforts to be in time and have it all together, I am still going to fall short of perfection and that is perfectly acceptable!

  3. What a beautiful story! I almost cried when you ended up with the free coffee & muffin.

    Two years ago, I managed to get all of the way to our homeschool co-op with the baby (kid #5) wearing nothing but a diaper. (The kids put him into the car, and the kids claimed they were all ready.) On a 40 degree day. And the diaper bag had no spare clothing (diapers, yes, but clothing, no).

    We *all* have our moments, especially those of us with a big pile of kids, because it can be so hard to tell if that chorus of yeses actually included every needed voice. I’m trying to get them to understand count-offs, but failing miserably.

  4. I just want to tell you that I love you. Now, you might be kinda weirded out by that, because I’m, you know, a stranger. You’ve never met me or seen me or even heard my name. I live far far away, and only through the magic that is the interweb would we ever cross paths. My cousin’s wife shared one of your blog posts on Facebook, and that is how I came to know you. I don’t remember exactly which post she shared but I do remember laughing so hard (while at work) that I snorted (loudly) and subsequently tried to regain my composure by waving a hand in my face (which had turned a horrible shade of red). Yeah…it didn’t work. I still looked like a crazy person.
    Although I’ve only recently subscribed to your blog, I feel like you take words right out of my head and put them onto paper (er…cyberspace?). Only more eloquently. And more funny. And with more good bits than I would be able to scrape together.
    So thank you for your words of encouragement – especially to us Mommies that are all too good at self-deprecation. And for letting us see the lighter side to our crazy and often not-so-great parenting moments. And that we’re not alone in the chaos and mess. Cause misery loves company. True story. 🙂

  5. You looked so good at 9:00, this must have happened yesterday! So glad you met Mercy and Grace first thing.

  6. So glad this happened to you this morning. God loves us even during our rush of a morning or day. Your children made it and that is what counts. They are happy, you are happy and you get to do it all over again tomorrow. Sometimes as moms we are so stinking hard on ourselves. Our kids get through the hurried-ness of running here and there and so do we. By the end of some days I’m tired and deflated and have raised my voice too many times to count to one or two or all three if my children but they run in repeatedly to get one more kiss not because they are avoiding bedtime but because they love me with all their heart and soul. Now that is Grace at its best.

    Hope you have an awesome tomorrow!

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