Here’s my most recent motherhood faux pas (okay, the most recent one was ten minutes ago, but it wasn’t good enough to blog about):

Two weeks ago my first grader brought home a note saying his class would be dismissed two hours early the following Monday and Tuesday. Crap, I thought. I have enough trouble remembering things on our usual schedule. Throw in a monkey wrench like this, and there’s no telling what might happen.

My son must’ve sensed this, because he reminded me repeatedly about the schedule change all weekend long, as well as Monday morning. Don’t forget! he said.

No problem, I said. I’ll be there. Count on it. And ta-dah! On Monday afternoon at 1:25 I pulled up in the school driveway, triumphant. Big grins from my son.

On Tuesday afternoon at 2:05 the telephone rang.

Now, I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story, but I’ll tell you anyway: My son waited on the street corner in front of the school for 40 minutes, craning his neck so he could look farther down the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of our 1994 BMW. (That’s Big Mormon Wagon to you.) Eventually one of the Kindergarten teachers caught sight of him and brought him to the office, where one of the prim-faced secretaries looked up the phone number for the poor kid’s negligent mother. And when I pulled up in the school driveway there were no big grins. Instead, my son’s face twisted with relief and held-back tears.

I waited for an hour, he managed to choke out. I will never, ever forget the look in his eyes.  

Of course I cried, and made sure he knew it wasn’t really an hour, and apologized profusely, and let him play games on my computer for an hour once we got home. It still hurts to think about, which is good, because pain is an effective teacher, and I never want to leave my kid on the corner again. (Although I confess, I probably will.) But it also makes a great Mother’s Day story, does it not?

So let’s have it, ladies. What’s your latest or greatest screw-up? You know what I mean–the one that’ll make us laugh and/or groan in sisterly sympathy. Not the one that’ll spark a lawsuit. (Those, you can email me privately.) 

(Joking. I’m joking.)





  1. Lee Ann

    May 11, 2008

    Our 5-year-old got separated from us at the library. Since Mommy sometimes would say impatiently, “Bye-bye! We’re leaving! Aren’t you coming?” he figured we’d left without him. So he started off walking for home.

    A nice lady found him walking toward the busy street at twilight. He wasn’t scared–just taking care of business.

    Now whenever I hear women tell their kids, “Bye-bye! We’re leaving! Aren’t you coming?” I want to grab them by the shirt and yell, “Don’t SAY that! He’s LISTENING!” Who knew?

  2. Heather O.

    May 11, 2008

    Heck, I LIVED on the school street corner, as my mother was always, always, ALWAYS late picking me up from school. And I’m not bitter. Much. And I think I turned out pretty normal. Mostly.

    But despite my childhood vows that I would never, ever be late in picking up my kids, I, too, picked up my kid 20 minutes late from preschool, which is even worse because they FINE you for every minute you are late. He crawled into my car in tears, and said, “I was so WORRIED about you.” Yeah, it was bad.

    But just today, my kid limped inside after playing, and I said, “What’s wrong?”

    “My foot is bleeding, but it’s okay. Lacy’s dad gave me a bandaid.”

    Later, I thanked my next door neighbor for attending to my child, and he said, “Well, he was in the middle of the street crying, so I figured the least I could do was give him a bandaid.”


  3. Justine

    May 11, 2008

    Many years ago when my second child was a toddler, I was all in a huff about something (I don’t even recall what it was anymore). I was in the driveway hollering at my oldest about something and I stormed into the house, slamming the screen door behind me. Little did I know that my toddler was following me, and I slammed her foot in the door, tearing off her entire toenail.

    I thought for sure the doctor was going to remove the kids from the house and jail me up. He just laughed and said something like, “Don’t slam anymore doors and we’ll be just fine, dear.”

    I haven’t.

  4. Dalene

    May 11, 2008

    I’m e-mailing you.

    But the most recent one (maybe Friday?) was taking on the administration at my daughter’s middle school in a very public way. I said something that I meant–but that I probably shouldn’t have said–to a newspaper reporter. Having previously worked for a newspaper I knew as soon as I said it that it was a good quote. It was published on Saturday. Do I dare show my face at her school ever again? I look at it this way. At least they won’t be asking me to be PTA president anytime soon.

  5. brittney c.

    May 12, 2008

    Ladies, I love you all! Heather O., I actually did just laugh out loud.

    I’m the mom whose daughter is ALWAYS late for preschool. The one who, half the time, forgets to send her with a lunch. I think the preschool director really might hate our guts, but I’m not sure because I avoid eye contact with him at all cost.

    Among my MANY blunders as a mother, here’s one I won’t be forgetting: Visiting my mother in Colorado, my 4 year old and I were coming into the house through the door in the garage. I reached behind me to close the door and was surprised at how difficult it was to shut. Mom, I called out, does your door always stick? She said it wasn’t, but man I was crankin’ on it and nothin’ doing. That’s when I look down at my daughter’s face, eyes wide, mouth agape but soundless. And of course, that’s when I notice that her ring finger is hinged between the door and the frame. I won’t go into details. Suffice it simply to say that I’m glad my mother was there to pick me up off the floor, to throw water in my face and tell me to get ahold of myself. And also to nurse my child’s wound (I was crying too hard to see). Apparently, collapsing into hysteria is not the way to assure your child that everything is gonna be alright, especially when her finger is smashed pancake flat.

  6. brittney c.

    May 12, 2008

    woops, i meant to say “she said it didn’t.” i was just not born to blog!

  7. FoxyJ

    May 12, 2008

    Oh man, where to start. The other day I was having a bad morning and I thought we’d walk over to the playground with my kids to try and help mommy cool off. It was fine and I felt a lot better, but as we were walking through the parking lot of the shopping center to come home my kids stopped to play in the gravel. Suddenly my daughter (she’s 4) picked up a handful of rocks and threw them at a car! I totally lost it, picked them both up (I have an almost-two-year old), and started marching home while yelling at them both in my crazy mommy voice. People were staring at the crazy lady hauling two screaming children across the parking lot to home, and I’m honestly glad that no one called the cops on me. I’m also glad that my hubby was home to take them off my hands because I was totally done for the morning. Hopefully someday they’ll forgive the screaming fits. And they’ll learn not to throw rocks at cars. Not my finest moment.

    A month or two ago I left my curling iron down on the counter in the bathroom and my little guy grabbed it. He had giant blisters on his hand for several weeks and I felt horrible every time I looked at it.

  8. courtney

    May 12, 2008

    Ah, don’t worry– my mom was two hours late to pick me up from school ON MY BIRTHDAY. As traumatizing as that was to a 13 year-old, I have since recovered. Though, I do love to tell the story. (I was waiting outside . . . in the snow . . . on my birthday . . . )

  9. not mother theresa

    May 12, 2008

    My mommy blunders are legion, but I think I my worst moment was the time I threw my matted and framed copy of the Proclamation of the Family down the stairs and told my unruly children (whose father had been out of town for several days), “You make a mockery of this!”

    Yes, I’m still ashamed, but amused, too. I keep it–glassless and chipped on the corner–as is, just to remind me to think before I speak and act. And to have a sense of humor about real life.

  10. Justine

    May 12, 2008

    Mother Theresa you just make me fall off my seat laughing!

  11. Wendy

    May 12, 2008

    nmt, that totally cracks me up.

    I shower with my infant son, and have for several months. I thought I had a good thing going, hold him for a while, set him in his tub while I wash, hold him some more, etc. When he was 3 1/2 mos old, I had set him in his tub to wash my hair. I took my gargantuan size conditioner bottle, shook it upside down to get the conditioner out, and it FLEW out of my hands right at my son. It hit his chest and face, left a bruise on his chest that left me nervous to go to the doctor for a week. The look in his eyes was of terror and confusion. We both bawled and bawled.

    He now waits in the bouncy seat while I get cleaned off, before joining me.

  12. maralise

    May 12, 2008

    I sat on the corner long enough that the principal brought me home from school personally. I think I was in 1st grade. It happened more than once.

    And I adore my mom, love her faults, thinks she’s just about the best thing that ever happened to me. So, Kathy…you’re doing FINE.

    I have parenting ‘moments’ like this almost daily. Today, we found both boys at the playground that’s a few doors down from our house, completely naked, and recruiting other kids to come and play with them.

  13. Angela

    May 12, 2008

    Last week I let my 15 month old walk around in the (fenced) backyard while I puttered around the kitchen. I left the patio door open in a lame attempt to feel like I was keeping tabs on him. After a few minutes I hear some crying. Go out to find him and he’s no where . . . but still crying. Finally I use my bat-like sonar and discover he’s fallen into one of our ginormous rock window wells. And somehow–SOMEHOW–he’s standing on two feet and only has a little scratch on his knee. Kid’s got guardian angels–he made sure of it when he found out I was going to be his mom!

  14. tonya

    May 12, 2008

    One day I walked into the basement where my oldest was doing crafts. She had a glue gun on a wimpy board, on the carpet, that melted through and left a small hole in the carpet. I was furious. I brought the whole gang together, pointed to it and explained nicely (yea, sure) how NOT to use a glue gun.

    Well, last week I was busy ironing, sitting on the floor, watching TV and I was doing fine for a while, ironing, putting the iron up, ironing, putting the iron up, ironing…and placed it down – straight down on the carpet! PANIC – with the whole family in the room watching my reaction I started to cry and then burst out laughing. What else could I do?!? My sweet hubbie says “did you just do what I think you did?” I was laughing so hard I couldn’t think and all my oldest could say was “well, it serves you right!”

    So now right in the exact middle of our family room is a lovely imprint of an iron – steam holes and all – as my reminder to be nice. When my daughter forgot to cut on the cutting board all she said was “iron”. When another spilled in the kitchen all she said was “iron”. Great. Now they have ammo forever…

    And hubbie thinks its great and sees absolutely no reason to replace the carpet. EVER.

  15. D.

    May 12, 2008

    One day my children decided to walk around on the kitchen counters. I asked them nicely “Hey, why are you on the counters and will you please get down?” They didn’t. My requests for them to get down quickly escalated to not nice. I was not using the “tongue of angels.” What is the opposite of angels, minions? During their little stroll, one of them had managed to step on the answering machine button that records the outgoing message and captured my awful, screaming rant. When we realized what had happened, we listened to the recording a couple of times (they thought it was hilarious), I vowed to never scream at my dear children like that again and we quickly recorded a nice new message for people to listen to when they call and I decide not to answer the phone.

  16. Kathryn Soper

    May 12, 2008

    Thanks, ladies. You made my day. Especially NMT.

  17. m&m

    May 12, 2008

    Where to start indeed. I have too many bad mommy moments to recount. I appreciate posts like this that help us laugh a little at ourselves — and not feel so alone in our bad moments. We all have them, and yet we often don’t really share them. I like associating with ‘real’ moms. 🙂

    Ah, motherhood is such a process!

    And D., I had a moment like that — not quite in yelling mode, but was complaining about my child, without knowing that that three-way call I had just made never hung up, and my little whine session was recorded on the voice mail of someone I admire a ton. It was embarrassing.

  18. Shelah

    May 13, 2008

    Last summer, my mom and my oldest son ganged up on me. He wanted to go on a zoo tour (specifically to see some giant pandas and the nearest ones are in Memphis, which is about 12 hours from here). So she told him (without my pre-approval) that she and I would take him to Memphis and St. Louis, which is his favorite zoo. I had a bad attitude going into the trip, feeling like the decision to embark on a week-long vacation with four days in the car with four kids should have been mine to make, not hers. So there’s a little bit of background.

    We got through the trip and were making our way home. I was tired. Zoos are not my favorite places. Zoos in the midwest and south in July are definitely not my favorite places. My mom, who has an artificial hip, fell during an insane early-morning workout at the St. Louis YMCA and spent the second half of the trip on crutches. Bryce hates all road food except fast food. My mom hates fast food. I’d had it trying to make them both happy.

    About two hours from home, we pulled into a Dairy Queen to stretch our legs and eat some ice cream. Strangely enough, my mom likes Dairy Queen. Ever since I had announced, five miles back, that we were going to Dairy Queen, Bryce started in asking, “What am I going to eat?” He must have said it thirty times. Bryce hates vanilla ice cream, but strangely enough, he eats ice cream sandwiches from the grocery store.

    So we sat down, and I ordered him an ice cream sandwich. When he got it, it was round, not rectangular like he was expecting. He wouldn’t try it. He wouldn’t bite it, lick it, or even smell it.

    I lost it. He was being so irrational! “Take a bite!” “You’ll like it.” “Just take a darn bite.” I broke off a piece and tried to force it in his mouth. When I realized that everyone in this sleepy little DQ in rural Texas was staring at me, I bolted out of the place, and retreated to the car, sobbing, leaving my mom with the kids. Oh well, she was the one who wanted to go on the trip in the first place, right?

  19. nanajan

    May 16, 2008

    My claim to fame is that I missed my daughter’s fifth grade maturation program at school. She was the ONLY girl without a mother there and just spent the whole time looking at the door because she KNEW I would be coming. The sad truth is that I was just at home and forgot to go. She’s 19 now and I think she’s forgiven me.

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