It’s always momma’s fault

I think I’m a good mom.

Oh, I know that’s taboo to say; we’re all supposed to be berating ourselves while wearing hairshirts and walking on nailbeds, but I’m amazed that the girl who hated babysitting and never thought she’d have children thoroughly enjoys life as a mother of six.

I’m patient, I’m kind. I set high expectations but never berate kids for failing. Effusive with praise, I’m also stern when they need to get something done. My kids are great workers, embrace good values and laugh every day.

But man, this week I feel like a failure. I just can’t stay on top of it all. It’s small stuff mostly. The note from Gabe’s teacher informing me he’s missing six math assignments (because I never do check his backpack). The scramble to find his ski pass yesterday– and I told him to take Mary’s (because he does own a pass and she wasn’t skiing) which resulted in both passes being revoked. Yes, his stuff is his responsibility, but if I didn’t have twenty junk drawers and messy closets these things would never get lost.

a rare shot of me with all six– you can see there’s always a lot going on

Will I ever be able to give Xander enough attention? Fourth child is a rough spot.

And Mary, sweet Mary, I know I’m spoiling her with pretty dresses; I just hope all the vacuuming and dishes will make up for it.

OK, here’s the kicker. The last few months Stefan has been buried in paperwork with college and scholarship applications not to mention his five AP classes and one concurrent enrollment. I’m honestly thrilled any time I see that poor kid goofing off. “Stay out late Stefan!” “Drink milkshakes!” “Make a movie with your little brothers.” “Kiss the girl!”

And I’ve been bemoaning that fact that all these hoity- toity scholarships which take masses of time(like National Merit and U.S. Presidential) have no money behind them, they just sound cool when/if (humongous IF) you are the 1/100,000 kid chosen. One award he was nominated for took an entire weekend of essays and letters only to find if he is the ONE kid chosen in the state he’ll receive $500.

So after the flurry of applications ended, we sat down this weekend to fill out the Regent’s Scholarship. This is the best, easiest scholarship in the state– you simply have to take certain core classes, get decent grades and fill out the form. It’s a sure thing, there’s no essay or interview– if you have the qualifications you get a nice fat $11,000 scholarship.

And yeah, we missed the deadline.

It’s pretty much like building a bonfire with eleven thousand one dollar bills.

No, it won’t keep him out of college. And I guess I could spread the blame around a bit, but I’m so afraid my ineptitude will keep this fabulous, hard-working kid out of the school of his dreams. I could write a great essay on everything NOT to do while applying to colleges (#1– don’t be a white male #2 don’t do single choice early application no matter who talks you into it because it will exclude you from nearly every scholarship in the nation). I’m sure I sound whiny, but if you could see Stefan working from sun-up to sun-down you’d understand.

And here’s the larger question, how can we stand to send Stefan to school at all? And then on a mission for two years? He is the quiet rock of our family– unfailingly kind, generous and good. I’m still recovering from sending Ben off. Please don’t say his mission is flying by (even though it is for you) I’ll either burst into tears or kick you in the shins. It seems unbearably cruel that Ben will come home in a year just in time to see Stefan leave. How will my heart bear five missions in a row?

Forgive my lamentations, these are absolutely comfortable middle-class complaints, but I always feel better after writing. Things will work out, I know, things will work out. I take comfort from Ben’s letters. The year before he left was horrific in many ways (my mother dying, the cruel and contemplated destruction of my extended family). I cried every day; sometimes all day. I swore and yelled and threw things. And I worried his last year with us, his memories of home, would be marred by my grief.

Yet his letters are full of love and praise and “you’re the best mom I could ever hope for.” And I believe when a child is truly, wholly loved for their individual magnificence, they will forgive our fumblings and failings, forgetfulness and general disorganization. I love my children profoundly, deeply; I tell them every day in a hundred ways. I see them for who they really are– God’s children.

I still think I’m a good mom.

February 19, 2012
February 24, 2012



  1. kara jayne

    February 21, 2012

    oh michelle…i LOVE THIS! you are an amazing mom. i often find myself wishing i was more like you!

    you are so right though…if they feel genuinely loved for who they are, we have succeeded.

    i’m so sorry about the regent’s scholarship. my heart sank for you. it will be alright. stefan is who he is because you helped him grow and bloom.

  2. ellen

    February 21, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your kids with the world! They are making it a better place. (And you seem like an awesome mom!)

  3. Blue

    February 21, 2012

    if only every kid in the world could have such a magical mother as you…

  4. Queen Scarlett

    February 21, 2012

    Love this:

    And I believe when a child is truly, wholly loved for their individual magnificence, they will forgive our fumblings and failings, forgetfulness and general disorganization.

  5. jen

    February 21, 2012

    you are a truly awesome mom who does a million things and can be forgiven for a couple “mistakes”.

  6. Kerri

    February 21, 2012

    I needed this today. And yes, you are a good mom. And I’m SO sorry about the scholarship…it’s exactly something I would do.

  7. Linn

    February 21, 2012

    “I love my children profoundly, deeply; I tell them every day in a hundred ways. I see them for who they really are–God’s children.”


    More than enough.

    And MUCH more important than a scholarship deadline. (But I’m really sorry.)

    Thanks for the sweet reminder.

  8. Reluctant Nomad

    February 21, 2012

    Don’t worry, I’ll happily take the ‘wearing hair shirts and walking on nail beds’ mothering stance so that you can magnificently take your ‘good mom’ one. I’m glad you’re where you’re at. 🙂

  9. Reluctant Nomad

    February 21, 2012

    Besides? You’re left-handed. It excuses (or at least explains) all of the aforementioned mistakes. And if it doesn’t? oh well, it’s still a great excuse. My favorite, actually.

  10. katieo

    February 21, 2012

    Bah! I swear every single one of your posts touches me in a way that bring tears.
    thank you thank you for sharing your lamentations.

  11. Azúcar

    February 21, 2012

    Phew. What a relief.

  12. Cath

    February 22, 2012

    You’re an exceptional Mom. I see it every time I’m in your house. Your kids definitely know they’re loved. And you are doing remarkable things. I too am sorry about the regent’s scholarship. Can we all sign a petition for an extended deadline? xo

  13. Kit Linkous

    February 22, 2012

    it is always good to know your hero is human too 🙂
    love you

  14. Lisa

    February 22, 2012

    Goodness…when they handed out Momma’s your children won the lottery! They are so very blessed to have such a mother…including all the faults she thinks she might have. My favorite thought…”I see them for who they really are– God’s children”. Beautiful, and that’s what being a mom is all about!

  15. Adri

    February 22, 2012

    I think so, too. Hugs to you!

  16. Tracy

    February 22, 2012

    You are such an amazing mom. Your love is deep and profound and your kids amazing for it.

    Most days I cannot even remember my kids names.

  17. cristie

    February 22, 2012

    no doubt about it…

    you are an amazing mother.

    shout it out—i am. xox

  18. Lizzy

    February 22, 2012

    Will Stefan even remember in five years that he didn’t get the scholarship application in on time? I don’t think he will, but he will remember all the love you constantly show him.

    Also, after my last brother left on his mission (five out of us six children served a mission–the only one who didn’t has special needs), my dad said, “It gets harder every time.” Hang in there while you sacrifice your boys to the Lord.

  19. jenjamin

    February 22, 2012

    Oh my that is beautiful. You are a wonderful mom. Such an inspiration.

    “A man should never be ashamed to admit he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words, he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” ~Alexander Pope

    be gentle with yourself. love you friend

  20. Claudia

    February 23, 2012

    I loved hanging out in your kitchen this morning and talking about our babies like only we mommies can. You amaze me, everyday.

  21. cristie

    February 23, 2012

    your quest for lent…the best i’ve heard. xox

  22. ashli

    February 23, 2012

    you are an amazing mom! i get to see it from a back door neighbors point of view and i truly admire you, your kids and all the good you create!

  23. Tasha

    February 23, 2012

    I think we all need to tell ourselves that we are good more often. I recently realized that I’ve firmly believed that I was a bad person for the past 6 years just because I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. I’m learning to say “I am a good person,” and it is so liberating.

    Now that I’m grown up, I don’t remember the times that my mom forgot to give me lunch money or was late getting me to soccer practice. All I remember is how much fun we had and how fiercely she loved me. And your kids certainly feel the same about you.

  24. Tasha

    February 23, 2012

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Tiffanie

    February 24, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this. It helps me to put my stuff in perspective.

    You are amazing.

  26. Anne Marie

    February 24, 2012

    You are a magnificent mom. It’s crystal-clear in the kind of love that’s radiating (practically blinding me sometimes) from my computer screen when I read your blog.

    Thank you for sharing your soul here.

    So sorry about the lost scholarship. I can only say that I could absolutely and completely see myself doing the same thing 20 times over. No shortage of unsorted papers over at my house (and I’m not even dealing with college applications yet).

    I am a firm believer in Grace. It’s what gets me through each day as I stumble through my day.

    Sending you hope and love. You are a blessing to your family. They are so lucky to have you.

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