by Sara K.
I am a big fan of forgiveness, I am human and make mistakes often, which require an apology. Every time my kids go anywhere they bring something back home with them. I never knew paper could be so suffocating. Drawings from church, school, even kid's museums find their way on my counter. It seems everywhere they go beautiful "masterpieces" are made from paper. That's what my kids call them, "masterpieces". Since they are all masterpieces, my children think they must be treasured forever. Multiply that by three and I have trees glaring at me every time I walk out the door.
They often show me these wonderful drawings and then leave them on the table when they move on to something else. I am left to figure out what to do with the latest masterpieces. I admit, more often than not I throw the papers away, I can't keep them all, even trying to keep one a month, makes to much clutter, requires storage I don't have. No harm done they don't remember it, and life goes on, right? Sometimes if they are especially attached to something that child will put it on the fridge or cork board in their room. With school finishing up, more "masterpieces" are being brought home as the teachers clean off their own bulletin boards.
Last week my daughter brought me a picture of a flower garden drawn with markers, on notebook paper. I made my normal compliments and she went on to the next thing. When I needed the counter space to make dinner I'm sure it, along with so many of the days "masterpieces" went into the trash. Two days later, my daughter asked about that flower garden drawing, while I was talking on the phone and preparing dinner. Dread played across my face while she started shuffling through papers in the basket at the kitchen desk then looking through the trash, finding that day's masterpieces discarded. I quickly got off the phone, while listening to her grumble about a paper destroyed because it was wet from coffee grinds. I mentally started to prepare my confession and get myself ready for the scream scene that surely lay ahead. Watching big crocodile tears stream down her face, I cleared my throat and began to talk.
"Mckinley, I think mom threw that picture out." Knowing that's where it had to be, if she couldn't find it, as that was the destiny of most papers in my household. "What do you mean?" she replied her voice shaking, on the verge of a complete meltdown. "That was my best picture....ever! YOU even said how nice the flowers looked and how the clouds were big and puffy!" I love how children can make you feel like scum. I looked at her, took her hands out of the trash can and began talking. "I'm sorry. The picture's not there. The trash man came yesterday, the picture is gone. I made a mistake please forgive me." She replied through sobs before stomping to her room "I can't forgive you! You threw away my favorite picture...every!" Pleading and following her I asked if she could make another one like it, and got a big NO! I continued to apologize and asked what I could do to make it up to her. After some groveling she allowed me to help her on a new picture after dinner. We also agreed that I would try to take a picture of the masterpieces with my phone, so if they got thrown away we could still enjoy looking at them.
Sometimes it's important as moms to humble ourselves and confess mistakes to our kids. They mirror our actions, confessing that I might have thrown it away, and asking for forgiveness is something I would expect from them. I'm not perfect, nor do I want them to think I am, because no one is perfect all the time. I need to model when I make a mistake humble myself through confession and ask for forgiveness. I don't want them to try to be perfect all the time, it's impossible. I also learned that I don't own their feelings. I could have told her from my grown up perspective she was being ridiculous, that we can't keep everything. But to her, it was an important thing, just like my shopping list is and important thing for me. I had to allow her time and space to hurt, I had to take responsibility for the hurt she felt. She had a right to be upset about the picture, and with me. It was important to her and I discarded it without her knowledge, that doesn't make her wrong, just normal.
The following week she found her treasured drawing in a folder in her bookshelf, where she often places her masterpieces. I'm glad she found it, and we had a good time drawing and coloring our own flower garden picture.
Originally published in the Summer 2014 Indian Creek MOPS newsletter.