Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Better late than never?

"and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us." (Matthew 6:12 NLT)

6:08. 6:12. I checked my watch again. 6:18. I texted the babysitter and received confirmation of what I already suspected. He forgot.

My meeting starts at 7:00. It takes 20 minutes to get there. I inhale the remainder of my dinner and encourage the girls to do the same. "Change of plans, girls," I said. I pack everyone into the van, promising hot chocolate if they move quickly.

I get to my PTA meeting and set the girls up in a small side room. Working at the school my daughter attends has it's advantages: I know all the good hiding spots. I turn on Netflix on the iPad, set up two chairs, open the snack container and growl, "Please behave," as I walk down the hall to the meeting.

They behave. For about 25 minutes of the 60 minute meeting. I hastily grab my purse and meeting notes, offering apologies to the parents situated around the long conference table as I exit.

I'm frustrated. My face is hot. I'm disappointed in myself and in the girls. The situation was impossible before I had even left the house, but I had hoped for the best. I drive home wordlessly. The girls are quiet, too. We have an understanding.

Life happens and flexibility is important. But it's so hard.

It doesn't hit me until after the girls are settled in bed that I was once the person responsible for someone else's impossible situation.

I was in high school. A junior, maybe? I had a family whom I babysat for frequently. The mom and dad were going through a divorce, so sometimes I was the only person the newly-single mom could count on to get a few hours to herself. I had empathy for her situation but nowhere near an understanding of how hard parenting can be.

She had called at the last minute to see if I could watch her toddler the next day. I said I could, but didn't pencil it in my calendar right away--I was doing several things at once and simply forgot.

The next day came and I stayed later than usual at my summer job. I took my time coming home. When I finally arrived, my mom gave me the message that Mrs. So & So called. I froze. I was always so responsible. I had been babysitting for many years and for many families. I had NEVER forgotten an appointment.

Did she have to bring her son with her to her appointment? Was she able to find someone else to fill in? Did she feel as frustrated as I had tonight: at myself, my kids, my situation?

I didn't call her back. And she never called me again. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I never saw her or her son again, as I returned to high school a few weeks later and then left for college the following summer.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself tonight, I'm feeling shame and embarrassment of having caused someone else the same frustration.

It's times like this that I'm thankful for God's grace and  forgiveness. I am weak and flawed. I am selfish and willful. I am stubborn and conceited. God knows. But He created me, and He is always working on me. Perhaps tonight's events were to help me understand how I'd hurt Mrs. So & So many years ago. I'd say it's a lesson learned. Better late than never.

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