I wanted to climb into the mailbox where I had just dropped in my manuscript and get it out! But I wouldn’t fit.
My son was in middle school when I decided to write the book, Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids. (The words Middle School should give you a heads up that this is not going to be good.) Steven had always been such an easy child to raise. He was compliant, obedient, pleasant, polite and playful. He’d accepted Christ as Savior, was a good student, and just a joy to be around. Yep. I had done a good job.
So I wrote a book to encourage other moms. The publisher loved it. My editor tweaked it. And I tied it up with a lovely box, placed it in a sturdy priority box, and dropped it into the US Post Office receptacle.
When I came home from the post office, the phone was ringing.
“Hi mom,” Steven said on the other end.
“What are you doing calling me in the middle of the day?” I asked.
“I’m in the Principal’s office. I got caught stealing in the lunchroom.”
My heart sank, my jaw dropped, my mind went blank. All of a sudden I thought about that manuscript I had just dropped into the Post Office outgoing mail receptacle. I had to get it back!!! Who in the world did I think I was writing a book on parenting!
I drove to the school and found some strange boy sitting in the Principal’s office wearing my son’s clothes. I listened as he confessed to stealing snacks in the lunchroom during break. He received one week in-school suspension from principal and house arrest from his dad and me.
I was mad. I was hurt. I was embarrassed. I was fit to be tied.
It seemed I wasn’t such a great mom after all.
But the truth was, it wasn’t about me.
After talking to my editor and explaining the situation, she assured me that I was the same great mom now that I had been the day before Steven did the deed. And Steven was still a great kid. I had my doubts, but I did allow God to teach me many life lessons.
That was 16 years ago, and you know what? Steven did not turn out to be a professional thief or kleptomaniac. He is a adult with great character, daring dreams, and meaningful career.
So what do you do when your kid does something totally off the wall, completely out of character, and shockingly against everything you’ve ever taught him or her? What do you do when you feel like a complete failure as a mom?
- Don’t panic. I know that’s easy to say, but take a deep breath. A temporary lapse of judgment is not a permanent condition.
- Remember that adolescents do strange things. Hormones rage and the need to prove their independence makes them a bit crazy. Early teen years comes with a mixed bag of ugly and wonderful that keep parents guessing and kids not even liking themselves most of the time.
- Deal with the issue at hand, dole out the proper punishment, and then let it go.
- Remember, you are still a great mom, even when your kid makes a bad decision. It’s part of growing up for both of you.
Several years after “the incident,” I asked Steven why in the world he chose to steal snacks from the lunchroom. (Of course I asked him that at the time, but asking an adolescent “why” they misbehave is an exercise in futility. Most of the time they don’t even know.)
He replied, “Looking back on it now, from an adult perspective, I think I was tired of being good. I was always the good kid, and I wanted to prove that I was just as bad as the other cool kids. So even through I had money in my pocket, I wanted to prove that I could be just as tough as they were.”
Hmmm. How did he get so smart? Perhaps it’s because he’s a great kid.
Just for fun: What’s one word of advice you would give to a new mom?
“Hooray for motherhood! Well, that’s how most us would like to feel, but sometimes, as a mom, it’s hard to get up. Sharon calls us to rise up – but we don’t have to do it in our own strength. Being a Great Mom provides practical tips and adds verve back into mothering.”
– Patsy Clairmont, Author and Speaker
“In an age when motherhood is not valued as it should be, those women who do take on this noble role should be called, “Blessed.” Sharon Jaynes has written an encouraging book that provides practical information for all mothers, whether their children are two to 20. Using biblical principles and entertaining anecdotes, Jaynes has created the “how-to-manual” moms didn’t receive at the hospital.”
– Beverly LaHaye, Founder and Chairman of Concerned women for America