When we were in Omaha for Cooper’s oncology check-up a few years ago, we decided to take advantage of the Rainbow House’s free passes to the Henry Doorly Zoo. As we walked up to the zoo gates, we had a powerful revelation. It would be our first family trip STROLLER FREE!
With the wind in our hair and a feeling of liberation, we strutted down those winding cement paths, watching other parents dodge and weave through the crowds with their big, awkward strollers. We were so glad to be done with that phase.
But then our boys got tired. “Can I have a shoulder ride, Mom?”
Sure, why not? Carry around 50 pounds of extra weight? No big deal!
My husband hoisted our oldest son onto his shoulders, and I had our youngest son on mine as we entered the next exhibit.
Being a source of transportation for your child can make you thirsty. So I carefully balanced my son on my shoulders, as I unscrewed the lid of my $3 Cherry Pepsi to take a quick drink.
Enter Murphy’s Law
At that exact moment, our oldest son decided he didn’t want to be on my husband’s shoulders anymore. He swung his leg around to hop down, colliding with my hand and sending my soda spewing through the air in a gravity-defying arch.
With quick reflexes, my husband bobbled for the bottle like a football player trying to catch a Hail Mary pass. This sent the bottle spinning in a loop-de-loop pattern, spraying Pepsi everywhere as it went.
But here’s the worst part—oh, this is bad. Just then, some poor, unsuspecting mom was walking toward us. Like a slow-motion replay, I watched as every twist of the Pepsi bottle pummeled her coral-colored blouse with sticky, brown liquid.
Then, with one final spin, Pepsi splashed right into her mouth—HER MOUTH!
One Mom Embarrassed … Two Moms Sputtering
It was disgusting. I was mortified, and all I could say was, “I’m so sorry! I’m not sick! I’m so sorry!” as she attempted to spit my Pepsi out of her mouth.
I’m not sick…nice one, Jenni. But I didn’t know what else to say as my Pepsi dripped from her face.
I continued to apologize profusely, then lamely offered her a moist towelette With a dazed look, she said they had wipes. Then we parted ways with my embarrassment and apologies still hanging in the air.
But it wasn’t over. For the rest of our visit, I agonized over the stress I must have caused her.
I blamed myself. How could I let this happen? Why didn’t I do better?
Little Missteps … Big Lessons In Forgiving Yourself
Years have passed since the dreaded Pepsi incident. When I look back at it now, I wonder why I was so hard on myself. It’s easy to laugh at how ridiculous it all was, and I pray the mom-in-the-coral-shirt can laugh, too.
But there are some parallels to everyday life. Lately, I’ve found myself reflecting on moments from our past … particularly my son’s cancer treatment.
When Cooper was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, it was like my world changed colors. Everything looked different. Nothing felt safe. There were so many days when the stress got to me. I lashed out or freaked out, trying to control things I couldn’t in this terrifying world.
Thinking back on that time used to make me feel embarrassed. All my failures would rush to the front, and my face would blush.
Knowing You’re Allowed To Be Human
But with each passing year, I’ve noticed that it’s easier and easier to let go of my failings. I’m starting to understand how much pressure I was under. How much terror I was dealing with as my child fought for his life. It helps me to forgive myself.
Four years later, I’m still a busy mom. But with Cooper in remission, I have more moments to pause and think … and consider how far we all have come. And to be grateful for how much stronger and wiser my family is.
January is a good time for reflection. It’s a good chance to see those old situations in a new light as we learn to forgive. After all, in this crazy, messed-up world, we’re all doing the best we can.
It’s time to show ourselves a little mercy.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.