Caught on Tape: My Bad Mom Moment Revealed

Caught on Tape: My Bad Mom Moment Revealed

Guilt. Shame.

Sadness washes over me as the home video abruptly switches from my cute little girls to me with my game face on, all dolled up in a white denim jacket.

It was 9 years ago in 2007, when video cameras still recorded on tiny tapes. Apparently, I intended to record over this audition, but a remnant remained.

I watch myself deliver carefully rehearsed lines. Eyes directly into the camera, voice projected, body poised. I was auditioning for a non-profit organization that sends motivational speakers to high schools around the country. And the deadline for audition tapes was that day.

Right in the middle of a line, adorable 3-old-year-old Audrey runs to the room, interrupting my soliloquy. The video shows me stop and glare at her, an angry mom look casting dark shadows everywhere.

“Anna’s getting fussy, mom,” her sweet voice rings out.

“What are you doing out here?” I yell at her. “I told you stay in the room. Get back in there and watch your sister. NOW!”

In the space of 5 seconds I watch myself turn from an enthusiastic, classy woman into an ugly witch yelling at her 3-year-old to go back and take care of the baby crying in the exersaucer.

Of course, that wasn’t the first time I yelled, threw a fit, or relied on my toddler to keep an eye on the baby. But it was the first (and last) time I saw myself do it outside the walls of my own head. I wanted to erase the evidence. Pretend it never happened. But for some reason, I didn’t. That clip still exists somewhere in the vast storage device where our electronic family memories reside. I know I’ll stumble upon it one day. Or perhaps one of my girls will find it. What will I say? How will I explain…

I could brush it off.

“Oh, gosh. That must have been a really bad day. Let’s delete that one!”

I could defend myself.

You know…I had recently stopped working to be home full-time. I didn’t know it then, but I likely had postpartum depression, too. We sold our car to make the budget work, and Justin only carpooled a few days per week. Many times, I had no vehicle to leave the house. Money was so tight. I was isolated and desperately trying to find an outlet to make cash and feel like myself again. The deadline for the audition tape was that day, remember? And I DID get the job…

I could give insight.

It was hard for me to be a mom of little ones. I’m highly driven, ultra sensitive, and I need lots of down time to feel my best. I was in over my head, and I had not yet learned the importance of asking for help. It’s not that I didn’t love my babies. Oh, how I have loved them every moment since I learned of their life within me! It was a rough season that I did my best to hide. As a result, the ugly parts spewed out all over the ones I loved the most.

I could be honest.

I’m a messy miracle, darling. I don’t know why I do the things that I do. I make mistakes. I act out of fear. I screw up…badly.  But those mess-ups have taught me so much about love and forgiveness and grace. I never would have known how much I value those gifts, how much freedom they give, if I hadn’t needed them desperately. And I do need them desperately.

What if we’re all simply doing the best we can?

I know you can relate to my story. There are things you’ve done that you wish you could take back. Maybe they weren’t played on a computer in front of you, but perhaps they keep playing on the screen of your mind. Your first instinct is probably to defend yourself and place the blame elsewhere. Or do you dismiss and avoid?

What about when other people mess up? Do you revel in it? Does it secretly make you feel better to know you’re not alone? Is your first instinct to judge and assume?

It’s a crazy world we live in, and we’re all part of the crazy. It’s not the way it was designed to be, but it’s the way it is. Until Jesus takes us home or returns, you and I will continue to be part of the mess. But we’re also part of the miracle.

What if the next time you mess up, you choose to confess and ask forgiveness?

What if the next time your unmet expectations cause you frustration, you talk about it openly and honestly, without blame?

What if the next time a friend tells you she doesn’t want to get out of bed, you don’t try to fix her. You simply say, “I understand. What can I do?”

What if the next time you see a mom frustrated with her child, you offer an encouraging word instead of judging and walking by.

Because you understand, after all.

You’re the mess. And you’re the miracle. God works through you in both ways. So let him. Be you and offer grace to others to be themselves, too.

Be Still,

Laura

XOXOXO

Other posts from the Messy Miracle Series:

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Blackout: Chasing Contentment

Blackout: Chasing Contentment

blackout

On the back of my senior t-shirt, I added these words in white vinyl letters.

Harmful or Harmless?
What do YOU think?

My maiden name is Harm, thus the creative play on words. But a darker meaning also lurked there.

I swallowed my first taste of alcohol at age 16 sitting on a car in the high school parking lot. The next morning, I sat in the choir loft for church. I was a notorious good girl who thought way too much about doing, saying, feeling the right thing, so I quickly learned that alcohol was an “easy” way to release the nagging voice in my head. Under the influence of elixir, layers of weight shed from my skin. Words flowed freely. Spontaneity was achievable. My reserved nature fell away and an alter-ego took her place with sweet release.

For the first decade of my drinking years, there was no such thing as simply enjoying a glass of wine or a can of beer.

I drank to become someone else.

“You know, alcohol is more dangerous for you than for others,” my father said one night, a reminder of our shared family history.

The angel on my right and the demon on my left. A conflict of character. A battle of identify. I was both of them, but thankfully they weren’t all of me.

Can you relate, Messy Miracle? Do you sometimes wish you could change the things you dislike about yourself? Do you wish there was a pill to erase the fear? Do you long for a magic mirror in which to see the future yet to come?

We all do. It’s universal, this desire to control. And sometimes it actually works…for a little while.

The dark side.

I’ve experienced two drinking-induced blackouts. Entire evenings missing from the cavern of my mind. On my 19th birthday, the last memory I have is throwing back shots at a bar during a fraternity social. I woke in my sorority bedroom soaked in layers of vomit with no recollection of laying face down, comatose on a parking lot the night before. Nor do I remember the (thankfully kind) designated driver who carried me home. He left a note. His name was Troy.

In my twenties, I attended the marriage of friends and drank the glasses of wine that continuously appeared before me. I vaguely recall dinner, then dancing and then nothing. Except the echoes of embarrassing stories the next day.

Blackout. No memory. No picture in my head.

Life moved ever forward with career, marriage, and kids. The escape of drink turned to shopping, moving up the corporate ladder, decorating a home, and dozens of smaller distractions to numb the ever-blooming chase for contentment.

Who am I? Why am I here? I had everything I ever wanted, but nothing was enough.

First the heartache. Then the healing.

I intended this essay to be about drinking, but I realize now that it’s actually about so much more. Drinking is just one of many ways I’ve sought to avoid the pain of this chaotic world. And what I’m learning is that You. Can’t. Avoid. The. Pain.  

At least not forever. Any attempt to stuff it or hide it or ignore it, just makes it intensify when it can no longer be contained. And trust me. At some point, it will no longer be contained.  

So, what’s a lady to do? I wish there was an easy fix, dear one. The truth is that the only way out is through. You have to open the door on the pain to set it free. You have to find trustworthy people to help you. And you have to surrender it all to Jesus.

I know you’re chasing contentment. You are wrestling with warring sides of yourself.  So am I…still. We’ll never find the answer in the bottom of a bottle. It’s nowhere in the latest trendy clothes, lower numbers on the scale or newest wrinkle cream. It’s not in your boyfriend or your spouse or even your children. All of that will fail you. You will fail you. But it’s ok. We were never meant to heal ourselves. But we ARE made to be healed.

Can you believe, just for a moment, that you were made to live free? Live free from the pain and emptiness? Imagine what that would feel like…to know that you are perfectly loved and accepted exactly the way you are. And what if you didn’t have to do anything for this to be true? What if you only had to let go of the reigns and believe? Would you do it? Could you do it? Stay with me on this quest to Seek The Still and see…

Fear tells me to hold these memories deep in the cavern of my mind. My weirdness, quirks, and imperfections feel safe hidden from stinging curiosity and judging eyes.

But change is stirring. With each word released, with every story shared, my heart and soul are stretched in new ways. Feelings fly free and shame is undone in a mysterious dance that I’m learning to respect – and even enjoy.

These tales are true, and they are mine. Yet they are also strangely yours. In the sharing, our lives intertwine, and we see one another more purely. Perhaps for the very first time.

I'd love to remind you that there is hope and you are never alone.

 
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What I Would Tell Her

What I Would Tell Her

Fear tells me to hold these memories deep in the cavern of my mind. My weirdness, quirks, and imperfections feel safe hidden from stinging curiosity and judging eyes.

But change is stirring. With each word released, with every story shared, my heart and soul are stretched in new ways. Feelings fly free and shame is undone in a mysterious dance that I’m learning to respect – and even enjoy.

These tales are true, and they are mine. Yet they are also strangely yours. In the sharing, our lives intertwine, and we see one another more purely. Perhaps for the very first time.

 

We are messy, you and me. But we are also miracles.

 

I am 11 years old, lounging on a couch in rays of sun. A Harlequin romance book is propped open as my tween eyes soak in words like oil on thirsty skin. The drama, the love, the exotic settings take me far into worlds momentarily more real than my own.

As my eyes flit back and forth, words and story tumble in, and my hand lifts to the coarse, black lashes on my eyelids. As if by magnetic pull, without thought or intent, I separate them and pull with practiced ease.

A release of pressure comes along with the lash now held between my thumb and forefinger. Satisfaction flows when I admire the perfectly round, white ball at the root no longer attached to my skin.

Eyes back on the book, my hand returns to my eyelashes again and again. Until one day I realize there are no more lashes to strum. Nothing more to pull. I look in the mirror and stare aghast at red, swollen eyes. The lashes are gone. I have pulled them out. Every single one.

I don’t remember how quickly my mother notices, but she does, and I manage to convince her that I’m not sick. The lashes didn’t fall out on their own. “I pulled them, Mom.”

I read the skepticism and disbelief in her eyes. “Let me show you.” I say. I reach up and pull out a lash of her own. “See?”

Call it a nervous habit. Call it an early symptom of anxiety. Call it trichotillomania. I never called it anything. I bluffed my way through the conversation, promised I could stop, and never spoke of it again.  

 

Conceal. Don’t feel. Don’t let them know.

 

I want to run to that little girl laying on the couch. I want to tell her that the upcoming move far south will be a good one. I want to tell her that she’ll have her first kiss, her first love, and be brave enough to audition for cheer in front of the entire Junior High. She’ll be voted to the squad.

I want to beg her to enjoy every moment in that small, southern town because she’ll have to move again. This time in the middle of 8th grade.

And I’d tell her that move is not going to be easy. The high school years are hard. Really hard. I might warn her that she’ll make some terrible decisions, but she’ll be okay because the hard things will eventually teach her great truths.

I want to tell that little girl that she is her own harshest critic. That she is loved. That she does not have to achieve or prove her worth to anyone. Gosh, I long to tell her there is so much beauty coexisting alongside her brokenness, but she just can’t see it, at least not yet. She sees only through a small frame like an artist using his hands to capture a particular point of view. But I’d also tell her that there is so much outside that small frame, and every bit of the whole picture is there by design. Then I’d tell her she never has to to figure it all out or hide her messiness. She was made to live free. And her Maker, the Great Designer of that full view, is with her and preparing her to appreciate the miracles she can not yet see.

 

I would take her hands, look into her raw, red eyes, and say…“I love you, Laura.”

 

Be Still,
LF
XOXOXOXO

Fear.

I'd love to remind you that there is hope and you are never alone.

 
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