How My Disappointments Have Made Me a Better Mama

Who in the world messes up Jello Instant Pudding? It is three basic steps: dump mix & milk, cook & stir, dump in bowl & refrigerate. Pretty simple, huh?

Apparently not for me.

This weekend I was trying to be an overachieving Mama and cook with my kids. (I realize how pitiful it is that my definition of “overachieving” is cooking Instant Pudding ;) Ella was carefully stirring the pudding continually as it cooked. Ethan was thoroughly enjoying his job crushing the Oreos to go on top, so they could be “Dirt Cups.” 1, 2, 3 steps done with smiles.

A few hours later we pulled our pudding out to find that it was just as liquidy as when we put it in the refrigerator. “It’s ok! Let’s let it stay in over night!” The next morning was no better. My kids watched as my face fell when a full 24 hours later… it still looked like chocolate milk. No dirt cups AGAIN!

“I am sure it is because you used 1% milk,” my husband, Eric, consoled me. “Oh sweetheart, I am sure that your mix was just out of date,” my Mama soothed me.

I had 2 options. I could be humiliated, hang my head and cry. I could tear my apron off and swear to never try to cook again. OrCheers to the Dirt Cups! I could laugh. Full on belly laugh until there are tears coming down my face. “Well Nana will never let me cook Thanksgiving dinner now!!” I said between giggles. And the kids laughed hysterically too. Then we went to the store and bought pudding cups for a couple of bucks. We still had our dirt cups. We sprinkled our crushed Oreos because Ethan can smash Oreos like a BOSS.

My lesson didn’t bring about culinary genius as I hoped, but I reminded my kids to not take themself so seriously. At such a young age, so much is expected…demanded of them. They have to learn that sometimes things won’t go as you plan and how to react to that. Do you beat yourself up for screwing up? Or do you laugh, move on, and just go buy the dang pudding cups?

God gave me another opportunity to show how to deal with disappointment yesterday. Thank you, Lord. 😉

Getting a literary agent has been at the top of my to-do list since I got back from the She Speaks conference. Between getting the kids settled in school, my PTO obligations, and just life in general, I hadn’t been able to send out my letters until yesterday morning. I nearly hyperventilated before I hit “Send” with each email, but I got it done.

As soon as I sent the last one, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. Like all phases in the publishing industry, it would be a while until I heard back from anyone. “Whew. Off my plate and I don’t have to worry about it for a while!”

So imagine my surprise when I heard from two of the agents within hours. They were both incredibly nice and encouraging about my book. But the bottom line is the answer was NO. It was kind of like an “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of a rejection. However, rejection still stings. I tried to laugh it off and focus on the positive things they said. And hey, at least I won’t wait forever and get rejected! There are lots of fish in the sea…

Later that afternoon I was waiting for my kids to get out of the car – and let’s be honest, it takes them like an hour to get out of the car….gathering backpacks, lunchboxes, water bottles, random papers, a shoe that came off. I have aged another year by the time they all get out of the car. As I wait, I glance down at my phone and see I got another email from an agent. Another rejection. I didn’t even understand what this one said??!! All I heard was NO for the 3rd time in one day, and I wasn’t even mentally ready to hear back from one!

So I did the exact opposite of the day before. I cried. I tried to play it off as “allergies” at first when Ella asked if I was crying. Pretty soon, it was evident that excuse wasn’t gonna cut it. After all the backpacks were put away, I took a deep breath and talked to my kids. “Kids, Mama is a little sad right now. I need your help. I really need you to be good listeners and obey me this afternoon. I would appreciate a little more patience and grace because Mama’s nerves are a little on edge.” They nodded their heads and got straight to their homework without complaint. They were perfect angels for me all afternoon. It was a gift to my raw emotional state.

Ella's Treasures

Before dinner I got a big bear hug from Ella. She is not my overly affectionate one, so it meant even more to me. In her little hand, she held some of her prized possessions she selected from her jewelry box. “This is to cheer you up, Mama!”

For the 2nd time in 24 hours, God gave me had an opportunity to demonstrate how to handle disappointment to my children. He spoke very clearly to them through my situation:

  • Everyone experiences disappointment sometimes. Even Mamas.
  • It is okay to cry when you are sad. Sometimes you just have to let those feelings out and allow your tears to cleanse your soul.
  • Even though it is hard, you need to talk to people about why you are sad. Communication can help others understand how you are feeling and what you need from them.
  • You can show God’s love and be a great comfort to people who are sad.

As I lay in bed with Ella last night, I thanked her for being Jesus to me and giving me the love that I needed to find my smile. I also told her that I was not discouraged or giving up because I knew I was following God’s path for me. Just like when God helped me find her Daddy after dating some of the wrong fish, He has the right agent for me out in that big ole sea. He just got me three steps closer to finding them.