Maybe I should call this post “The Price of Imperfection”. Because I made a major screw-up tonight. My daughter attends church classes every Monday. They recently started back up after summer break, and this is still a new schedule to us. On top of the classes, there are all these additional commitments this year: different obligations and events and what-not, all involving church, and all fighting for space on my calendar. Anyhow, like a moron, I misread the time for when my daughter’s class ends, and we ended up not getting there on time to pick her up. She had to call me, and, as soon as I heard her little voice on the other end of the phone, I had this sinking feeling that I had (of course) screwed up in a monumental way.
I’m trying to rationalize this by reminding myself that she wasn’t in an unsafe place. She was with her teacher, who knows her from when my daughter and I both went through RCIA several years ago. I knew someone would wait with her. I knew I was only ten minutes away. I knew she was safe, and that she wouldn’t be alone. Also, she’s thirteen, which is still (at least to me) a “child”, but there’s a huge difference between thirteen and six or seven. Yes, it’s not ideal that I wasn’t there when I was supposed to be. And, yes, this is totally my fault. I feel horrible about it. I apologized to the teacher. I apologized to my daughter. It was a stupid mistake, and there’s no excuse for it. Thankfully, I think my daughter is okay with it. It seems she has forgiven me — at least until her mid-thirties, when I’m sure the whole, sordid incident will come out during therapy.
The thing is, my husband is mad at me. He is giving me the angry, silent treatment, except to remind me (often) that I already knew the times didn’t seem right, so I should have double-checked. But when I apologize, I am met with stony silence and a bit of a glare. I get it. He expects me to be perfect. And I’m not perfect. He knows this, of course. I mean, none of us is perfect. But, when I make a monumental screw-up and remind him of my imperfection in such a blatant way, I think he just needs time to process the whole thing. He needs time to figure out that he can still love me, even if I am a stupid woman who read a time wrong and failed to pick up his child after church class.
The rational part of me knows all of this. The rational part of me knows that things will be fine if I just let him be for a while. I doubt he will ever say that he forgives me, so I will never actually know whether or not he forgave me. My husband has many wonderful and amazing qualities. He is the person I love most in the whole world, and he is my perfect match in every way. He is loving and generous and kind and full of fun. But … he does not hand out forgiveness lightly. Or at all. I will know that he forgives me because things will go back to normal. He will hug me and hold me close. We will laugh and make funny jokes again. But I won’t ever hear those words, “I forgive you.”
There is a part of me that’s still very much a little child. A little child filled with all the emotions and fears and things that I had to keep carefully hidden during my growing-up years. And that little child who lives in the deepest, darkest part of my heart needs to hear the words. She needs it. She needs to know that she is still worth loving, even when she makes a mistake. She needs to know that she is worth loving even when she isn’t perfect. She needs to know that she doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’s an impossible, pressure-cooker of a task. She needs to know forgiveness happens if you admit your mistake and say you are sorry. She needs to know that trying is enough.
I often wish I could go back in time. If I could do that, I would look closer at the time listed on the church website. Maybe I would call and double-check, especially knowing what I know now. I would try harder to do all the right things at the right time. I would say the things I’m supposed to say, and I would be all the places exactly when I’m supposed to. I would FIX this mistake I made tonight. I so very much want to fix the mistake I made tonight.
But I can’t. I can’t go back in time. Even if I could do that, I would probably make the same mistake all over again. I can’t do anything but say I’m sorry and mean it and try to learn from my mistake. Just … sometimes, that doesn’t feel like enough.