My first mistake of the day

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"My first mistake of the day" by Ellen Mongan (CatholicMom.com)

Photo by Serious Eats (2014) via Flickr, all rights reserved.

Embarrassing moments seem to be a part of my daily life. Maybe it is because I am a wordy woman which gives me ample opportunity to put my foot in my mouth. Or, maybe it’s because I rarely remember to look before I leap. I leap anyway, often falling face first on the pavement. I often fall off the pedestal that I have placed myself upon in my imagination. This is why I am always impressed with the people who can put their best foot forward. I often trip over my feet, so I know I am not in that category. I try to be as graceful as a prima ballerina landing a pirouette; however, my feet do not cooperate.

Learning to laugh at myself has become essential. If embarrassing moments don’t follow you, having children will change that. I find that children have the ability to embarrass you without even trying. At a young age they have no filter and sport a tell-all mentality. Their cuteness mixed with innocence somehow turns an embarrassed mom’s frown into a belly laugh. It comes as no surprise that prudence is not inborn. A wise mother teaches character while encouraging her children to mature. Eventually children acquire virtue while moms grow in humility. I think that, at times, children are as embarrassed by their parents as their parents are by them. Do you dare ask them?

In my six decades of life, I was given plenty of material on how to dance through embarrassing moments. Recently, I fell out of the chair at the hairdresser. I had brilliantly wrapped my feet around the bar to protect my freshly broken toe from being stepped on. As I got up to leave, only one foot touched the ground as the other remained caught by the bar. The result was a painful landing on the cement floor. I pasted a pretend smile on my face as the entire hairdresser crew gathered around to help me up. It was a painful mistake of “leaping before I looked.”

Not to worry, I have had more embarrassing moments. There was the time I was trying on a really cute skirt at a boutique and got my undergarments caught in the zipper. There was the time I got in the wrong car and sat down in the passenger’s seat, only to realize that the man in the driver’s seat was not my daughter. There was the time I filled out a job application with the wrong name. It was not until the interviewer asked, “Is your last name really Money?” that I became aware of my mistake. It worked in my favor, as he became aware of how badly I needed employment.

The most recent embarrassing moment took place on Mother’s Day. A day at the lake in a rented pontoon boat is just what this mother ordered to celebrate her special day. It was family bonding at its best. Aboard our ship were three adult children, two sons-in-law, six grandchildren, and a baby in the womb of our baby girl. It was the perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, and hardly anyone in sight. Peace reigned in our hearts, and on the water too.

We set the eating order for the day with an “every man for himself” policy, providing the three moms on board an opportunity for some well-deserved R and R. We were anchored in a quiet spot as most of the family was in the cool lake. I, on the other hand, was enjoying the moment, sitting back in my husband’s arms and slowly sipping my chilled glass of wine. If the truth be known, I was daydreaming about living on a deserted island somewhere, just the two of us.

The peaceful silence was broken when one of the grandchildren, fresh out of the water, asked me if she could get something out of the cooler. I moved my broken toe ever so carefully off the cooler which had been my foot rest. Emily opened the cooler, got the necessary ingredients to make her sandwich, then asked someone to pass her two pieces of bread. Swimming had given her quite the appetite. She had set a goal of making the perfect sandwich as she meticulously spread the mustard from corner to corner. I was about to break into song, “Are you hungry?” when disaster struck.

Obliviously, I placed my foot back where it had been resting without looking first. It landed right smack in the middle of Emily’s perfect sandwich on the freshly mustarded bread. It was a sight to behold. I was about to sing, “Oops, I did it again,” but the look on Emily’s face silenced my tune. I immediately apologized and the “Son” shone again in our relationship. It was my first mistake of the day.

"My first mistake of the day" by Ellen Mongan (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2018 Ellen Mongan. All rights reserved.

In every life a little embarrassment will fall. These moments pull us off our high horse to the humble ground like St. Paul. Do not be surprised or dismayed. The ability to crawl out of the pit of humiliations comes with practice.

Practice makes perfect. It is not the number of times you fall, but rather the style used in getting up again. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Some people have a way of covering them up while other mistakes stick out like a foot in a mustard sandwich. If it is your first mistake of the day, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. Never let embarrassment steal the ability to begin again. Just, practice guarding your tongue or have the words “I am sorry” ever ready on your lips. Always say those three words with sincerity!

Every day can be a challenging catastrophe or an amazing adventure to help us grow as a person. Try to live your life fully alive with eyes opened wide, look before you leap, and learn to laugh at yourself.  Choose to grow from your mistakes. Maturity comes at a cost: the willingness to grow in character.

Somehow those who have journeyed the path of embarrassing moments begin to grow a heart of understanding right where judgment used to reside. After you have learned to laugh at yourself and not to sweat the small stuff, you are able to give others permission to do the same.

If you are a wordy woman like me, who has journeyed along the path of embarrassing moments, you also avoid saying to others, “I told you so!” You barely notice when others put their foot in their mouth. You practice being blind to other’s defects! If others fall into a pit or off their high horse, you quickly reach out a helping hand to help them.  Life has taught you that it is probably only their first mistake of the day!


Copyright Ellen Mongan 2018

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About Author

Ellen Mongan is a Catholic writer and speaker who has been married 44 years to Deacon Pat Mongan. They have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. Ellen is a Hosts of WOW Radio Podcasts. She is a religious columnist for the Augusta Chronicle, and has spoken on both radio and television. She is the founder of Sisters in Christ, Little Pink Dress Ministry and Women-Fests. She would love to speak at your conference, she goes wherever God leads her.

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