I Love You More than your Mistakes

I love you more than your mistakes.

A good friend tells her daughter this on a regular basis. It is a statement that I have taken to heart and have often repeated to my girls (and to myself as I survey the ruins of a precious tea cup, a newly-installed deck ‘decorated’ in non-washable paint, a jam-smeared couch…).

 I remember the first time I talked to my oldest daughter about loving her more than her mistakes. She had broken a ceramic figurine that my mother had made when I was a newborn. I found the remains hidden in my sock drawer. I found her hiding under her bed. 

Now, I am not a yeller, never have been. My voice just doesn’t get the loud. I’ve tried, but I come out sounding like a cross between a squeaking mouse and a wailing banshee. Not pretty.

So on this occasion, I sat on her bed and quietly talked about my disappointment. Not that she had broken the figurine, because I come from a long line of dish- and glass-breakers (thanks, Mom!). But that she hid both the evidence and herself from me. I explained that as long as she always told me the truth, I would always listen. Her actions might disappoint me or make me unhappy, angry even, but I would always love her and listen to her. Because I loved her more than her mistakes.

She looked at me with those big hazel eyes and asked, “Even if I called you a stupid stinky f%&k?”

Yes, even then.

Since then, I have had many times to put my money where my mouth is, and love her more than her mistakes in the hopes that she would keep coming to me and talking to me.

It has started to pay off. She is in first grade now and coming home with new questions. Questions like:

Why is she mean to me? She played with me yesterday.

Why would she tell my friends I did that when I didn’t?

I saw her do it. Why did she lie to the teacher?

 I don’t always say the right thing, but I treasure the privilege of being the person she comes to looking for the answers.

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