A few years ago I was tucking our two girls (long before our son came along) into bed and I noticed that the curtains were not hung on the window. I asked, “Where are the curtains?” Neither girl answered me. My voice developed an edge. “Where are the curtains? Why aren’t they on the window?”

“They’re under my bed,” my then five-year-old said.

 I looked under her bed and there were the cute, pink curtains crumpled into a wad. “Why are they wadded up into a ball under your bed?”  No answer. As I pulled them out and tried to straighten them I said, again with an edge, “Why did you do this?”  I tried to hang them back up but the rod was warped and my frustration boiled over.

My husband came home a few minutes later and the girls were still awake. “I’ve never heard mom yell before,” our seven-year-old said. “She was so mad.” My husband couldn’t get the curtains up that night either but in the next couple of days they went up, good as new. Since that time the curtain story has elevated to smoke coming from my nostrils and my head splitting in two as fire erupted from it.

 Last week, six years after the curtain incident, my now 11-year-old started a new school year.  She brought home her backpack and unloaded it onto the island along with the contents of her lunch box. The island was already littered with mail and I had dinner in full swing so it looked as it does everyday, as if an explosion happened right there in the center of our kitchen. As I sorted through the mail, she sorted through her papers and left a stack for me on the island. I noticed an “About Me” paper, on which she had to answer several questions.  When I got to the “My Hero” question my eyes filled with tears.  “My mom inspires me with words. Someday I wish to have that kind of wisdom.” 


There are many days that I go to bed thinking that I blew it:  I wasn’t patient enough, gracious enough, merciful enough, pleasant enough, or just enough for what my kids needed that day. Yet somehow, where I see imperfection she sees wisdom. She sees inspiration.  She saw my tears and said, “It’s true, Mom! You’re the nicest woman I know and you make great pancakes!” (Yes, we’d had pancakes that morning).

 You won’t see a Hollywood blockbuster about a pancake hero or read a novel on the New York Times bestsellers list about a woman who sounds like a crazy person asking her kids to feed the dogs for crying out loud and to find their other shoe ("why aren't your shoes together?") before driving them to baseball or softball practice.  You won’t see stories on the evening news about a woman who lost her temper over crumpled curtains but then sat on the side of her children’s beds and apologized. You won’t see medals hung around their necks at any public ceremony. 

Those heroes are relegated for home.

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