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When mommas fail, but schools don’t

April 12, 2016

Last week, we had a really rough morning.  It was not my finest moment as a momma.  My youngest whose normal routine for getting ready for school can best be described in one word – poky – was trying to rush us all out the door.  Even when the stakes are high, she is never in a hurry to get all she needs to have accomplished before it is time to leave.  This particular morning was different, she and her best friend wanted to arrive at school early because they wanted to be ready for the state tests.  (Honestly, in all my years as a teacher, I have never heard of anyone who was excited to take the state standardized tests. Hats off to their Language Arts teacher!)

Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and enthusiastic test takers often go awry. Our entire house overslept.  I’m not sure how four people could sleep through four different alarms, but it happened.  Needless to say, we did not start out on a great note.  By the time, we finally loaded into the truck, I was leaving without packing a lunch and felt under-prepared for a day of inspiring young college students.  I realized I had forgotten something critically important and went back to get it.  In an effort to be helpful, Sally grabbed my bag off the driver’s seat and placed it in her lap, not realizing that she knocked over the glass of sweet tea I had precariously sat inside the bag. When I returned, every item I had in the bag was covered in two inches of liquid.

Because I had electronics in the bag, I couldn’t just leave the mess for later.  I stormed into the house, dumped the whole bag into the empty sink and tried to salvage as much as I could.  By the time we left, I had one girl in tears and another on the verge because her friend was hurting, and I was trying my very best to give them both a pep talk about how they were going to rock this test.  No one in that vehicle believed the speech – including me.  As we stopped in the carpool lane, I tried one last ditch effort to no avail, and watched in the rear view mirror as my littlest sobbed walking up the sidewalk to the school.

After quick trip home to recover what could be saved,  I made a tough decision.  Even if I was late to work that day, I was going to the school to hug my girl and to tell her I loved her.

marshall middle school

Upon my arrival in the office, the administrative support person was delivering the daily announcements.  I listened intently.  The last announcement left me with more tears than I already had experienced that morning.  My sweet carpool girls had already told me about the significance of the day, but in our haste to get out the door, I didn’t ask too many questions.

The final announcement explained that a sweet young boy,  a former student who passed away from a mitochondrial disorder the year before, would have been 13 years old that day.  Students were asked to wear green (in support of those affected by mitochondrial disorders) and for a one dollar donation to the UMDF foundation  students could wear hats in school for the day.  This was all fine and dandy but it was what happened at the end of the news that made me incredibly thankful for the Pledge of Allegiance to regain my composure.

At the conclusion, the sweet lady announced that after a small countdown, they (the entire school) would be collectively wishing Alex a very “Happy Birthday!”

3 – 2 – 1 – “Happy Birthday Alex!” was loudly and cheerfully echoed from every hall and every corridor.  As the momma of a child who died at a similar age as Alex, my heart was breaking for his parents.  I was also so sad that they probably didn’t get to hear this amazing support for their son.  I was never so incredibly proud of a school that did not fail the memory of this young man, especially since due to his condition many of those well wishing voices perhaps never had the pleasure of interacting with him. 

Looking back now, alarms not alerting and spilled tea might have been a bigger part of God’s plan for me to realize a few ruined papers and one crazy morning are not the ruin of a day. He gently set me straight with an amazing reminder for us to celebrate – not just after loss – but in the small magical moments of the ordinary, because it is in the little stuff that the BIG stuff really matters.

And rest assured. When my little girl came down to the office, I hugged her even closer while thanking God I got the joy of sharing in Alex’s big moment with her. 

To learn more about mitochondrial disease and to support families like Alex’s, please visit:

Special note:  It has been a while since I have given this reminder, but make sure to hug your children today.


  1. Annetta Ewald permalink

    Tears!!! So happy your little angel comes to our school ! How blessed am I to see her in the hall everyday? Very blessed!!!

  2. Oh Annetta – you are one of the highlights of her day! You and all the amazing souls at the MMS are some of the best blessings in our lives!

  3. Theresa Lightfoot permalink

    What a great reminder that there are bigger hurdles to life!

  4. Rita Klukas permalink

    Came across this on my news feed this morning! Just what I needed. Little things in life become the big things. God introduced us for a reason. Thank you.

    • Oh Rita! I am so thankful for our introduction. God has an amazing way of orchestrating things in my life – including being seated at a table with you this weekend!

  5. What a great testimony of turning what could’ve been an awful morning, into something special. It must’ve meant a lot to your daughter that you cared enough to take the time to come and see her and hug her! That is a big deal to a young one. 😊

    • I feel pretty amazing to have her as a daughter. It was a precious moment when she realized it was for me that she was brought to the office. I think our moment helped reframe her day! 🙂

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