I ordered her the wrong maroon basketball shoes.

I ordered a men’s size 10…apparently I was supposed to order a men’s size 8.

It was the whole “men’s” thing that threw me off…since, you know, she is a girl. The shoes cost $85 dollars, and the company does not take returns because the shoes are, you know, maroon.

I crumble. In front of her I crumble, big and ugly. We are now out $85×2. We are not sure if her shoes will arrive for her first game and it is all on me. She has waited years for her father and I to say yes to this team, and I screwed it up. I became ridiculous, over the top mortified that I had messed up. I decide the only way to overcome this humiliation was to squirm my way out ugly and nasty. I blame him for not ordering the maroon monsters before the business trip like he said he would. They both stare at me, two pairs of the same brown eyes staring at my green…

She didn’t make the track team. She came up short, she blames her lack of practice. She is over the top mortified. She cannot comprehend the humiliation and embarrassment. She is grouchy, she snaps at brother and ignores my questions. I can’t understand why she is acting like this. “Calm down!” I hiss. We walk in the house and I see the maroon mistake still on the table. His brown eyes find my green. He closes his mouth and lowers his head. He is too good to say what he is thinking.

I am knocked down into a chair. I am bewildered and confused at my power. This is not the power that I want. Why can’t she just emulate the stuff I get right? Geez…Why does my negative behavior have more of an impact then my positive behavior?

Maroon shoes stare at me. I think they are smirking. I call to her, this intense daughter. I pull her to me and with hot embarrassment streaming down my face I whisper my apology. I own this. Her reaction is a reflection of how she sees me deal with mistakes. I wipe the slate clean with hot salty water. “You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to fail. You are allowed grace and you must give this grace to yourself.”

She looks at me and I see those brown eyes, outlined in red. “Grace is hard.” She silently cries out the embarrassment, after an eternity, there is room in her heart for mom words.

“Yes, grace is hard. It is like the small muscles we never use, because the big ones compensate. Those muscles are weak and there is pain when we first start to use them. But we must use them, focus on them through the pain. They will grow strong and eventually constant pain, will give way to a dull soreness that works its way out rather quickly. We balance easier when all muscles are strong. We, as females, must make grace a focus. We must pass it on to other females who force themselves into perfection. Females who bind themselves with fear of failure. We must welcome them with open arms. It starts with me and I have failed to realize that.” I hold her close. I whisper to her…or maybe the whisper is meant for me- “I have to teach you to love yourself through your mistakes. They do not define you, they do not make you less, they, in fact, make you more. This is a gift that only we can give ourselves.”

But words must be followed with action. Mistakes are a part of life and our girls must understand this to grow into balanced adults.

Tonight, I burnt dinner. I felt the familiar pain of small, weak muscles. I felt the weight of brown eyes. I force smile grace. “Pizza it is.” She smiles grace- “I like pizza better, anyway.”