When Good Intentions Go Up In Flames

When Good Intentions Go Up In Flames“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

And good intentions I had. The day was perfectly planned – my husband and I were going to pick up a UHaul, bring it to my daughter’s apartment, where she had reserved the loading dock, help her finish packing, move everything out, and then get her set up in her new place closer to her law school campus.

While that was the plan, there was also a little prep work at home. My husband and I – who love each other dearly and can’t imagine life without each other – are not the best collaborators. The easiest way to explain it is, that the last time we were in a canoe together, we ended up going in circles because neither one was willing to give up the lead paddle. While we have never canoed again, we did make a deal to work together on this move, and off we went.

We hit a few snags along the way (daughter locked herself out of her apartment, loading dock was full, I did have to bite my tongue a few times – a deal’s a deal – and our dolly had a gimpy wheel) but after a few sweaty hours, and the help of her boyfriend, we had a full car and truck. I was in charge of the fragile stuff, like glassware, which I very carefully wrapped, placed in a bin, brought into her new apartment, and set in her kitchen area, away from harm. I had also prepared the cutest housewarming basket, with cleaning supplies, favorite snacks, a mini chicken pot pie, and some bubbly (my neighbor can confirm how adorable it was.)

I was really happy with how the day went – how our group worked well together, how we rolled with the punches, and how I only fussed at my husband when we were alone.  Eventually, the UHaul was due back, so while my husband and I returned it, our daughter went back to her old place to give back her temporary key.

When we returned, she approached our car with a smile and a, “guess what happened?”  Something to understand about my daughter is that nothing fazes her. Not a crime being committed outside her window, not being mansplained in the gym by someone twice her size, and not even, apparently, a fire in her brand new apartment.

Because what she came home to was a bin of very carefully wrapped glassware cooking on the stove. Smoke filled the room, it smelled like burnt trees, and the counter and sink looked like a crime scene. Apparently, in all of my “helpfulness,” I had somehow managed to bump a knob and almost incinerate the entire building.

Colorful fire flame graphic element set

I was beyond mortified. What kind of mother burns down her own child’s house?! (I had a flash-back to when I accidentally set off the fire alarm at her elementary school. Another nightmare.)

In my head, all the good things I had done that day were suddenly erased. I had ruined everything.

Isn’t that the way with moms sometimes? We’re feeling pretty good about this parenting thing until we have a rough day and lose our patience, or miss a game, or are late to pick up, and then we become our own worst critics. Granted, this was arson, which is admittedly a much bigger deal, but in the end, my daughter was only out of a bin and a couple of glasses, and still had a place to live.

The moral of the story – we can make mistakes and still be great mothers. Good intentions can outshine bad outcomes.

The trick is being vulnerable enough to admit the mea culpa and letting our kids see our human side. And Venmo’ing them a little extra when you get the bill.