There is this mom I know who I consider to be one of the best. Her oldest son is in his 20s now, but growing up, this mom was very involved in his life and school. She volunteered on a regular basis in his classrooms, took him to church every Sunday and monitored his friends and sporting activities.
She was involved. She was present and she raised a good son who turned into a good man who will soon be going off to war where he will defend our country.
And yet, he isn't perfect.
As he grew older, past the age where kids allow their parents to control every aspect of their lives, he starting making choices and decisions in his life that his mother didn't know about. And then he made mistakes and was caught making those mistakes.
This good mother, who did everything right, was forced to sit back and watch as her baby boy spent days in jail, paying for his mistakes and bad choices.
Because no matter how much we want to control our kids and their lives, they will all eventually grow up, trying to find their own identities and their own path.
And as parents, we will all have to step back and watch our children lead those lives. We will have to watch as they suffer the consequences of their own bad decisions and we will have to hope that they learn from their mistakes.
Just like we all did.
I have two young children and a teenager in my home. For my younger sons, it's still easy for me to try and teach those important life lessons and show them there are consequences to their bad decisions. It's easy now, because for the most part, the consequences my young children face are still minimal.
Just this past week my boys came running to me, tears streaming down their faces, as they explained how my older son had thrown one of their favorite toys in the tree where it got stuck.
"Well," I said to them, unmoved by their miserable faces. "You weren't supposed to have that toy outside to begin with and why on Earth would you think it would be funny to throw it in a tree?"
What were they thinking? I have no idea. Did they learn a lesson? Lord, I hope so. Did I help them get the toy back? Nope. They had to figure it out themselves.
In the span of their young lives, this is a small problem with small consequences, so it was easy for me to sit back and let them figure it out on their own.
But every day they get bigger. And every day they are going to make new bad choices and new bad decisions and every day I hope and pray they learn the valuable lessons of consequences and what is right and what is just plain dumb.
But every day, I also hope and pray that when the moment comes when my children legally turn into adults, they will remember all those years of bad choices and consequences and this will make them think twice.
But I honestly doubt it.
Hoping my children never do anything really stupid is just a mother's wishful thinking because as much as I know I'm a good mom, I also know my kids are going to screw up, because it seems that this is how my kids learn.
My friend is still a good mom despite the choices her child made. And I am a good mother even though my kids are constantly making mistakes.
And when my kids make those mistakes, I know that it doesn't automatically put me in the "bad mommy" column since I know plenty of amazing people who were raised by bad parents.
Watching our kids deal with the consequences of their actions is sometimes one of the most heartbreaking things we do as parents. But as the good mom said, as she was on her way to pick her son up from jail:
"This is the most humiliating thing I have had to do as a mother," she admitted through her tears. "But I still love him."