It was Children’s Day at church and my kids were supposed to stand up and speak in front of everyone, something they had never done before.

I was absolutely terrified. I have stood down angry, threatening patients on multiple occasions. That fear is nothing like this fear.

These were my kids. How well they do is a reflection on me, right? I made it my mission to make sure they would not let me down…

We practiced like crazy. 

They knew their speeches/verses backwards and forwards. We drilled and recited over and over again until they were absolutely sick of it and sick of me. We only had a weeks notice so you can imagine how much work went into those seven days.

I had dreams of a flawless performance. I would stand at the back of the auditorium and receive the accolades of the admiring masses as the service let out. Yes, yes those are my children. Yes, they are very smart, aren’t they?….

This would be my shining moment of motherhood!

But when they stood up at their turns, they froze.

Perhaps I was too wrapped up in my own anxiety over this to recognize their own nerves? Maybe I enhanced their stage fright by my obsessive drilling? Maybe it was just bound to happen no matter what?

My son, wide eyed, lifted his shirt and grabbed his crotch, zipping his fly up and down, up and down. My daughter at her turn just stared. And stared. And stared.

Awkward silence reigned until the children’s minister stood up and helped prompt them through it, each in turn.

I just wanted to melt into my seat. 

Tons of kind people came up after to tell them what a great job they did, how it took tremendous courage just to mount the steps to the dais. And they were right. I should have been proud. This was not failure, not for them and certainly not for me. I felt shamed as I pondered all of this on the drive home.

As a physician I am constantly plagued by the sense that everyone is judging me on a different level than they might judge someone else. It doesn’t matter if they really do. It is what my mind tells me that matters in this case. Sometimes I can see past that and focus on my kids instead of putting on a show, but I will be honest with you, it is a struggle. Speaking at church was not about me, it should not have been about me, but I made it about me anyway. 


That is what motherhood is about. Practice. Just like medicine. You try your darnedest to get it right, apologize when you don’t, and then work hard to do better the next time.

So to my kids, I love you both. Please forgive me when I am not perfect. I will love you always, flaws and all.


72 thoughts on “Blossoming

  1. Oh my gosh – and you probably held your breath the whole time, waiting for all that practice and preparation to show itself. Oh I have been there, I know exactly how you felt. And they always say just imagine everyone in the audience is wearing only their underwear, but honestly, that is even more unnerving to imagine.

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  2. Doc, this was sooooooooooo funny!!!!!! πŸ˜‚ Oh my gosh! I work with kids, so I know how it is when they want to be a star behind the scenes, but sit still in front of a crowd. The crotch thing was hilarious! Don’t feel bad, you’re a doctor, people are going to esteem you. Kids will be kids regardless of how accomplished their parents are. And the smile they put on my face is priceless! Anybody with kids know you can’t make them do anything they’re not developmentally ready to do yet. It’s normal for kids to be like that in front of crowds, even if they’re fairly outgoing. Not your fault. Not a bad mom. Your kids may become very good at public speaking, but even adults struggle with that.

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  3. I too am impressed that your kids actually got up in front of the audience. In surveys more people feared public speaking than feared death. according to Psychology Today. They also said the current theory is that we have evolved as collaborative beings and to single one’s self out deliberately is to open one’ s self up to rejection from the group, which would have historically lead to death. It also potentially makes one a target for predation. If that is programmed in our amygdalae, then for your children to get up in front was a major achievement for them. I am impressed. This is a behavior pattern that can be changed with operant conditioning – a relatively easy solution with no side effects or complications. When I started the MBA, I was deathly afraid of public speaking, and so were most in the class. They cured that giving us more and more and more presentations. In the last semester, they would give us a topic, and we would have 30 minutes to produce a 15 minute power point presentation and deliver it to the class. It becomes second nature after a while.

    I think your reaction was perfectly normal Victo and theirs was exemplary. They must trust you a great deal to get up in front like that when you asked them to. It all sounds pretty healthy and normal to me. πŸ™‚

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      • Indeed. In fact the behavior patterns of small children are all slanted to identifying and avoiding predation and rejection. When I drove a tractor-trailer and cars passed in the same direction on an interstate, babies, children, women and cats would always look me directly in the eye – assumingly to identify any danger. Men and dogs would look at the wheels spinning or their reflection in the fuel tanks or the mudflaps (Ha! Yosemite Sam mudflaps)

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      • Bwahaha! Funny. They were full color with Yosemite shooting his pistols. There is a really funny story to that. When I bought the mudflaps they were expensive and I was pondering the fact that they could not be seen at night. To that end I installed red lights that shone on the flaps at night.Of course, the flaps were facing backwards,so the lights had to face forwards. to shine on them. I was very careful that the lights were mounted so they were not visible, just their light on the flaps. Anyway, the scales in Nova Scotia pulled me over and said they were going to write me a ticket for having red lights facing forward: that is reserved for emergency vehicles. I argued that they were not visible from the front of the truck and they said the law only specified “facing forward”not “visible”, so I was in violation. i asked the officer if I came into his scale at night with steel plates over my headlights if he would let me proceed.. He responded: Of course not. I asked him why not if I had the lights facing forward, they were of the size and power specified and were on – after all it doesn’t say they have to be visible. He recognized that he had lost that argument and let me go. ha!

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  4. A mother does what she does with love in her heart, helping her children through something unfamiliar. I know what you mean, but you DID help them. Even adults get stage fright. Mothers know what you felt afterwards. You committed no sin. ❀ ❀ ❀

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  5. All part of the growing up process, both as a parent (can only voice from fostering experience) and a child.
    In 1965, my Dad taught me a poem which was to be my party piece at my brother’s wedding. I couldn’t recite it. Not because I’d forgotten it, and not because I froze.I couldn’t because I felt silly! However, my new sister in law didn’t mind and said to play something on the piano. I earned myself five shillings (25p in today’s money), but my choice could have been a little better………. I played The Carnival is Over.

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  6. I too can be overly hard on my children. As I grow and take time to reflect back, I realize that of course it isn’t about them but about me and how I was treated when I was a child. Similar to a phantom limb, we carry with us the invisible wounds brought upon us as children to our own children. I notice that the things that used to irritate the hell out of my dad and cause him to yell or get impatient with me, are the same things that shorten my own fuse now as a parent. When this happens, I invoke the grace to tell my children I am sorry and explain why I was upset and in this way I am mirroring compassionate behavior and the way to properly apologize. Instead of always striving to do and say the perfect thing, I hope to think that the lesson of my imperfect humanity will also be a gift. Thank you for this post!

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  7. Laughed my way through this post. It is simply wonderful that you can laugh
    at your parenting skills, the ups & downs. Any person who claims to
    be a perfect mother, is lying!
    “Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love this story, and your honesty! As parents we don’t get a “report card” so we’ve taken to looking at our children’s achievements (or lack of) as measure of our success as parents. That’s a lot of pressure for anyone! I’m so glad you can laugh at the experience now (and share it with the rest of us!).

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  9. I distinctly remember feeling physically sick when the kids were in any kind of sporting competition! The thing is to keep a sense of humor and laugh about it after, win or lose. Even if they don’t do well, it’s still taught them something, even if it’s just picking themselves up after a fall!

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  10. Hahahaha! I so enjoyed this story. When I was 2 or 3, I was in a church Christmas program. I was a super shy kid, so I think everyone expected me to just melt into the background or stare like your daughter did. Nope. I decided to wow the crowd by lifting my dress over my head and barking at the audience. Lol. I’d love to know what’s going through kids’ minds when they do things like that!

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  11. I hate to wrote this but your post is funny because that is what I would have done had I been in your shoes. Perhaps you over did it a bit but hey, you learn from your mistakes. I think with all the drilling the kiddoes realized it was very important that they get it right but they felt extra pressure especially since you were there watching which in turn caused them to fumble and stumble.

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    • We are, aren’t we? I tell you, blogging has been wonderful for impressing upon me that I am not the only person who has felt a certain way or done a certain thing. It is so reassuring to know that. Gives me peace. πŸ™‚

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  12. … but what happened is so natural! It’s just typical, normal, 100 per cent fine, stage fright! It happens to us all! Shows how normal your kids are f you ask me!
    They are a reflection… but you see a different reflection to the one others may see! I for one should know (better than most) how distorted reflections can be!
    Your post mad eme laugh! I love your writing style!

    Hope you’ve recovered! That whole ‘not about me’ thing… Do you know the chorus? “It’s all about you… Jesus, It’s not about me… as if you should do things my way…” etc etc… I can’t believe the amount of times I’ve muddled the words up so I sing “It’s all about meeee… Jesus… It’s not about Yooooooou…”
    A funny moment of silly muddling… but I often think it’s somewhat representative of the real, regretful, truth!!!


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  13. No worry. Perfectly natural. Stage fright is just an adrenaline rush that helps you “fight”. Problem is, too much adrenaline freezes you. It is just a matter of breathing. Slowly. To ease the stress. and then practice and practice. Until it works. πŸ™‚ Have a great week Victoire.

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  14. It’s legit to feel the kids are a reflection of us, but at the same time, we also have to remember that they also have their own unique personality that is not necessarily reflective of us either. We live and learn, as children and as adults. Such is life, always learning, always feeling, for what else do we do?

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  15. Watching our children walk through the fire is the worst kind of torture…you’re right, there’s that soaring joy when they succeed but when they fall flat on their faces? Well, it feels ten times worse than when we do it ourselves. Sounds like everybody learned something that day!

    Oh, and I have to say that the zipper part was the absolute BEST.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think the only shameful part of this story was that you didn’t mention if someone had a video camera handy! What precious kids and what wonderful moments to tell later…. and to tell their dates someday! πŸ™‚ They sound simply adorable! (I LOVE the crotch story!) ❀ Hug those perfect babies for me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh yes – another story I could relate to.

    After one similar episode with my oldest son, I realized that on the stage looking out over the audience, he was looking for me!! When I realized that’s why he had become paralyzed, I raised my arm and waved. He saw me, smiled, and then did what he needed to do.
    After that, I always made sure they knew where I was going to be sitting.

    Liked by 1 person

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