On Second Chances

The girls and I were out and about when we bumped into someone we hadn’t seen in a while. This lady and I chatted for a bit, then said goodbye. At some point that day, Grace overheard me tell someone (Stanton, my mom, my sister?) that running into this person had flustered me. Our last conversation, hers and mine, could have been smoother.

“Why don’t you like her, Mom?” Grace asked.

Sometimes, I forget two things: 1) My daughters are everywhere, and 2) they hear everything I say. I also have the fear (which other parents might share!) that someday, one of my children will announce, “My mommy doesn’t like you.”

This fear compelled me to tell Grace, “I just don’t know her very well.” My 5-year-old accepted this response.

As chance would have it, the girls and I saw this lady again, just a few days later. We all stopped, and this time, we talked longer than all our previous conversations. We got to know one another better.

When the girls and I were alone again, Grace asked me why I was nice to her. “Remember you said you don’t know her,” Grace said.

I was holding Anna, the diaper bag and assorted “summertime with kids” paraphernalia (sunscreen, someone’s flip flop, a water bottle). But I paused. I thought about Grace’s question. And the real reason, the answer to her question, was, “I thought I should give her a second chance.”

“A second chance? Why?”

I also have the fear (which other parents might share!) that someday, one of my children will announce, “My mommy doesn’t like you.”

My daughters and I started walking again. I don’t remember the rest of our conversation, verbatim. What I do remember is, I explained to Grace that people make mistakes sometimes. And I included myself as one of these people.

It’s possible that I was wrong about this person. Perhaps I had misunderstood her during one of our previous interactions. It’s true that I didn’t know her very well. Why not give her a second chance?

Our first instinct, many times, in many of our interactions, is to deflect blame. To preserve our good sense of self. We don’t usually consider, “You know, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s possible that I’m wrong.”

I thought about the second chances in my own life—all the second chances people have given me. Growing up, there were lots of times I could have been a kinder daughter, a more involved sister, a better friend. My family, and those like family, gave me multiple second chances.

The same is true for my husband—multiple second chances, friends. During all our time together, I’ve been caring and patient, and I’ve also been thoughtless. I’ve said things, at times, that I knew were hurtful. Every time, I hated myself afterward, and every time, Stanton forgave me. The gift of another chance—or, simply, love.

I read once that “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship for more than a minute probably would disagree. Love, I think, is saying you’re sorry. Love is second chances—trying again—moving forward, together.

Love is acknowledging, “Maybe it’s me; maybe I’m wrong.”

A few days ago, Grace hosted her very first lemonade stand in our front yard. Earlier in the day, we bought supplies at the grocery store: lemonade mix (I was happy to see my childhood favorite, Country Time, still on the shelf!), cups and a sheet of yellow poster board. We were going to hold it on Saturday morning, but Grace couldn’t wait—so we moved it up to Friday afternoon.

July 11, 2017

“Everything free, tips happily accepted” I wrote on the yellow poster board. Grace added “Grace & Anna :)” underneath.

“’Miley face!” Anna exclaimed.

A bunch of neighbors happened to walk by Grace’s lemonade stand that afternoon, and some thoughtful friends made a point to come by. Many of them presented Grace with their spare change, which Grace delightedly collected in her front shirt pocket. It was a wonderful experience.

Grace earned about $8 in tips—a fortune for a 5-year-old. Later, when Stanton got home from work, her eyes sparkled as she regaled him with the story of her successful lemonade stand—so successful, in fact, that there was not even a full cup left for him to sample.

Looking at my family in that moment—Stanton, Grace and Anna—the three of them happy and healthy, and simply enjoying being together—I felt the gift of second chances in my life. I felt grace. For all the times I could have been more loving, or less judgmental…what a gift to be part of this.

Family. Love. This life.

For all the second chances people have given me, certainly I could give some too.

“You’ll always be the miracles that make my life complete.” (George Strait)

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

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The Stories We Don’t Tell

I have two concerns with every blog post I write: 1) Is this piece narcissistic? Have I focused too much on myself and my personal experience, or have I done enough to share something of overarching value—something that might make a positive difference in someone else’s life? And conversely, 2) have I shared something I shouldn’t have—something sacred?

Life these days can feel like there’s no such thing as oversharing. We’ve become accustomed to 24/7 news cycles (although we usually tune in to the networks and narratives we already agree with). Our infinite wireless connections give us the capability to share, thumbs-up, angry-face, comment on and caption everything and anything, wherever we are, anytime.

There are lots of stories out there, individual as well as global, and they are constantly being told and talked about.

But what about the stories we don’t hear? And the ones we don’t tell?

We don’t have to tell all, do we, friends? And maybe, sometimes we shouldn’t.

The stories that are sacred to me are the ones I experience on a deep, quiet level with my family. Moments that have a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign hanging from the doorknob. Scenes from my life in which I feel joy, or sorrow, or the presence of a higher power—and to narrate that experience would be to besmirch the sacredness of it.

You probably have these experiences too—the ones that make you pause before you click “Post.”

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A few months ago, I wrote a rough draft of a post about moving from Texas to New York. The working title was “10 Signs You’re Not in Texas Anymore,” and included social-culture tidbits like, “Texas is a bit more ‘bling,’ while New York (upstate, at least) loves L.L. Bean.”

I worried that my post might come across as “poking fun at” either place, rather than “just for fun” about both. So I shared the rough draft with family and friends from both regions. Some of the “signs” prompted them to affirm, “Mm-hmm.” Others made them laugh. “Maybe this will go viral,” I said, half-joking.

Then someone noted that it would have to be snarky in order to go viral.

He was right: Snarky rules. It’s right up there with screen names and online personas, soundbite-heavy broadcast journalism, and hashtag-friendly campaigns (from advertising to political…if there’s even much of a difference).

Snarky isn’t my style. So I’ve saved this “10 Signs” story for face-to-face conversations, to limit any potential misunderstandings about two unique places, each amazing and special in their own right.

With all the sharing that does happen, we might turn to overemphasis and emojis galore (or, if we’re writers, clickbait headlines) to attract people to our stories. “Come on, folks—pay attention to me!”

Every now and then, though, it might be helpful to ask ourselves, “Is this a story I should tell the world? Or is it one better saved for face-to-face conversations?”

In the beginning, we told stories to explain the unknown. We didn’t have blog posts or phones or YouTube. All we had were one another, gathered around a fire—together.

If we were gathered together, like that, today—right now—would we speak in extremes? Would we lodge ourselves on opposite sides of the fire, or would we acknowledge the shades of gray that are part of life? Would we talk to one another?

Would we tell our stories, from the heart, about what matters to us? About the experiences that have shaped us? Would we share the moments that we know not to simply lob online?

For many of us, I think the answer would be, “Yes.” Yes, we’d really talk to one another.

We probably would find some common ground, too.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

23 Conversations With Little G

At 3½ years old, Little G has become her own person. There are times when she banters with my hubby and me that catch us off guard. Little G can alternate between thoughtful, funny, and downright self-centered—like all of us, right? 🙂 Some of these moments follow. And, please “Leave a Comment” to share your moments with your kiddos, friends.

Conversation No. 1

Little G: Morning, Mom.
Me: Hi, honey. Come snuggle with me.
Little G: No, Mom. Time to wake up!
Me: [yawning] Let’s snuggle a minute, honey.
Little G: It’s wake-up time, sleepyhead!

Conversation No. 2

Little G: [snuggling into me] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: [loving the snuggles] OK! Here are three chocolate-covered pretzels.
Little G: Because I’m 3! [a few minutes later] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: Little G! I just gave you a treat.
Little G: Come on, Mom. [more snuggles]
Me: O … K. [giving her some Goldfish]
Little G: [15 minutes later] Can I have a treat, Mom?
Me: Little G! You’ve had nothing but treats all morning.
Little G: Haha! [pause] How about a cookie?

Conversation No. 3 

Little G: Read me a book, Mom?
Me: Sure, honey. [Little G hands me “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I begin reading.]
Little G: Mouse really likes his cookie.
Me: He does!
Little G: I like cookies, too. [looking at me]
Me: No, Little G.

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Conversation No. 4

Little G: Is this the right feet?
[Asks this question every time before putting on her shoes.]

Conversation No. 5

Me: Ready for school?
Little G: Yes, the big sister’s ready!
(Little G’s little sister is due in a few weeks.)

Conversation No. 6

Little G: You’re too big for your car seat, Mom.
Me: Thanks, honey. (The ninth month of pregnancy will do that to you!)

Conversation No. 7

Me: Hmm, I think this is the right turn.
Little G: Are you sure you know where you’re going, Mom?
(Who doesn’t love a backseat driver, of any age?!)

Conversation No. 8

Little G: Look, Mom: I’m not picking my nose today.
Me: Good job!

Conversation No. 9

Little G: I want a treat!
Me: You need to eat your lunch first. Got it?
Little G: No, I don’t got it!

Conversation No. 10

Me: Ouch!
Little G: What, Mom?
Me: I just hurt my back. I’m OK, though.
Little G: Sorry about your owie, Mom. Let’s sit down and talk about it.

Conversation No. 11

Little G: Time to go to Starbucks!
Me: Yes!
Little G: Your favorite place, Mom!
Me: Well … one of them, honey!

Conversation No. 12

Me: Today is your school program! Yay!
Little G: I don’t feel like singing today.
Me: Well, maybe you can try.
Little G: Hmm … no, not today. 

Conversation No. 13

Little G: Fix my hair, Mom? Dad didn’t do a good job, again.
Me: He tried his best. But yes, let me fix your hair.

Conversation No. 14

Me: Here’s your dinner, honey.
Little G: No! I don’t want tacos! No.
Me: It’s either tacos or nothing.
Little G: [sighing deeply] O … K, Mom.

Conversation No. 15

Me: I need to use the potty, honey. I’ll be right back.
Little G: I’ll come with you, Mom.
Me: No, it’s OK, honey.
Little G: No, it’s OK, Mom. I’ll just sit right here on my step stool, right here, and watch you. OK?
Me: [sighing deeply] O … K.

Conversation No. 16

Me: Oh, man. I just messed something up.
Little G: It’s OK, Mom.
Me: I need to redo this. Man!
Little G: No pouting, Mom.

Conversation No. 17

Little G: Mom, you’re my best lady in the world.
Me: Awww … you, too!

Conversation No. 18

Me: How was your work dinner, honey?
Hubby: Good!
Little G: What did you have?
Hubby: Chicken Laredo.
Little G: Wow! That’s different!

Conversation No. 19

Me: Do you know who loves you?
Little G: You!
Me: Yes! And …
Little G: Daddy. And Jesus loves me, too.
Me: ❤

Conversation No. 20

Little G: Look, Mom! My feet are dancing.
[Says every time I turn on the car radio.]

Conversation No. 21

[at the library]
Me: Let’s check out some books!
Little G: Or, some DVDs!
Me: How about books and DVDs?
Little G: I just want DVDs.

Conversation No. 22

Little G: My shirt doesn’t fit anymore!
Me: It’s just fine.
Little G: No, it’s too small! My head’s stuck!
Me: Here, let me just unbutton these buttons … there you go. It’s fine.
Little G: [stunned] Hey, you’re right, Mom!
Me: What do you know?

Conversation No. 23

Little G: Time to dance, Mom!
Me: I’m a little tired, honey. I’ll just watch you, OK?
Little G: Because of my baby sister?
Me: Yes, she’s making me a little tired. But I’m excited to watch you! OK?
Little G: OK. Just sit right here. You’ll be OK, sweetie.
Me: Awww … thanks, honey.