Last week Claire had (at least in her 1st-grade mind) a big performance at the assembly at school. She was SO excited for me to be there and watch her be-bop to some rap music with her class.

We got her all spiffed up and ready to go.It was crazy-hair day at school so we got Grace all “spiffed up” too.
The big kids left, then the girls rushed out the door on their bikes after we got lunches made, cleaned up breakfast, made beds, you know, the whole morning rigmarole. I raced to get Lucy ready, myself showered after my workout, respond to two quick texts about Young Women, blah blah blah. Lu and I clamored for a parking spot at 9:05 and raced into the school by 9:07 (as fast as you can race with Lu, which is actually not fast at all), just as everyone was clapping their hearts out for the outstanding 1st grade performance.

My heart dropped. I know there will be many seemingly more “important” things I will miss in life than a quick first grade performance, but how I long to “be there” for these kids in life! It was important to her so it was important to me too and I was sick to my stomach for missing it.

This is how Claire’s face looked when I found her in the crowd:
…Until she saw me…
That smile showed me I was forgiven and all was well in the world.
I guess sometimes just being there, whether or not you actually see the performance, makes a difference. I think of all the things coming up in life. The sports, the performances, the games, the dates…all those important things we may not really be able to stretch ourselves quite far enough to cover. Sometimes we’ll only be able to be there in our thoughts, or in a silent prayer we send “there.” Sometimes it’s only our words written a note that reach where we wish we could be. But I hope my children will always know that my heart is right there with them, even if my body is not.

I love the quote that says “Making the decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” –Elizabeth Stone

Five carbon copies of my heart are out there tucked safely next to the hearts of my children. I am “there” even though I’m really right here.

Love that sweet Claire. She knows I’m trying my best.


  1. The exact same thing happend to me with my daughter's kindergarten rendition of "The Little Engine that Could." I was almost in tears leaving. I couldn't bear to tell my daughter that I'd missed the whole thing. I'm somehow comforted that I'm not alone in my mothering failures. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have 6 boys and sometimes I miss "important" performances, so I feel your pain. It does make a world of difference when I am there, even if I have to leave early or arrive late. I love how kids forgive us so easily!

  3. What a sweet post! I so loved your darling Claire's "before/after seeing you" shots. The reminded me of my daughter's "before/after" facial expression when I showed up one day as one of the "mystery" readers at her school. So so true about being there, even if not always pysically, ALWAYS wiht our hearts and souls. (And I feel compelled to say *again*, what a wonderful mother and inspiration you are Shawni, to so many of us mothers out there! Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

  4. So glad to see these fun pictures which I didn't realize you had gotten even though you were dying about not being there. We've all been there and it feels like a knife in the heart. Still that beaming smile at seeing you makes everything almost all better!

  5. Your desire to always be there for your children reminded me of a new picture book, "Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. It's been a comfort to me when I think about my father who has passed away and of my five boys who have grown up and left home.

    "I wanted you more than you’ll ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go."

    Thanks for sharing your love of motherhood.

  6. This post just made me cry. Not because of a mother missing a little performance, but because the look on your daughters face in the last two pictures is so priceless. Something as simple as her mom being in the audience made her entire day. So cute. (and also probably because I am 9 months pregnant and my hormones are all out of whack.) Thanks for the inspiration and beautiful quote.

  7. That is a HORRIBLE feeling – I've been there before but as always, nice job finding the silver lining! Another mom in my daughter's class missed a performance (by seconds!) this year and I gave her the video I took of the performance – maybe you can have a mom share with you?

    On a separate note, will you please share the exact Canon camera and lenses you use — it would be so helpful. No hurry — you have a lot on your plate 🙂

    Lastly, just wanted to share with you that I learn so many parenting tips from you. e.g. the "heart attack" that is on my fridge – when friends are over, they ask about it and I say "It's from my 'friend's' blog – she doesn't know me and I don't know her but I learn my best parenting tips from her!". I live in Seattle and let me tell you that you have a fan club in the Northwest as well as with my friends in CA. Thank you for sharing – we all appreciate it so much.


  8. I love the quote you used in this blog entry. I am feeling very sad at the moment as my last baby has gone off to university. Over the past twelve months my two boys and now my girl have all headed off to university. My husband and I sat outside the house for quite awhile not knowing how to enter an empty house with all the joy, laughter and chaos gone. I thank God every day for such wonderful children and the opportunity to be a mother to them. But I miss them and their caring ways so much.
    I love to read your blog as it brings back memories of when my guys were that young and all the wonderful things we did as a family.

  9. I think all mothers have that feeling at one time in their lives. I gues it's the fact that it hurts and we feel like failures that should tell us how much we care. P.S. I never realized how much Grace and Lucy looked alike. Thanks for sharing you lives with us.

  10. Well. I am going to "be there" at TOFW when you come to OKC in May. I am so excited. I follow your blog so I am so excited to hear you and your mom. I would love to meet you up close and personal.

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