When I Felt Like the Worst Mom Ever--God Disagreed


My youngest child has a shoe problem.

Lest anyone should suppose this problem involves over-shining, let me explain. This boy’s shoe setback is that he cannot keep shoes around long enough to wear them out. I have provided a convenient shoe basket, 17 inches from the door, but this has not solved the problem. Not counting hand-me-downs, this one child has required more shoes than the other two, combined. Countless minutes are wasted each week looking for lost companions to flip-flops, just so we can make it to appointments on time.

Losing shoes has almost become a talent, a family joke. If there’s a way to remove oneself from shoes, this child will find it. There was the time he threw his Crocs over the fence at a friend’s home, and her neighbor’s dog chewed them to bits. He left not one, but two pairs, hidden in the grass, only to be eaten by the lawn mower. Shoes have fallen through bleachers at baseball games and out car windows. While riding in a shopping cart one morning, he took his shoes off, left them there, and forgot to mention it until we arrived home. Five years of shoe loss has racked up more stories than I can remember. It truly is a problem.


One week was especially bad. Only one of his favorite Star Wars flip-flops was in the shoe basket. We (I) tore the house apart looking for its match, with no luck. The next day, his sneakers were nowhere to be found. I told him to squeeze on an old pair of slip-ons, even though they were a bit too small, just until we could get to the store to find replacements. It wasn’t until after parking that I realized he had bare feet because he was scared to tell me that the too-small shoes couldn’t even be found. Thankfully, the store’s shoe department had one pair of summer sandals left in his size. Those new whale flip-flops couldn’t truly replace the Star Wars pair, he needed something. I counseled, “if you always put shoes in the basket, they’ll always be there when you need them.”

I reminded him over and over, but he either wasn’t listening or simply forgot.

Two days later, I came across ONE of the whale flip-flops, lying alone on the tile of the hallway; the other wasn’t in the shoe basket or anywhere to be found. A thorough search unearthed the missing mate of the Star Wars flip-flops, but the other whale was out to sea. At that point, my son had forgotten all about losing his brand-new shoes; his favorite, old ones had returned!

This was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Cinderella had lost a shoe one too many times. Something broke inside me, and I lost it.

There was yelling. Too much of it.

I AM SO TIRED OF THIS!

I SPEND SO MUCH MONEY FOR NEW SHOES,

BUT YOU DON’T CARE!

YOU REFUSE TO TAKE CARE OF THEM!

WHY CAN’T YOU JUST PUT YOUR SHOES IN THE BASKET?!?!

{Much too much of this and more.}


While I’m yelling, I’m pulling up bedspreads, looking under dressers, and digging through closets like a mad woman. I’m fuming because I care more about this than he ever will, so anger overtakes the situation.

He was apologizing and crying, hiding from the shoe police.

“I’m sorry, Mommy! I don’t know where it is!” Big, frightened tears streamed down his face, as he frantically searched, terrified that he might not find it. What would happen then?

It took me two minutes too long to relax and breathe.

I really was the worst mom in the world. How could I break a child’s spirit over a $6.99 pair of shoes?

Now I was crying and knew I needed a time-out. I wished I could take it all back.

What is wrong with me? All that over flip-flops? How could I be so cold?

I’m a terrible parent.

Deep breaths helped to calm me down, but the guilt inside was paralyzing. How could I fix what the dragon-lady had done? I prayed that my child would forgive me for my mistake and hoped we could move on with at least most of the damage repaired.

As I stepped out of my bedroom on the way to apologize and soothe heartbreak, it took every ounce of self-control to remain calm when I saw that the whale flip-flop was out in the middle of the floor again. This time, I didn’t yell. I called my son into the room with a gentle voice and asked if he would please put this shoe in the basket.

He didn’t.

Instead, he ran to the basket and returned, smiling, with the other whale flip-flop in tow.

“You found it, Mom! I knew Jesus would help! You always said to pray, and I asked for help to find my other shoe. There it is, Mom! My prayer was right!”


Right, it was. We had searched high and low for that missing shoe, only to find it, lying out in the open, inches away from where its mate had been earlier. It was a miracle. Not only had God led us to the missing shoe, He lovingly showed me that I wasn’t the worst mom ever. My howling and hollering had not given way to hate. There was no hesitation in hugs from a shoe-hindered son, even though his mom had been horrible.


Thankfully, prior deposits in my son’s love bank were high enough that even a huge withdrawal had not drained the account. In addition, my efforts in parenting had not been in vain. My son knew I loved him and remembered the power of prayer I had tried to teach him. Prior nurturing and training became tools when he needed help from above.

We both received answers to prayers that day. My son doesn’t just have to take the word of his imperfect parent that prayer works. He’s seen it and knows it. I know, even more, how much God knows me and loves me, even when I don’t deserve it. What a testimony to me from a heavenly parent about the power of love, forgiveness, and grace. I don’t have to be perfect to be a good parent myself, and I’m never the worst, as long as I keep trying.



Melodee Cooper is a Texan by birth, an Aggie by choice, the wife of a fellow Aggie because “he loves her more,” and a mother of three boys by a combination of time, modern science, and divine intervention. She has taught both 5th and 6th grade math and science, and is now able to be a stay-at-home mom, an amateur decorator, a crafter, a blogger, and a holiday enthusiast. She is battling Stage 4 cancer while remaining optimistic and grateful for the blessings in her life.

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