The Most Shameful Parenting Moment I Have Ever Faced

It was *really* awful. I shouldn’t have done it. I know that. But I was desperate. I felt like I had no choice.

So, I did what I had to do. And Ashley was the one who suggested it anyway. It wasn’t even my idea.

Let me explain.

We have a very complicated and intricate carpool schedule. EVERY SINGLE DAY is completely different. The times of pick up, locations, and even the order of which child gets picked up first changes from day to day. It requires a steel-trap mind to keep it all straight and the timing of a ninja to pull it off perfectly.

But Old Granny (my minivan) and I were rocking it this year making each pick up like a boss. We left no child standing in the rain or waiting helplessly after practice. We were on fire scooping up one child here and dropping another child there.

Until football season ended.




Suddenly the carpool routine changed again throwing the whole schedule into chaos and changing each day again…in the middle of the year…when I already knew what I was doing. I had to commit another completely different schedule to memory. I wrote it in on my calendar. I set my phone alarm to go off. It didn’t take long before I had the new schedule down pat! I mean it. I had it down…I did…I swear I did!



One fateful Friday, I dutifully got in my car to pick up Lucy in her 3rd grade pick up line. I was even at the front of the line having left 5 minutes earlier than usual. I was thinking how much I rocked because I am *never* in the front of the line.

I picked her up and we happily chatted all about her day. She’d played four square at recess and learned about raptors in science. We were talking and laughing–you know really *connecting*. It was how you always imagined picking up your child would be like but seldom is. Birds were singing. Smiles were bright. I was a paragon of motherhood at its finest!

We got home and healthy snacks were doled out. Lucy got out her homework. It was officially a delightful afternoon. My husband, Robert, even got home early! He walked right in, said hello to us both, and asked, “Hey, where’s Bobby?”

Oh, right. My other child. Who was actually supposed to be picked up that day right after Lucy…about 20 minutes ago. GAH!!!

This is where I should tell you that, until that moment, I had NEVER, EVER even been officially late to a single pickup, much less totally forgotten about one. And Bobby is in 7th grade…so I’ve had 8 years of school pickups (11 if you count preschool). My record was, up to that point, completely unblemished.

Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, Lisa. You forgot/were late to ONE carpool in either 8 or 11 years. That’s not really a horrible or shameful thing. Give me a break!”

Oh, no. That’s not the shameful part. Just wait.

You see, my two children are very different, and not just because they are different ages and genders. They are just very different people. Lucy is very adaptable. She will go with the flow. Nothing much gets her down or ruffles her feathers. Bobby is not that way. Β He’s a bit more sensitive. He’s a worrier and a planner who likes to know what’s happening. And when the expected doesn’t happen, he gets really unsettled.

So what I’m saying is, if you are going to forget to pick up one of my children, make it Lucy. She won’t be upset. She’ll be happy she got to talk to the nice lady at Extended Day (where unclaimed children are shuffled) and consider it an adventure. But if you forget Bobby, he will think you have died in a fiery car crash and also know in his heart of hearts that you don’t love him anymore. No question.

Yeah, THAT’S the one I forgot.

I ran out the door, squealed out of the driveway, and started to head to the middle school which is 4 to 7 minutes from my house depending on traffic. I felt like crying. I used that time to do the only reasonable thing possible. I called Ashley.

Emergency Conference Time

Me: OMG, Ashley. I screwed up the carpool schedule and forgot to pick up one of the kids.

Ashley: Oh, Lucy will be fine. She’ll barely notice. She’ll probably think it was cool to get to go to Extended Day. Don’t feel bad. It could happen to anyone.

Me: No, I got her. I FORGOT TO PICK UP BOBBY! I’m 20ish minutes late to pickup.

Ashley: Oh, God nooooooooooooooooooooo! Not Bobby! He will be destroyed.

Me: I know. Help me. What do I do?

Ashley: Well, you obviously can’t tell him that picking him up slipped your mind. That would crush his spirit. Can you tell him you had car trouble? Old Granny could certainly have car trouble making you late.

Me: I don’t think so. He’d always be worried the car would break down every time he got in it. I don’t think I can deal with that for the rest of my life. Plus, Robert got home early and I left Lucy at home with him. Why would I have taken her home if I was simply running late?

Ashley: Good point. WAIT! What if Lucy had to poop. You’d have to take her home to poop. He’s a boy, he’ll understand that.

Me: Okay, but he’ll still think he’s a second class citizen who I cruelly left on the corner at middle school with no notice at the whims of his sister’s bowel.

Ashley: Ugh. True. WAIT! Is Bobby still doing that thing where he doesn’t ever remember to turn his cell phone on when school is over so you can’t ever reach him, even though you’ve told him a thousand times to turn it on?

Me: Of course he is.

Ashley: Perfect. Just perfect. You can’t play defense on this one, Lisa. You just can’t. There is too much at stake here. You’ve got to remember, he has a Y chromosome. You have to spin it around on him as you can only do with a Y chromosome person. You have to play offense on this one. Are you following me?

Me: No, not at all.

Ashley: Okay, when you hit your Robert’s car as it was parked in the driveway, what did you do? Did you grovel? Did you beg for forgiveness for your mistake?

Me: No. I blamed him for parking in my blind spot, of course.

Ashley: What did he say?

Me: He said he was sorry.

Ashley: There you go. You Jedi mind tricked him into thinking it was his fault. He actually apologized to YOU when YOU hit HIS parked car! Case closed.

Me: Okay, but how does that help me with Bobby?

Ashley: Well, you tell him that Lucy had to poop and you had to rush her home. OF COURSE you tried to call him–several times in fact–BUT HE NEVER PICKED UP THE PHONE because he FORGOT AGAIN to turn it on. You are livid. This is unacceptable behavior. You have to be able to reach him. He apologizes. Crisis averted. The end.

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I’m a terrible liar. TERRIBLE. I feel so awful and guilty about this. I don’t know I can summon up the kind of maternal irritation and rage needed to pull this off.

Ashley: Of course you can. Just think of how he leaves the lights on in his room every single day when he leaves for school…and how he never flushes the toilet…and how he leaves wet towels all over his bedroom floor. Feel the rage, Lisa. Embrace it.

Collage of Irritation

Me: Yeah, those things are REALLY annoying.

Ashley: I know. And really, it’s either this or he will think you don’t love him. He will feel it in his soul. Oh, and you’ll also be listening to him talk forlornly about the time you forgot him at middle school from now until he graduates from college. Your pick.

Me: I’ll do it. It’s really my only choice. It’s for his own happiness.

Ashley: Atta girl. Now, hang up right now and call his cell phone number two or three times so it will show he has missed calls from his mother. You can do this. May the force be with you!Β Call me when it’s over.

And that’s exactly what I did.

When I pulled up to the school there he was standing all alone by the flag pole. He looked a combination of pissed and worried. I knew it was now or never.

Before he could even draw a breath I began a motherly tirade about how I had tried to reach him but couldn’t. I mentioned all of Ashley’s talking points. For good measure, I added that maybe I should just consider canceling his cell phone service since I spend a small fortune on it and if I can’t reach him, then why should I bother paying for it??!!

And do you know what he did?

He said he was sorry. And then he sweetly asked me what we were having for dinner. Crisis completely averted.

Now, I’m not saying I’m proud of this. It’s pretty shameful to be totally in the wrong and use your parental powers to turn the tables on an unsuspecting and loving child. (Husbands are another matter. There is a level playing field there). But honestly, he would have been crushed. This way was SO much better for him.

I’ll also never, ever do it again…well, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Β Motherhood Mantra



The Most Shameful Parenting Moment I Have Ever Faced — 113 Comments

  1. Okay, I am dying to know…did he ask Lucy if she actually had to poop or did he just take it as truth? My friend, I laughed at this because I, too have forgotten to pick up a child once in all the years I have been doing this and I lied right through my teeth (and I really suck at lying and apparently remembering b/c I can’t remember what I said). I say, “Yay, you and Ashley for coming up with a pretty good idea!” I think that should be some sort of tagline for us: Motherhood: Averting one crisis at a time.

    • “Motherhood: Averting one crisis at a time” I LOVE it!

      That’s the weird thing, AnnMarie, he didn’t question a single thing! He never asked Lucy about the bathroom. He didn’t even notice that the missed calls from me were left 20 minutes after I was supposed to be there and not earlier like they should have been! (Thank goodness)

      And he never felt bad he’d been left…he just took the fact that he screwed up with his phone and moved on, never to mention it all again. Hooray!!

  2. My husband is gifted in the art of making his mistakes my fault. I called bs on it early in our relationship, so now it’s a long running joke.

    You made the right choice. Not only did you protect Bobby’s poor little heart, he may be more responsible with his phone now. Win!

    • Whew! Yes. I feel so lucky that he bought it and that it didn’t crush him. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

  3. I don’t think that’s terrible! You actually came up a great plan to protect your son’s fragile ego. Good for you! And the pictures were just a bonus – hilarious!

    • Thanks for understanding, Erin! I still can’t believe I was able to pull it off…and that it worked!! πŸ™‚

  4. Oh…my! That’s just insane! He doesn’t read your blog does he? LOL Kinda will ruin the whole thing if he reads it. You know, though, I find it oddly sweet that you went to such links to protect his spirit. Even if he did read this, he’s got to know how much you love him to go to so much trouble.

    I’m the kind of mom, though, that has lost track of time before and been late and my kids call me on it, and I tell them the truth, but it’s always something like, “I didn’t forget. I looked at the clock and had 20 minutes yet and got busy with something and time got away from me. I’m sorry, and I’ll try never to do it again.” So far they’ve not held it over my head. πŸ™‚ I might be tempted to invent a story, though, if they were like your son. They do tend to remember the times I was late, but they know if they mention those, then I’m mentioning the times they forgot to clean rooms or forgot homework or lunches that I brought to school so they would have them, etc. Yah, I make sure I got more dirt on them than they do on me. LOL That’s my security. Sad, but true! πŸ™‚

    • Oh, gosh no! He never, ever reads the blog. THANK GOODNESS!! Yes, that would blow it for sure!

      Hahahaha about having more dirt on your kids than they have on you! SO TRUE!! (and helpful!!)

    • Hahahaha! If you’d have had Ashley to call, she would have thought of something for you to say to them. It’s amazing how the kids know just how to lay the guilt trips on moms!! πŸ™‚

  5. Ha! I think you deserve a medal!
    You saved your sanity and his.
    I am so grateful we have no carpools/pick-ups because we live in walking distance of the elementary and high school… This has saved me on more than one occasion!

    • Oh! It sounds HEAVENLY to be within walking distance. It would have saved me in this instance for sure! (but it would still leave me with the possibility of not being at home at the right time, so I’d probably still end up needed an excuse for that eventually!!)

  6. This is a great column you guys.
    I notice Lucy doesn’t say boo. Lets you drive all the way home, gets her snack, nothing about a missing brother.

  7. I’m guessing Bobby doesn’t read this column, right?
    I thought No Child Left Behind was supposed to take care of this kind of thing.

    • Bwahahahahaha! Just another way No Child Left Behind has failed us!
      Thank goodness, Bobby does NOT read the blog. He has more pressing ways to spend his time on line. (Minecraft)

    • Thank you, Nellie! I think it was in his best interest. (and thank goodness for good girlfriends who will help you on the fly!!)

  8. yeah I noticed that Lucy didn’t seem to be too phased about having no brother in the picture. I honestly have been late a few times thankfully now we live far enough out we have a school bus that comes to get them.. yeah for school transportation.

    • Hahahahahaha! No, she was not at all bothered by her brotherless condition, was she? In her defense, she probably thought he was supposed to be picked up later….but who am I kidding? The kids have these things memorized long before I do with their young, limber brains!

  9. I was just like Bobby as a kid! If my parents were late picking me up I was sure, just sure, that they had died and I was an orphan. Awww, I know how he feels.
    Great post, but don’t be too hard on yourself!

    • Thanks, Suzanne! Some children are just more sensitive about these things! Since nobody has blasted me for being a horrible mom, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing. (or maybe those people are just not commenting!! πŸ™‚ )

  10. Hilarious!!!!! I absolutely love that you guys double teamed to come up with this! And it’s a good thing Lucy wouldn’t mind it if you were late picking her up, because this totally wouldn’t work on a girl! LOL!

    And I agree that preserving Bobby’s sense of being loved is more important than the truth about Lucy’s after school poo.

    • Oh, you could not be more right, Danielle. This would NEVER work on Lucy. It’s so fortunate I wouldn’t need to come up with an excuse for her!! Ha!

      I was lucky I had Ashley to come to my rescue, story wise! Whew!

  11. So funny – meaning, I remember those days when my son was in school and my brain was ALWAYS. ON. OVERLOAD! Honestly, if this is the worse thing you ever do, well, you’ll get the mother of the year award! πŸ™‚ Way to think quick, Ash – that’s why you two are besties!

    • Always on overload…with all the things you need to do while they’re at school, and then all you have to do the rest of the day!

      Yes, Ashley is the best. Her powers are great. We are all lucky she uses them for good and not for evil! πŸ™‚

  12. My poor Bobby!!
    I guess you will have to trust me not to tell. Of course I won’t if you don’t write any more stories about me!

    • Oh no, I totally forgot that GRANDPARENTS who might just frown upon my child rearing strategies might be reading this. Sorry!!

      Surely you had to improvise a time or two over the years, right?! I totally trust you not to tell him! (and Ashley and I are totally going to have to do a Cookie follow up post!!)

  13. I don’t even have words for how priceless this is!!!!!!

    I have a Lucy and a Bobby and you have re-inspired me to work harder at the hysterical, creative solution to dealing with the child who is always primed for disaster instead of screaming at her “why are you always primed for disaster!?!?!?”.

    • Hahaha!
      So glad to know that I am not the only one with such different children. It’s irritating because all the strategies I learned for parenting the first one are not applicable for the second one (who has required me to figure out all new and different strategies).
      It certainly helps to have Ashley on your team!!

  14. This is absolutely hysterical! I learned pretty early in life that when you feel like everything is going swimmingly well, it’s not. You just haven’t realized what is about to hit the fan!

    And me? I’m definitely a Bobby. I’m now looking back and wondering what little white lies my mother told me to keep me from having a total meltdown.

    • Hahahaha! I bet your mom was armed and ready! (Don’t ask her directly, though. I bet she’ll never give up her secrets even now.)
      The picture of your dog with the tennis balls is fantastic!! πŸ™‚

  15. Hahahah oh my god you two are awesome!

    I would do the same thing. You can’t crush his soul!!!! It’s okay, you shouldn’t be ashamed. But….maybe turn your alarm back on? πŸ™‚

    • Hahahaha! Whether it’s a blog post or averting a motherhood crisis of your own making, it’s comforting to know someone with major skillz will answer the phone when you are in a panic.

      Oh, yes…the alarm went right back on! πŸ™‚

  16. Now I know why I always end up apologizing when my husband has done something thoughtless! He uses your tricks!
    I admit to doing this to my students though. Once I let my sons play in my classroom after school and they made a mess of all the math tools and centers stuff. I left it, assuming the cleaning staff would take care of it, but they didn’t.
    I am a stickler for making the students clean up every time, so I couldn’t tell them I let my own kids play without cleaning up, so I did what I had to do. I told them I was very disappointed that they hadnt cleaned up yesterday, but I would let it slide seeing as how it was the first time there had ever been a problem. πŸ™‚

    • HAHAHAHAHAHA!! OMG… I LOVE that story about your students! I can’t stop laughing Robin. That is hysterical!! Bravo!

      And poor Whim! Now you’ll be on the lookout for this maneuver!! haha! πŸ™‚

    • I think it did maintain his feeling of harmony with the world. It’s not my finest moment, but sometimes you get desperate enough to get creative.

      What *is* with the non-flush? I just don’t get it. It drives me nuts!! SO gross! (I delicately did NOT include that in my collage of irritation!)

    • Oh, gosh. I know, Jason. I KNOW!

      If it helps, I am legitimately ashamed of duping him…but really, I promise you, he would have been crushed had I just told him I just forgot. It was so much better for him to be “in trouble” πŸ™

  17. I can’t imagine being in that situation! I’m so grateful that the toddler is more like your Lucy (we’ll see how the baby ends up). Someday you’ll be able to tell him about this and then after five minutes of him saying β€œThat’s bulls*$t” you’ll both laugh. Just make sure to wait until then to tell him!

    • Maybe someday, Leslie…a really, really long time from now! Perhaps when he’s a dad and he understands parental desperation. Until then, I’m not saying a word!!

  18. My elementary school was only a few blocks from home but I never went or came back alone. One day my Grandma was really late and I don’t remember even wondering why she was late, I just sneaked away from my teacher and walked home. Turns out she did go to get me later and she was frantic when she came home some time later! To this day, I don’t know why she was late. I do remember her being pretty pissed at me though.
    Is it okay to think what you did was pretty awesome – I just hope Bobby doesn’t read mommy’s blog any time soon πŸ™‚

    • It’s nice to know that even Grandmas are late once in awhile! (she must have been so worried to get to school and you weren’t there!)
      Luckily, reading the blog would never even cross his mind. Thank goodness!!

    • HA!
      Oh, yes. Like many a twelve (almost thirteen) year old boy, he is well acquainted with maternal nagging and displeasure. It doesn’t phase him at all. Maternal abandonment (even if only 20 minutes duration) would be another thing!

  19. Bwahaha, this post was hilarious! I get the feelings of guilt (and I would have them too), but that just sounds like pure genius!

    My mom was perpetually late picking me up, and inevitably after being pissed for a couple moments I would panic and start to think that something awful had happened, then go back to being pissed. Since this was pre-cellphone days (and that little fact that I don’t have a Y chromosome) unfortunately for her there was no way she could turn this on me πŸ˜‰

    • Hahaha! I’m glad I didn’t have to try to parent pre-cellphone. I would have been totally out of luck!! Wait..naw! Ashley would have figured out something else, I’m sure!! πŸ™‚

  20. Hilarious! I have tried to cover my tracks when I’ve done something but I’m always ratted out by another kid! I once missed a school concert bcs I was busy talking to another parent outside in the hall… I told my kid I saw it and loved it and another kid ratted me out! I need to learn how to be more sneaky:)

    • You gave me such a chuckle about the concert and the chatting. SO could happen to me!! πŸ™‚

      Lucy really could have ruined the whole thing once we got home if she’d been so inclined. Whew!

  21. That is brilliant! And actually, I think your parental strategy (no, not lie) was a stroke of genius. You obviously put a lot of thought into it and know your kid well, so I for one think you should be proud! And how the hell are you supposed to keep on top of a changing schedule all the time? We are bound to slip up with those kinds of pressures! Oh, and my favorite part was, “Oh, noooo, not Bobby! He’ll be destroyed!” It was playing like a slow-motion movie clip in my brain…

    • Thank you so much, Stephanie! You totally get it!!
      Knowing him, I really think it was really the best thing that I could have done at that point for his peace of mind! πŸ™‚

  22. Oh how I wish I could have used this the one and only time I didn’t remember to pick up my boys from a new school who let out early on Tuesdays. I forgot about that fact, and they had to call me after waiting 45 minutes for me to come. I felt HORRIBLE. They still bring it up quite often with me.

    That was definitely a clever way of handling a sticky situation. πŸ™‚

  23. I think other moms can understand this so much more than dads can! I totally get what you did. And why. And if you hadn’t you really would have been dealing with it for…years.

    Also totally makes me laugh that you have one kid who would be okay with it and one who wouldn’t because, seriously, me too!

  24. I think you did the only thing you possibly could have done. Too funny.

    Now make sure to password protect this post in case he finds it in the future, or you will never hear the end of it! πŸ˜‰

    • Good point, Tracie!! I’ll have to think about that—especially if he ever starts taking an interest in the blog!! πŸ™‚

  25. Not that long ago I forgot my son. Luckily he’s 17. However, I technically didn’t forget him … I just thought I was supposed to pick him up at a different time. He was ticked so I told him to get a job and a car. Ha!

    Honestly though, my middle child (now 21) is just like Bobby and I’d lie to him to this day if I thought it was going to keep him from suffering.

    • It’s so nice to know there are many of us that have one child who can take it just fine, and one who just wouldn’t! πŸ™‚

  26. Oh my goodness, I am so going to remember this one! LOL. I have a son who is the same way — set in his schedule, worrier…. He’s too little to have a cell phone right now, but I am sure one day I’ll need this excuse….
    And I loved how you wrote it with the conversation with your friend — I was laughing so hard!

    Happy Sharefest!

  27. Hi, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (, and I’m visiting from the SITS Saturday Sharefest.

    Omg, so funny. And I think you said it all when you said you gotta do what you gotta do. And really, this is in HIS best interest, so bottom line is you were being a GOOD mother.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. If you’ve never visited yet, I hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  28. {Melinda} At least he wasn’t having an art show that he was talking about ALL week and dying for you to be there. And you didn’t show up late — after all the kids had left — and found out you were the only parent who didn’t show up. Now that is shameful. What kind of mother would do THAT?? Oh wait, yeah … me.

    • Oh, Melinda!! When I read that on your site Thursday, I couldn’t believe we both posted similar Mom Fails on the same day!

  29. Seriously…this is the FIRST time you EVER used this ploy??? Oh you scam mama virgin… I pity you!!! There is nothing more wise than to throw the ol’ LOOP around to the poor kid who has a RECORD of wrongdoings and you go right at ’em with the power only a mom can hold!!! Oh yeah…done that!!! It’s the best tactic known to all women-kind…as Ashley totally has apparent inherent skills!! I do feel a little bad for Bobby though… I think I’ll give him a call… πŸ˜‰ We moms gotta be stealth and on our feet at all times… it’s all in how you play the game of motherhood. lol

    • You got it, Chris. Motherhood requires stealth at all times! I’m glad I’ve got Ashley and you to set me straight and make sure I’m on my game!! πŸ™‚

  30. I say good call. When I was a kid, our pastor used to preach about once a year about the time when his parents left him at a gas station for 20 minutes on a road trip. About how they remembered to gather the other 7 children in the van but forgot him. Couldn’t tell you what his sermon was actually about any of those times, just that he used that story at least once a year.
    Good call.

    • Hahahahahaha! Oh, my gosh that’s SO funny! Poor guy, he never got over it! πŸ˜‰ I’m starting to feel much better now!

  31. OMG! How hilarious and pure genius was your conversation with Ashley. Don’t worry, when your kids hit their stride as teenagers there will be plenty times for you to disappoint your children. Take it from a mom who is now a grandma. I’ve been through it all. They will eventually forget the little things and one day tell you how much they value your advice.

  32. My phone sounds alarms all day long. Which is/was a glorious way to maintain the facade of my brain = steel trap.

    Then my youngest learned how to snooze them “for” me. No good.

    And totally LOL at scam mama virgin. That’s great!

    • Hahaha! It’s funny your youngest learned how to snooze them. Snooze is not your friend when you’re got a schedule to keep!!

  33. Wow. Smart plan! My son would have been devastated as well. He went to the school office the other day to let them know I forgot to write a note for him to get off the school bus at daycare. They had to call and verify. I don’t know what he’d do if I forgot to pick him up! I will remember this post.

    • That was a true flaw in the plan because that would have ruined it all. I am so glad it didn’t cross his mind. WHEW. That was a close one!

  34. TOO FUNNY! I was really getting worried that after you went through that whole spiel he was going to tell you that he had tried to call you like four times!~ Glad he bought it and you got off the hook. Sometimes jedi mind tricks are necessary to our survival!

    • The jedi mind trick can be a mother’s best friend. I’m so glad that Ashley’s quick thinking advice saved the day!!

  35. This is awesome! I’ll need to remember this.

    My preschooler just reminded me this afternoon of that time (ONCE, kid, ONCE) when he was the last kid left at pick up because I was late because I was at a movie. (oops) I tried to say I was just running late, but my husband totally busted me when we got home when he asked me how the movie was.

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