I'll never forget one day, after a trip to the grocery store with all of my children, which had been particularly hair-raising, Endeavor said to me, "When did you stop feeling embarrassed?"
I replied, "Embarrassed? Embarrassed about what?"
Endeavor, almost nine years old at that time, had recently discovered the emotion of embarrassment, and was feeling it frequently. She stared at me pointedly, waved her hands around, and answered, "About this! About all of this!"
I paused from loading the groceries into the back of the mini-van and surveyed the scene. Justone was making the automatic door open and shut repeatedly. Superkid, sporting a black eye, was singing "We Will Rock You" at the top of her lungs--an encore performance for the parking lot, after she'd sung it all through the grocery store. Lily was still in the shopping cart, the transfer of her carseat from cart to car prevented by the groceries that blocked her portable tank of oxygen. I'd already fielded multiple queries from our fellow shoppers about the oxygen and the feeding tube. Right now, Superkid's singing was still drawing a crowd of curious onlookers, even here in the parking lot.
I looked at Endeavor. She was crouched in the back of the mini-van, blushing, looking decidedly embarrassed.
And I realized, at that moment, that embarrassment was not what I was feeling. I was feeling relief, that we had at last made it from the store to the car in one piece. I was feeling concern that Superkid's song of choice was "We Will Rock You", not "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam." I was feeling irritation that Justone was playing with the door, instead of helping to unload the grocery cart. I was feeling gratitude, that I was able to take all four of my children shopping for my own groceries and that no one--at that moment--was in the hospital. And I was feeling a little confused about how two tins of sardines had worked their way into my grocery cart. But, embarrassed? I simply did not have the brain space for it.
I smiled, and said to Endeavor, "Every once in a while, I get embarrassed. But never as much or as often as I used to."
"How did that happen?" Endeavor wondered. "What made it happen? Did you stop all at once, or a little at a time?"
"I think it began to happen," I said thoughtfully, "When I became a mother. Before that, all of the things that used to happen that embarrassed me were just preparation for all the things that could embarrass me now, but don't. Maybe I got embarrassed enough before I had children, that I just don't embarrass as easily, anymore."
"I don't know how you do it," Endeavor said, her voice filled with awe. "How do you go places with us and not get embarrassed?"
It was a good question, considering the scene we were making, so I thought about it for a moment before I responded. "Endeavor, if I took the time to feel embarrassed every time someone did something unusual in this family, I would miss out on too many good things. I don't get embarrassed by Superkid singing or Justone opening and shutting the car door or by Lily's oxygen tank because I'm glad that Superkid's lungs work well enough so she can sing loudly and because I think it is cool that Justone is curious about the way things work and because I'm thankful that Lily's oxygen tank lets her be here with us, instead of at the hospital. It is not embarrassing to be the mom in this family, it is fun."
"Well," Endeavor sighed, "You must be having a lot of fun."
All of the other Twelve Embarrassing Days of Christmas:
The First - Cinderella and Her Teddy Bear Pajamas
The Second - Grammar Star
The Third - A Not-So-Silent Scream
The Fourth - I Just Have to Get This Off My Chest
The Fifth - Child Bride
The Sixth - The New Mr. & Mrs. Bionic Man
The Seventh - Two Embarrassing Moments: Doctor's Office Edition
The Eighth - My Very First Embarrassing Moment
The Ninth - Photogenic
The Tenth - I'm Not a Creepy Lady
The Eleventh - Innocents Abroad