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Emily Watts

July 19, 2011

It was Sunday morning, and as usual I was hurrying to get everyone fed and dressed and shod (why are shoes always the hardest part?) and off to church. I was feeling a certain degree of mother-smugness because I had made pancakes for breakfast rather than resorting to the norm of cold cereal, but it takes time and patience to do pancakes for a family, and by the time I had taken care of everyone else’s pancake needs I was running a little thin on both. So as they were finishing up and leaving the table, I dumped the rest of the pancake batter into the frying pan so that I would have only one big pancake to attend to in the rush—easier to flip, to plate, to eat.

My little Sunbeam checked in to have her shoes buckled while I was sitting at the table eating that last pancake, and she fell apart immediately, wailing, “I want a big pancake! I want a big pancake!” There was nothing I could do, even after giving her a bite of it, to persuade her that my pancake was essentially just the same as hers. Seeing that there was clearly no way of winning this battle, I hurriedly finished up my pancake and got everyone dressed and we got out of there.

When my husband and I stopped by the Primary room after church to pick up the kids, our daughter’s teacher started laughing the moment she saw us. I HATE it when that happens because I know it means that yet another of our family’s secrets has been revealed to the outside world. The teacher composed herself and told us, “She was so sad all morning, and when I finally asked her why, she sobbed, ‘My mom got the biggest pancake!’”

Herein lies one of the great dilemmas of motherhood. You can do your very best, getting up early to make a wonderful breakfast for your family, putting your own needs off until everyone else is taken care of, rushing through things to keep the family on track, and there are still going to be people (including your own children) who don’t get it. All they see is the self-centered mom who got the biggest pancake.

It’s yet another in the long list of reasons why we should never try to judge each other’s efforts—because we never have access to the full back story. I’m convinced that one of the great tasks of life is to become comfortable enough with our own motives that we stop worrying about what other people are going to think. Yup, I got the biggest pancake that day, and you know what? All things considered, I’m all right with that.