She handed them to me. A pile. A small cluttered stack. Papers. Colored, crossed out, written on. Busywork from most of the service's duration. She had kept herself busy beside me in the pew.
"Here Mommy," she whispered as the pastor closed his prayer. "These are for you. These are my mistake ones. I'm giving my good ones to my friends." She nodded toward a small pile of carefully colored papers sitting beside her.
"Oh." I said. And I took her little stack of mistakes. "Okay. Thanks." She grinned and scooted out of the pew and off to distribute her artistic wares as the service ended. And part of me, the small shallow part of me, was wounded.
Her mistakes. That's all I was good for. Her leftovers. Not the ones she felt good about, but the ones she couldn't give to her friends. Those were mine to have. I shuffled through them. Misspelled words in her awkward 5-year-old hand. Places where she'd accidentally colored out of the lines. One was torn where she'd pulled it from her coloring book a little too hastily. These were mine. I sighed. And then paused.
These were mine.
She gave me her mistakes.
Not because she thought I, her mom, deserved less than her best, but because she knew I could be trusted with her flaws. That I wouldn't judge her. That the bar was not set too high for these to be safely deposited into my care. I gathered them carefully together and pressed them to my heart. Her mistakes.
I would keep them. Tuck them away so I wouldn't forget. This is what it means to be someone's mom: To love what is, in all of its imperfection, over what could be in all of its potential. To revel in the thought more than the thing, and the giver more than the gift.