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Mother’s Day Oops!

Oops: My definition: “Uh oh, I didn’t mean to do that and mom’s not going to be pleased.”

Oops: Google Definition: Used to show recognition of a mistake or minor accident, often as part of an apology. 

Nothing captures the essence of Mother’s Day more than the Mother’s Day Oops. Please let me explain. It’s the spark of innocence when a child attempts to do something special for their mother on Mother’s Day and it doesn’t quite go as planned. Whether you are a biological mother, an adoptive mother, an aunt, grandma or foster mom who has done the primary caregiving for a child, the Mother’s Day Oops, it’s likely a sign you are doing something right.

What is a Mother’s Day Oops? In my family, it happened when my son was ten years old and in our kitchen fixing me breakfast. He got up super early because he was so excited. At 6 am, I could hear him puttering in the kitchen. He created a beautiful platter with Mandarin orange slices individually broken apart and made into a nice arrangement, Wheat Thins crackers, cheese (two of my favorite things, by the way) and he was about to embark on an even bigger challenge—pancakes.

My son added eggs and water to the pancake mix and stirred it together. Everything was right on track. A few spills went over the bowl, but on the whole, everything was going well. The toast was ready from the toaster and the orange juice was poured. That’s when I heard it: the inevitable “oops,” also known as, “Uh oh, I didn’t mean to do that and mom’s not going to be pleased.”

Hearing that “oops” brought the biggest smile to my sleepy face. It warmed my heart knowing my son got up hours earlier than usual on a Sunday just to surprise me and go out of his comfort zone to create a treat me for me. Although it was not the first time, I felt proud of him.

Handling his dilemma with an “oops” told me that he knows he made a mistake and it’s not the end of the world. He accepted the error as a natural part of life. It showed that although things didn’t go as planned, he could say “oops,” be a little disappointed, and then try again. To me, it signified that my child lived in a safe, loving home.

We’ve all heard of the infamous “oops” in stories about children making breakfast for their parents. I’ve seen it happen in television shows and movies, but watching those won’t prepare you for the moment it happens to you. Your heart warms to know that a child cares about you enough to do their best to make you happy, even when it is outside of their expertise.

Mother’s Day is often highlighted by a brunch or a meal for mom, not made by mom. However, there are many ways a Mother’s Day Oops can occur. It could be running into a mother’s room with love and jumping on the bed to wake her up and accidentally bumping heads, or making a special birthday card and realizing some of the words are misspelled.

Listening to the “oops,” I had the unconditional love that a mother has for her child. It didn’t matter to me that the pancakes I was about to eat had probably touched the floor. It didn’t matter to me that it would probably take me longer to clean up than it would to eat breakfast. And yes, that’s after overseeing my child’s clean-up responsibilities, but let’s face it, most kids never quite achieve adult standards of clean! What matters is that my son made pancakes from scratch to show his appreciation that I am his mother.

Now that my son is college age, I can look back on these seemingly inconsequential moments and know that they are special moments of growth for the person he has become. The Mother’s Day Oops has become a poignant memory that makes me grin. The foibles of pancake making showed my son’s desire to appreciate someone besides himself, and I’m the lucky person he wanted to impress that day.

It’s important for children to receive love and support when they’re trying their best, especially when they don’t succeed. It’s giving them a ladder to self-worth. It’s letting them stumble and get up again. I may not have been hungry at 6 am, but I ate every morsel of that Mother’s Day breakfast and my heart grew a little with each one. I will forever hold the Mother’s Day Oops as one of my fondest moments.

Jennika Ingram is the author of “MOM’S TURN: A Journal For The First Year Of Motherhood & Stories To Stay Empowered.”


This essay was featured in the May 12th edition of Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper newsletter. The Sunday Paper is the paper of record for individuals who want to be Architects of Change, lead meaningful lives and Move Humanity Forward. To get inspiring and informative content like this essay delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.