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I didn’t mean to.

This is the refrain of my children. Lila, in particular, apparently loses control of her body multiple times a day, piling up a stack of offenses against her brothers – none of which she ever means to commit.

Pulled Alex’s hair? Yes, but I didn’t mean to.

Push Asher in the gut? Yes, but I didn’t MEAN to.

Ran across the street to play in the neighbor’s yard without my permission? I didn’t. Okay, I did, but I didn’t mean to!


Piling the children into the car after a trip to the grocery store and the post office in ninety-degree heat, I buckled Evaline, arranged bags of groceries, answered about fifty questions (which primarily focused on when they could have a snack, what the snack would be, could it be Popsicles? Could it be ice cream?) and as I checked my phone for a missed call, we pulled out of the parking lot.

Mom! Alex hollered as I pulled to a red light.

I hadn’t buckled Asher.

As I scanned for a place to stop to strap in my three year old, a police car pulled behind me. It had no lights on and was not pulling me over, but my heart jumped and I imagined myself uttering an explanation to the officer as he checked to make sure my children were all properly fastened. I didn’t mean to.


In the past month, I have spoken to close friends or heard of instances of others, living with hurt and confusion. Marriages faltering. Friends, both newlyweds and partners who have been married for years. Drifting. Not meaning to, of course. No one means to fall out of love. No one means to let distraction turn into damage.

But here’s the thing – it’s no enough to not mean to do something, to unintentionally wound.

It’s not enough to look back over our shoulders and think, Well, if I had only been paying attention as our absentminded living results in a life that we aren’t fully present in, in children who think that their parents are born with cell phones in their palms, who think if it’s not easy and instant, it’s too hard and not worth focusing on. And we wind up with marriages that run on auto-pilot, busy and unintentional with games on cell phones, work (work, work), DVR’d television, fantasy sports, fantasy-lives.

Blinking for a moment and looking clearly at the clutter of this whole huge world of mine, I have to ask myself:

Why am I not living daily, moment-by-moment, with meaning?

Do I want to wake up when I am an old woman with a husband who has slipped from me in my too-busy-with-life-fog and a tell-all book of my lackluster parenting written by my children on my nightstand?

Of course not, and of course, that’s not really going to happen (with the way technology is going, it’s not like I’d have a physical book anyway. It would obviously be scanned directly into my frontal lobe or something.)

But, my point is this:

My goodness, I only get one life, let me live like I DO mean it, let my words and my actions have intention and carry weight. Because they do, whether I imbue them with goodness and purpose or not.

Children of Mine – We all have control of our bodies and our choices. Make better ones.

Friends with spouses – This is probably a whole other blog post brewing, but be intentional with one another. Be purposeful, in holding hands, in listening, in date nights and in filling the quiet space between you with words and actions that keep you anchored to one another. We are like bodies at sea and without intention, we will drift.

Self – We all have control of our schedules and our choices. Make better ones.

(And, maybe try to buckle your children properly before pulling out onto a main road too.)


  1. Jan McTeague

    Sooooo well put, Melanie! I feel as though I live my life in a constant blur of activity. My mother keeps telling me to slow down, and she is right, as always, with her special gift of knowing what’s been best for me my whole life. It’s just amazing to recognize her special gift of insight coming through you. A very special inheritance indeed! I think it’s wonderful that you reflect on the things that are important, you’re a truly amazing woman, mother, daughter, niece, sister friend, wife, etc., etc.,etc.!!! Love you!!

  2. So funny, because in a fit the other day Miriam said “but I can’t stop crying! I can’t control myself!” I stopped, turned around, and said with all seriousness that we have complete power over our own bodies. “Remember that,” I said. She still cried until I told her that her new polly pocket airplane would end up in the goodwill pile (and I meant it). That stopped it . Amazing that power that comes up out of nothing. 🙂

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