Test of strength

You know that cool girl in high school who everyone clamored to sit by at lunch?  The one who made everything just look easy? The one who made everybody laugh? The one who effortlessly entertained everyone?

Yeah, I thought so.

Well, at the blogoshere lunch table, her name is Jen and she’s hanging out here today. She’s come by to share a small moment with her son, a small moment of connection and pride.

Now here’s where I point you to her blogs, The Martha Project and The Gift that Keeps on Giving (once you get to know her, you might find out about another deliciously diabolical blog). I could tell you to be sure to read More than 7 reasons I suck at Blogging and watch her So I can’t make Fried Corn Balls, what’s new vlog.  But, I’d rather point you to her best bits.  You’ll find those if you follow Jen, known as The Next Martha, on Twitter.

Here’s a good one:

I’m also fond of this one:

And my favorite recent tweet:

Thank you, Jen, for making me laugh on a ridiculously regular basis and for sharing your small moment with us.  I truly appreciate you.

Test of Strength — by Jen

My son takes karate.  He loves it.  Because he loves it, I support it.

He tests to move up levels every 6 months.

At one test, I accidentally brought him to the wrong time slot for his rank.  Instead of having us leave, they let him test with the group that was already there.

The time slot was for beginning white belted children.  This is their first belt testing.   Though Braden is not a pro-tester this is probably the 3rd time he has done it.  The room is filled with about 150 spectators of parents looking on at their kids first testing.

Then there’s me.  I’m there too.  Feeling like a loser because my son is the only child with stripes amongst the white belts.  This clearly yells “HELLO WRONG TIME ” to the audience.

The children are divided into groups.  There were 15 groups of 3 children each.  My son was placed in the last group.  One child from each group tests at a time which means fifteen kids test together in front of a panel of judges.

White belts testing for the first time only have to do the first 7 steps of a kata.   Once they get to the last group they have my son sit back.  Then it dawns on me.  All these kids only have to do 7 steps.  Braden is going to have to prove he knows all 21 steps.

“How is that going to work?”

Then I saw.  I exhaled and closed my eyes, disappointed in my time mistake.

There in front of ALL the judges, 150 parents, PLUS all the students who have completed their test was my son.  He was told that he was going to do his testing by himself.  He was 7 years old.

And my heart broke because it was my fault that we were at the wrong time.  If he had been at the right time he would have tested WITH a group, not solo.

I almost expected him to turn around and look at me with tears in his eyes.  I wouldn’t have blamed him.   They were already in mine.

He could have just not gone through with it and ran to me.

I was ready for him, but he didn’t.

The judges called out each thing that they needed him to do.

Each time he did it with everyone in the room with their eyes on him.

The last step is to do the whole kata.

He does them without making a mistake, he bows and then is excused to sit.

I sit there and watch him.   My heart is overflowing.  I am so proud.

Even though I made a mistake I was awarded witness to such poise from my child.

In that precious moment.

*When my husband asked me what I was doing I told him I was writing about a “small meaningful moment”

He said “Good luck pulling that out of your black soul”


  1. andygirl

    this is why I want to be a parent. every time I say this, people always tell me to borrow their kid for a couple days and then I'll change my mind for sure. which breaks my heart. I never understand how people think their children are capable of such terror to scare a woman away from motherhood. I know kids are tough and unpredictable and challenging. they're kids. they're supposed to be.

    but this is why. because kids blow you away with all their heart, all they're capable of. and moms who cherish that warm my soul, renew my faith in humanity.

    thanks for this post. I needed to read something positive today.

  2. SquashedMom

    That is simply awesome. I am amazed and impressed by your son's poise and sense of self confidence. And that last line? A delicious kicker. Lovely SMM, thanks!

  3. Alexandra174

    I love Mr Next Martha as much as I love the Mrs.

    Yeah, her tweets rock.

    signed, MVP of TheNextMartha tweets
    Officially Bestowed Title

    So cool to see Jen here, Nichole. And she probably did enjoy pulling that one out of her dark soul, since we all know Jen would make out with Halloween if she could.

  4. Elizabeth Flora Ross efloraross.com

    Aw. I was proud of your little guy reading this! What a trooper! And I happen to know, despite how hard to try to disprove it, that you do not have a black soul, Jen. ;)

  5. DAMN YOU JEN. You made me cry at work. This is not unusual for me to do but usually not because of something you said…unless you count tears of laughter.

  6. Lisa ohboyohboyohboy.com

    OMG Jen, even in a sweet post you leave me literally LAUGHING OUT LOUD at the end. I love these moments where our kids are just such amazing little people!!! congrats to him.

  7. TheHeirtoBlair theheirtoblair.com

    oh, Jen. This is why I love you.

  8. I remember those mistakes and being so mad at myself that I couldn't swallow, my throat was so tight.

    Life can be so hard for a child anyway.

    Compounding it with my mistakes makes me angry at myself like I seldom am.

  9. Allison @ Alli n Son alli-n-son.com

    Ok, wow. That is so amazing. I think that I would have cracked under the pressure, as an adult nit as a child. What a wonderful thing to witness.

  10. Oh, that is an awesome moment! It is so amazing when they pull things out like that & really blow your mind. :) I've had moments like that where I've screwed up and now my kid has to deal. I'm not fond of that gut-ripping-out feeling that it leaves me with.

    I really enjoyed this post! :)

  11. Mad Woman adiaryofamadwoman.com

    OMG, I'm in love. What I'm learning about parenthood from Nichole and all these wonderful mothers is that that child, while yes, he may have had great teachers coaches and classmates, his grace, determination and self confidence was all a result of the parenting he received at home. Pat your black heart on the back Jen, you did good.
    And dammit, why do even come to this blog without a tissue box handy.

  12. Natalie mommyofamonster.com

    Now see, I tweet with Jen all the time, but I never read her blog! Thanks Nichole, for making the introduction…this was a wonderful post and made me appreciate being a mom. I'm off to check out Jen's blog now :)

  13. @guiltysquid twitter.com/guiltysquid

    Well done, my friend. Well done.

    I knew you had it in you.

    I'm proud.

  14. ksluiter

    Well hell, Jen…now my eyes are filled with tears and my body with shivers. This was amazing and beautiful…I can't imagine how great it is for your child to surpass all expectations. I get the tingles and the tears when I watch my students perform and then I start to cry when I think of how great it will be when that child is MINE.

    Thank you for giving me that glimpse, Jen.

    Now…back to twitter where you will make me cry with laughter.

  15. Renee 2old2tap.blogspot.com

    Wonderful !

    I am so glad this worked out. Your son was awesome that day. And probably every other day too.
    I would have been so proud, the other parents would've been blinded by my smile.

    I'll bet a few went for eye exam after your smile too.

  16. Sherri oldtweener.blogspot.com/

    I hate, hate those moments when I screwed up and the kid has to pay for it somehow. And yet, most times they shine brighter than I would have imagined they ever could, in spite of me.

    This is just a wonderful moment, Jen. Took me back to my son's karate days a bit….and reminded me that we all screw up, but the kids pull us through.

  17. kris

    Oh, I love this.

    I try so hard to get everything right. I hate when I mess things up. Hate when my children have to deal with the consequences of my mistake.

    I too have had these moments . . .in which my daughters rise to the occasion and show me that they are truly going to be fabulous women.

    And that despite my mistakes?

    I am getting this mothering thing right. Most of the time.

    As are you.

    A lovely post . . . just lovely.

  18. Now I’ll be able to say I knew you *before* you were popular with tanned six-packs.

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