I was sitting at my laptop, writing a blog post when my 19-year-old daughter spoke up from the next room. “Justin Bieber got arrested,” she said.
“Good,” I answered, without so much as a pause. And then I said it, the sentence that I would almost instantly regret: “That kid is worthless.”
All things considered, Justin Bieber is not worthless. Granted, within the span of a month, he has: caused several thousand dollars’ worth of damage to his neighbor’s property, been in possession of narcotics, and now put countless innocent lives at risk while drag-racing under the influence in Miami. His actions as of late have certainly demonstrated a lack of virtue. He has been disrespectful, immature, and downright bratty. Even without knowing him personally, I think one can safely assume that he lacks humility, gratitude and even a shred of respect for authority. Worthless though? I’m afraid not.
As I have matured as a mom, I’ve pinpointed several truths that I want my children to be so deeply rooted in that they would never think to question. One of those truths is that every single human being on this Earth has value—from the leader of the free world, all the way down to the homeless beggar under the bridge. I’ve also tried to nurture the belief that every sin is forgivable. And then—by saying what I said about Justin Bieber—I proved otherwise in the span of four little words.
It was definitely one of those mom moments that I wish I could do over. Given that luxury, I would have acknowledged Justin Bieber’s grievous mistakes. I would have pointed out that his actions have hurt and/or put a whole sphere of people at risk. I still would have applauded the fact that the boy is in jail and I probably would have made a strong case for deportation. But I would have stopped short of using a word that I truly don’t believe applies to any human being, no matter the circumstance: worthless.
I used to think that the hardest part of motherhood was the physical exhaustion, and it’s true; all of those sleepless nights spent rocking crying babies are definitely trying. Now that I’m parenting young people, I have an entirely different perspective on what the single most difficult aspect of motherhood is. That is, living a life so scrutinized by those impressionable young eyes.
Most of the time, I say what I mean and mean what I say. Every once in a while, though, I slip. My quick tongue gets ahead of my not-so-quick brain. When that happens, the only meaningful way I’ve found to recover is to own up to being wrong. That, in part, is the inspiration behind the words you’re reading right now. This is me admitting I was wrong. I think it’s a lesson a certain young Canadian would benefit from, don’t you agree?