It was not my finest hour.

At the end of three long days that involved taking our oldest son through doctors’ appointments, medical tests and travel, I came home to a messy kitchen. And I snapped. At least for me, the woman my husband calls the most patient person he knows, it was a “snap”. Maybe I just spoke firmly. Anyway, the target of my firm diatribe was another son, the one who’s living at home during the week and in Detroit on weekends so that he can help his dad keep up during a busy season in our business.

Never mind that my younger son had put in three long days himself, keeping the business running while my husband joined the rest of us for an important appointment at the hospital. Never mind that we were all tired, hungry and a little grumpy. Never mind that I sported the “Mom face” and an attitude that was less than pretty. I was entitled to a clean house and an empty dishwasher because I was doing the “big thing” in this season of helping his older brother heal.

Never mind? I did mind and so did my son.

Later in the evening, I poked my guilty face through his bedroom door and found out just how much influence I’ve had on this fella’s life. The guy graciously received my apology, but then (in all his millennial wisdom) he said this:

“Apologies are good, but there are just two things that really matter to me. (He ticked them off on his fingers.) Tone of voice and changed behavior.”

In other words, “You may be right, but you kind of blew it. Check your attitude and don’t do it again.”

Ouch. That sounded kind of familiar, kind of like his Mom on better days. He’d been listening. I had influence.

I left his room on good terms and as I collapsed on the sofa, I prayed that maybe I had just redeemed my less-than-stellar Mom attitude with another moment of influence. Because, sometimes even a very patient grown woman hits a wall and behaves poorly and needs to offer an apology. And maybe even in this, my influence will serve him well in some future less-than-stellar hour.

Because we all have them.

I wrote for five quick minutes today (more or less) on the one-word prompt “influence”. I’m linking up with other writers to share my post at Five Minute Friday.

Beyond those five minutes, I’d like to share a few words that I’ve been mulling over for the past week or so. In April, I was privileged to sit in on a conversation featuring the author and sage Parker Palmer. Recently, I came across an interview with podcaster and author Luke Norsworthy. It was so good that I took notes and added Palmer’s latest book (On the Brink of Everything) to my TBR list. It’s his 10th book (!) and I can’t wait to get to it.

Until then, these are the words I keep turning back to as our family takes an unexpected journey with one of our kids. It’s not easy and sometimes I want to pretend everything is fine, but this is a door we must walk through and a path we’re on together. There’s no time to “fake it” and just maybe if we’re honest about what we’re going through we can speak truth into the lives of others on a similar journey. Here’s a nugget of Palmer wisdom. Maybe it speaks to you, too:

“Be real, not a fraud. You’re not truly available when you put a mask on or live behind a wall. You’re not truly available to God. Feel at home in your own skin on the face of the earth. Show up as your true self.”

Parker Palmer

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