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My family has been lucky enough to not have to deal with the crazy morning rush. My wife gets up and out by seven. My stepdaughter gets up at seven then heads to the bus at eight and, Lord willing, my son is sleeping through all of it.

Spoiler alert: not every morning goes as planned. And on this particular morning, things went particularly awry.

On this particular morning, I had to drive my stepdaughter to school, so I threw on some quick clothes, splashed water on my face, brushed my teeth (another spoiler: I didn’t do the last two things) and was ready to get her off to school. Now, I just had to find my keys.

Not in my pockets? Okay, no problem. Let’s check yesterday’s pants (already did; I was wearing yesterday’s pants). Nothing there. Under the bed? Nope. Fifteen minutes later, the search goes from “Hm, can’t find my keys” to “holy [redacted], where are my keys?!”

Thus, it begins: me tearing the house apart looking for my car keys to send my kid to school. An hour later, I was in the code red stage of “I don’t think I’m ever going to find them.” I asked my wife if she’d accidentally taken them to work and she hadn’t. Now, my stepdaughter was late to school and I had no clue how to get her there. Neighbors were gone and I don’t have any family here to do it so I rattled my brain.

Then I thought about this one commercial that plays here where a son talks about how he never forgot about the time his dad carried him on his shoulder at a baseball game to get hot dogs. And the narrator reads something along the lines of “You never know which moment your child will remember forever.” And as soon as I remembered that commercial, I thought about how my kid would always cherish the day I paid for a taxi just to get her to school in the morning.

And then I thought about how I really didn’t want to spend 40 bucks to get my kid to school and passed on the idea. So there we were all day. Me at home looking for my keys with decreasing energy and an increasing sense of failure as the day went along and my stepdaughter in her uniform understanding that she was going to miss school because her stepdad messed up.

My kid missed school because I couldn’t find my keys. It was a day of bad parenting. A day I screwed up in front of her. I took it hard. And here’s why: I don’t remember my mom ever messing up when I was little.

My parents divorced when I was 11 and it was just my mom and I living together from then on. That’s when I saw her struggle, juggling working and raising a teenage son. That’s really when I saw that parenting can be difficult.

But before then? Before then, my mom was perfect. Not even in the way kids see past their parents’ flaws. I mean, I don’t even remember her forgetting to sign a single permission slip or forget to send me with lunch money or miss an event she told me she’d take me to. Will my stepdaughter remember the day her absent-minded stepdad couldn’t get her to school or how I got up from my work every 15 minutes to find a new place my keys could have been? I guess only time will tell. In the end, I hope my flaws as a parent only serve to illuminate how hard I try to raise my kids right in the end.

As for my keys? They were in my wife’s car all along. So send all hate mail to her at She’s expecting it.

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