Failing at Flossing… and Other Exercises in Humility

Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent

There are very few degrees of shame that surpass a parent at the pediatric dentist office. Of course we brush twice a day, flossing on the other hand…. I know they need more help but some mornings we barely make it out of the house with both shoes on the right feet. When I had to cancel an upcoming appointment for the kids (due to a legitimate conflict), I was relieved to procrastinate on this exercise in humility for just a little longer. 

I feel for the mom in today’s Gospel. She gets a bad rap. She comes off desperate, like the parents who are willing to pay their kids way into an Ivy League school.  The other disciples are “indignant”, quick to judge her actions and feel self-righteous that they would never stoop so low. But I do want my kids to be successful, confident, and kind. Right now that desire manifests itself in driving all over to activities, taking them to every science center and history museum we can find, and spending time with people I admire and respect. 

As my kids get older, there are more and more opportunities for me to remember that they are not simply “mini me” versions of Jason and me. I can drill spelling words and multiplication tables, but I cannot make the concepts “click” for them. Nor can I measure up to their creativity and ingenuity. Sometimes I am so fearful or coloring outside the lines, that I do not allow myself to really dream. My kids constantly challenge my own measures of success, for myself and for them. Each day is a lesson in humility, as I learn to appreciate them as individuals even more. 

But if I am truly being honest with myself, how different am I from the mother in the Gospel?  If I saw a chance for my kids to do something radically meaningful with their lives, wouldn’t I be just as desperate to grab that opportunity?

Published by jencoito

Jen Coito is a California native with diverse experience in parish, academic, and national ministry settings. She has a Masters in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University. She worked for the California Province of Jesuits for seven years promoting Christian Life Community on university campuses and other diverse ethnic settings. Jen has collaborated on the creation of formation materials, discernment tools, and small group processes that are being used around the country in Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and English. In 2013, Jen and Jesuit priest Fr. Tri Dinh co-founded Christus Ministries out of a desire to engage local young adults and form young-adult friendly parishes. Jen works for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California as the Associate Director of Mission Advancement. Jen, Jason, and their three children live in Southern California. You can read more of Jen's writings at

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