Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine


Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine

The Messy in My Best

Susan Schreer Davis, contributing writer and Voice of Hope for the mito community and all those seeking inspiration in their day-to-day lives. Follow along each week at, and on social media.

We live in a broken world. Bridges collapse. Tornados spin. Cars wreck. And then people pick up the pieces. Time and time again.

So why a host of us are driven by an overzealous need for perfection is beyond me. Yet we are.

When my boys were young, the day only felt complete if I picked up their toys each night. Don’t get me wrong. My house wasn’t—and still isn’t—a place of pristine beauty. But something drove me to try and piece the messy together before rest would still my mind.

I gave up in time. Fighting my first husband’s brain tumor jumpstarted a perspective shift. But over twenty years later, I still wrestle with the notion that I should get far more right than wrong.

A recent reminder made me smile.

While working with a voice student, I opened a book of folk songs, recognized my scribble on the back page, and read, “Do you really believe they’re going to think you’re a bad mother just because you accidentally shaved my head? What’s wrong with you?”

It took a second to register, but then, one of my worst memories surfaced.

It started innocently enough. My rising senior in high school, who also has mito, asked me to buzz his hair. Familiar with the routine, Sam moved a stool onto our covered back porch while I fetched the clippers. After wrapping a towel around his neck, I went to work.

Standing in front of him, I lifted the blade and buzzed a line that started in middle of his forehead and continued straight back. But when I shook out his loosened thick hair, I gasped in horror. A bald stripe announced I’d forgotten to put a guard on the blade.

Overwhelmed, I tried to come up with some way to remedy the situation. But Sam pointed out, “You just have to finish. Shave the rest. There’s no other option.”

So, if a recent parent fail has paralyzed your insides, imagine sending your senior in high school to school totally bald because you flaked out.

There’s just a messy in our best.

We try. Fail. Try again. We get it right. Lose our temper. Forgive. Move on. We clean. Live. And then clean some more.

The cycles never end. Messes coincide with living.

Thus, my son’s question haunts me still, “Do you really believe they’re going to think you’re a bad mother just because you accidentally shaved my head?”

Yes, Sam, that’s exactly what I thought. And all these years later, a longing to control other’s perception of me can still trap my soul. But thankfully, not nearly as much.

I’m not going to get it all right. I’m going to let others down and even say the wrong thing. But I’m also determined to honor others, to walk in forgiveness, and to make my small difference in this world.

Cause there’s a messy in my best—and that’s okay.

About the Author: Susan Schreer Davis lives with her husband, their cat named, Eggs, and the challenging effects ofmitochondrial disease. Learn more about Susan, her latest book and many songs at:

Carolyn V

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