We all know there's no such thing as a perfect mother. These days, I think we all sort of go into the game knowing that and, still, it's hard for new parents to realize all the ways they're going to screw up. It's harder still to know ahead of time that those screw ups, either immediately or in the long run, are going to be profoundly funny. I have so many mom screw ups I can't help but laugh at, even if it takes me a few minutes, hours, months, or even years to find them remotely funny.
The funniest mom screw ups, in my experience, come in two varieties. First are the screw ups that are funny only with the passage of time and insight. It's your present self laughing hysterically at your past self. (This will be familiar to anyone who has gone through a photo album from high school and found a picture of themselves wearing Jncos and a baby doll shirt.) The second are the moments that are completely normal in your parenting life, but which you realize are absurd in literally any other context.
Whichever parenting "screw up" moments you experience (and, yes, it will be both), I can assure you they will be bountiful and provide you hours and years of delighted entertainment. Some of my personal favorites include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
When I Said "When I'm A Parent, I'll Never..."
Guys, this is basically like a witch's curse that will ensure you will do whatever it was you swore you wouldn't do. Barring extraordinary examples, never say never. Trust me, your post-child pride will thank you for not having to eat such an enormous slice of humble pie.
When I Packed My Hospital Bag
I honestly don't know when I was thinking when I packed my hospital bag. However, apparently I thought I was going to have time to write in my journal, read a book, work on my novel (no, I'm not joking), put on makeup, do my hair, or wear a cute new outfit every day during my hospital stay. Yeah, pre-baby me was obviously very ambitious about what one could accomplish with a newborn on hand (and, in my case, constantly on the boob).
When I Allowed Other Parents' Comments To Get To Me
It's easy for this to happen, right? New parents learn very quickly that they don't know all that much about babies or being a parent. So when a judgmental "been-there-done-that" moms give you side-eye, it's like like, "Oh no, they think I'm doing something wrong. They're judging me! And they know what they're talking about! They've been a mom for years! I'm failing already."
Here's why I laugh, though: five-and-a-half years in and I still don't know WTF I'm doing at least half the time. So now, in retrospect, I realize those other parents probably knew their kid, but definitely didn't know mine, have selective memories, or just had no idea WTF they were talking about.
It's right and proper that we should all gain confidence as we grow in our lives as mothers, but let's remember never to get cocky or condescending. Nobody wants to be that mom. We all eventually laugh at her.
When I Dropped Food On My Baby's Head
When you babywear as much as I did (especially when my children were newborns and wanted to be held constantly), you're going to eventually have to eat. Unless one lives exclusively on granola bars and hand-held fruits, you're going to drop food on your baby's head, too. In fact, you're probably going to drop a lot of food on your baby's head. Here are some things that I've had to wash off my children: peanut butter and jelly, salad, the gelatinous part of a tomato, all varieties of crumb, spaghetti sauce, quinoa, kale, and ice cream.
You name it, I've either wiped (or licked) it off my kids' noggins. Moral of the story: just don't eat or drink anything too hot while babywearing and you can laugh about it later.
When I Left The House With Less Than Three Diapers...
This is especially true when your baby is little, but it's basically true for as long as they're not potty trained. Life can get in the way of your plans and you just never know how long you will actually be out for. Maybe you'll return home as planned. Maybe you'll wind up in a ton of traffic. Maybe you'll find yourself amid the first stirrings of the zombie plague that will wipe out humanity. Or, you know, maybe you'll change your child only to find out he or she wasn't done pooping and now you have to change them three seconds after and now you're down to one diaper.
Here's a good rule of thumb: think of how many diapers you will reasonably need in an outing. Now go ahead and add five more. Don't forget a corresponding number of wipes (I find a five to one ratio works well).
...Or A Spare Outfit
It's basically ensuring a blow out otherwise. Like, if you bring the outfit you won't use it, but if you forget it? Poop eeeeeeeeeeeverywhere. An extra outfit is like an anti-poop talisman.
When I Bought Quantities Of Newborn Clothes
This certainly varies from child to child, but in my case I wound up with two big babies who, for the most part, never fit into newborn clothes. Instead we skipped right to the 3 month stuff and quickly moved to 3-6 months. I can't help but laugh when I think back to when I excitedly plucked anything off the shelf labeled "NB," thinking, "Can you believe that they're going to be this tiny?" Yeah, that never happened.
When I Thought All Babies Eventually Eat And Sleep On A Set Schedule
This just makes me want to giggle. Oh bless your heart, old me. The funniest part is that I believed this for way longer than I should have. I was like, "OK, he's figuring out what works and he'll eventually settle into a routine!" Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking. From birth to today, my son's feeding schedule is basically "Whenever the eff I feel like it." I can't fault him, because I'm a bit of a grazer myself, so it's funny I ever thought his schedule would magically conform into something that would be convenient for me.
When I Thought "There's No Way My Baby Can Get Out Of That Crib"
Here's the funny about children: they can't do certain things until they can, and that switch often flips suddenly and without warning. The hilarity of remembering the time I woke up to find my 11 month old staring at me is equal only to the horror I felt in the moment.
When I Left My Toddler Alone With Pizza
Even if the pizza is tucked away in the fridge, dear reader, because my daughter is going to find that pizza and she is going to eat it. Even though she already had, like, two slices, she's going for at least one more. If you tell her to put the pizza down, she will shove it in her face and reply, "Just a second, OK?"
(Not gonna lie, I was more than a little proud of her, too.) #mommysgirl #eatallthepizza
When I Forgot The Animals At The Petting Zoo Can "Pet" Back
"Kid's can't be harmed in any way by the animals in a petting zoo!" I blithely thought. "It's a petting zoo!"
Well, the animals have know idea where they are, they have signed no contracts, and they DGAF about your child. That is how, in the September of 2013, my son had his finger pecked by a turkey.
Now, certainly the boy came to no egregious harm. There was no broken skin, even. However, the psychological scars of what is no referred to as "The Turkey Incident" are seared into my child's memory to the point that, even now, he talks about the, "The turkey that bit my finger." For a while, he would bring this up at least once a day. This "traumatic" incident is one of his two first memories. Yes, I feel a little bad, but I find that absolutely hilarious.
When I Forgot Children Are Parrots
If you don't want your children to say swear words, don't say any swear words around them ever. Sure, it may take them months to learn "mama" and years to learn "thank you," but it will take one time only for them to learn, repeat, and internalize "f*ck."
Fortunately we learned this with the word "damnit," which isn't bad at all, but it seriously only took the one time (we were always so diligent about watching any semblance of a potty mouth). Though, I'm not going to lie — seeing a small child curse is hilarious.
When I Watched My Child Flip Off Of A Swing
My partner was pushing our 2 year old on the "big kid" (backless) swings and she was doing super well. She was feeling confident and squealed "higher!" We were feeling confident and obliged, which resulted in a pretty stunning front flip into the wood chips below. Oops.
At first this was absolutely terrifying, but only for a minute as she cried. Then she dusted herself off and said, "OK, we try again." After that it was just really, really funny. Better a broken bone than a broken spirit, as they say.
Guys, I'm not even six years into this whole parenting thing. I look forward to checking in regularly with continued screw ups that will no doubt prove entertaining.