There are a million ways to be a good parent, but how each of us goes about it is unique to us and our families. Of course, there are a million ways to "mess up" as a parent, too. While it can be difficult to admit that you've made a mistake (hello, judgment and shame) in the parenting department, there are so many lessons we learn when we mess up as parents.
Parenting fails are definitely the worst. No one likes to admit when they're wrong, or when they've messed up of fallen short of their own (or anyone else's) expectations. But being a parent is so hard and there's no way that any of us will emerge from this journey unscathed. The best thing we can do is learn to take notes when we falter because, yes, that will happen.
Making a parenting mistake isn't just an inevitable thing, it can also be a pretty great thing. The lessons we learn from the mistakes we make are invaluable. They sting a little, sure, and they make us feel incompetent and incapable and ill-equipped, but they're important nonetheless. While some parenting mistakes aren't as bad as you think, others definitely leave an emotional mark on us, but it's important to work through all of them with a mind that is open to learning. So, if you feel like you've fallen short as a mother, try not to beat yourself up, because we all have and we all will. There are just some lessons you can't possibly learn unless you've messed up as a parent before.
Parents And Kids Both Need Rest
When you're running on just a few hours of rest, you're not exactly functioning at full capacity mentally, emotionally, or physically, so how can you be expected to execute your parenting perfectly? Just like toddlers and babies get cranky when they don't get enough rest, so do adults, so by acknowledging that you aren't quite super-human (super close, but not quite), and that you do need rest, you will be able to take better care of yourself for both you and your baby.
Kids Absorb Everything
There wouldn't be the saying "kids are like sponges" if there wasn't some truth to it. Well, there's not just some truth to it, there's a lot of truth to it. Kids are constantly watching our every move. Every reaction we have and every word we say and everything we do is being dissected by our children.
Our Kids Constantly Need Our Nurturing And Our Attention
When you're taking care of your kids 24/7, it's easy to lose focus from time to time. If you're stuck in a redundant routine (which parenting can be), you might not be as hyper aware of your kids and their needs as you typically are, so it's understandable that your unwavering attention and nurturing might, well, waver. It happens. Whether that realization comes in the form of a child acting out emotionally, or even shying away from you because they feel neglected, neither are reasons to beat yourself up but are, instead, valuable cues that you might need to take notice of how they're feeling.
We Shouldn't Focus So Much On Miniscule Things
Of course, we all want to have clean dishes and laundry and sheets and houses, but if you've got kids, those things are at the very bottom of the totem pole of importance. Kids make messes. They're sticky and sloppy, and they have this insane ability to turn a spotless room into a hazardous zone, but as their parents, we need to recognize that there are much more important things in our lives than spotless houses (i.e. that adorable tornado that just wrecked your living room).
Our Kids Are Still Learning And It's Our Job To Teach Them
Our kids don't yet know the difference between what is right and what is wrong, or what is and is not appropriate behavior. We can't fault them for making mistakes when they aren't even aware that they're making a mistake in the first place. They're born with a clean slate, and it's our job to help them fill in the blanks as they grow older, not berate them for not being omnipotent.
Emotions Should Be Acknowledged, Not Dismissed
Sure, kids can be a little irrational at times. I mean, I've seen my toddler yell at his shoe for not fitting him before, but instead of losing my cool myself, I tried to understand that he was just frustrated. There are plenty of adults walking around without so much as an ounce of emotional maturity, so it's really not fair for us to ridicule our kids for expressing their feelings. When we scold them for throwing fits or getting frustrated or sad or angry, we're basically telling them that it's not OK to have feelings, which is only going to cause them more harm in the long term. They need to understand that it's OK to express themselves, and that they should feel comfortable doing so with their parents.
It Only Takes A Split Second For Something To Go Wrong
People like to point fingers when unfortunate events occur. Judgmental statements like, "Where was their mother?" or, "Their parents should have known better," are thrown around with reckless abandon, but the truth is that it only takes a split second for something to go wrong when you've got kids. Everything, literally everything, could cause a catastrophe, and unless you wrap your child in bubble wrap and contain them in a hidden bunker somewhere, there's a good chance that they'll eventually come across something that could cause them harm. There's no way to avoid every "what if," but if we just acknowledge that hidden dangers are out there, we're better equipped and more capable of protecting our children.
None Of Us Are Perfect, So There's No Sense In Trying To Be
Every single parent in the history of parenting has messed up at some point (read: many points) while raising kids. We all do, and there's really no avoiding it. Don't try to be perfect and don't try to live up to the ridiculous expectations society places on parents. You will never be perfect at this game, and accepting that now will save both you and your child from a lot of unnecessary angst.