No matter how hard I try, I'm not a perfect parent. I've come to discover that I don't have to be perfect, however, and it's a good thing because I literally don't think it's possible. In my search for parenting perfection, I've realized there are more than a few parenting screw ups that actually made me a better mom.
From falling asleep on the job to forgetting about school science night, parenthood gives us opportunities to epically fail on a daily, unrelenting, and regular basis. The good news is we can often learn things about ourselves, our children, and being a parent from our mistakes that we could have never learned without screwing up. I am totally a better mom because I am not perfect. I don't expect perfection, I let my kids make mistakes, and I try to forgive myself when I mess up. It isn't easy, but it's totally worth it.
Life sometimes hands you more balls that you can juggle on your own (which seriously sucks when you're a single parent). Sometimes cars break down, people get sick, and dinner burns. The best laid plans fail and the best moms learn to be flexible, creative, and forgiving. I may be a hot mess who rarely gets things right the first time, but I have learned to pick myself up, learn from my mistakes, forgive myself, and move on.
I Fell Asleep With Baby
There's a reason that sleep deprivation is used as torture. I screwed up my first night home with my daughter when I feel asleep while holding her after hours of nursing, walking the halls, and begging her to sleep. The next day, I called the doctor, bought a bassinet, and tried to get a nap in. Live and learn.
I Made My Baby Cry
The first time I tried to clip my daughter's tiny baby nails, I totally made her cry and nearly passed out from the site of her bleeding. I called the pediatrician's office in tears. Her advice? Get a nail file. I haven't clipped baby nails since.
I Went Back To Work
I always intended to go back to work after maternity, but I didn't realize how horrible it would make me feel. Fortunately, after a few days of adjustment and more than a few tears, I realized that I loved my kids more and was a way better working mom, than I ever would have been if I had stayed home.
I Forgot To Pick Up My Kid From Daycare
This was one of those times when things could have been much, much worse, but I will never forget the day when I drove all the way home before I realized that I forgot to pick my daughter up from daycare. After that day, I made it a priority to double check plans with my partner and never let autopilot take over again.
I Insulted Myself
One of the saddest moments for me as a feminist mother was the day my daughter told me that her winter coat made her look fat. She was only 4-years-old. I realized that I unconsciously put myself down all of the time, insulting my body and talking about dieting and calorie-counting. After that, I made it a priority to never use fat as an insult (because it's totally not) and to talk about my body in terms of the things it can do and the fuel it needs to do those things.
I Forgot About A School Event
When my daughter had just started kindergarten, and I was just getting into the routine of school events and schedules, I screwed up a lot. I remember one evening I decided to pick her up from school in the jogging stroller after my daily run. I had totally forgotten that it was science night at school. I ended up throwing a hoodie over my running tights and sports bra and hoping that I didn't smell too bad. Since then, I have gotten way better at planning for scheduled events and having a sense of humor when things don't go as planned.
I Got A Divorce
I had always thought that marriage was forever, especially if you have kids. When I was taking the mandated co-parenting class before my divorce, it made me feel like the worst mother ever to hear that I was probably screwing up my kids. As it turns out, getting a divorce was the right choice for me and my kids. They are happy, healthy, and I'm a way better mom for it.
I Cried In Front Of My Kids
After leaving my now ex-husband, I did a lot of crying in front of my kids. I was a total mess. I remember the first time one of my kids comforted me and told me that everything was going to be OK. I felt terrible. I was supposed to be strong for them. I now know that showing my kids that I am human helps them learn that it's normal to feel sad and that everyone has a right to feel the way they feel.
I Let Them Make Mistakes
There was a time when I would run forgotten lunches and homework to the school or even run after them to deliver their mittens at the bus stop. Not anymore. I've realized that if I let my kids make mistakes, they will learn from them, just like I have. Natural consequences suck, but they definitely make for the best teachable moments. Moms aren't perfect and kids aren't either, and that's OK.