The mistakes we make as parents are not uncommon. That’s right. Those shame inducing, potentially scar producing bloopers you don’t even want to think about have happened to most parents. We just don’t hear about these stories because they don’t make for cute Instagram captions.
- Potty mouth: After a lifetime of reaching for a favorite swear word for a stubbed toe, it was hard to rewire my brain simply because I’d given birth. Then I watched as my daughter, 18 months old, big brown eyes, chubby cheeks, dropped her security blanket into a puddle. She looked down, stomped her glitter Croc and delivered my favorite four-letter word with the comfort and expertise of Ozzy Osbourne himself. Since then my go-to expletive is “monster trucks!”
- Avoidable injury: Every honest parent has a horror story. If your kids have never rolled off the bed, gotten a goose egg from a door frame, or walked straight into a table corner, then consider yourself lucky (or question your partner’s credibility). All I can suggest is to keep ice packs on hand and snap a picture of the thing from which they fell (my pediatrician appreciates this).
- Being completely unprepared: I went to my youngest daughter’s week old checkup without a diaper bag. One of my girlfriends sent her four year old to Grandma’s for the weekend without undies or pajamas. I’m not proud, but I’ve showed up to a playdate at the park without sunscreen or snacks. Then there’s the 3 am fever when you’re fresh out of Infant Motrin. Thank goodness for Target and Postmates.
- Not taking them seriously: When I was a kid I had a seizure disorder that went undiagnosed for years. Every day I told my mom that when the sun shone through the trees my hands twitched. Every day she told me to take an Advil. Now, I’m not shaming my Mom. Since I became a mother, I understand this blooper and am guilty of it to a lesser degree. “She’s fine! It’s just the sniffles!” Two days later my body aches, my head hurts, I feel dizzy and (of course) I have the sniffles. None of the worst are symptoms that can be articulated by a 2 year old. I didn’t neglect her, I provided the all night cuddles and morning Popsicles she demanded. Then again I mocked and resented her behind her back. She isn’t aware of the mocking and resentment, but try explaining that to my conscience during my midnight shower cries.
- Fashion faux pas: Shoes too big causing stumbles, accidentally dressing them in little sibling’s undies, underestimating the day’s high temperature; we’ve all been there. Headbands for daughters are a precious accessory for otherwise androgynous-looking babies. Once I heard an unusual cry from the back seat. When I parked, I realized the headband fell down over her eyes and my little blue-eyed love looked like a Star Trek character. No more headbands for car rides, noted.
The purpose of my candor is to offer comfort and solidarity to my fellow parents because kids are clumsy and we all make mistakes. This doesn’t mean that we are bad parents. All I ask is that you pay it forward by telling your own story when a new Mom shares their shame with you. Cheers, friends.