When you feel like you’re screwing up as a mom or dad, it weighs on you. I’ve personally spent many a sleepless night worrying over something I’m sure I’m missing the mark on, or something I think I failed at when it comes to my kids. Your kid’s well-being is always at the top of your priority list, and when something isn’t right or doesn’t go smoothly, it’s all you can think about.
The good news is, whatever you’re currently stressing over is usually not as important as you think it is in the moment. But trying to remember this at 2 AM? When your complete and utter failure to achieve Mom of the Year-status is impeding on your sleep cycle? It ain’t easy.
It’s okay to feel these things deeply — it just means you care. But in the grand scheme of things, most of your minor (and self-prescribed) imperfections won’t make or break your kid. In fact, letting your child in on the secret that hey, you’re not perfect, is probably a good thing, because it gives them permission to be human, too.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters — and I mean really, truly matters — is how much our kids know that they are loved, cared for, and supported, even if we fall short once in awhile.
Here to remind you of that fact are seven common parenting “failures” that you’ve probably beating yourself up over lately.
1. They were late for school.
Being late is not ideal; but sometimes, it happens anyway. Depending on where you live, morning traffic can be absolutely barbaric. So can getting young kids out the door in a seamless manner. Of course, the eternal hope of every parent is that being late even just a handful of times will help your children understand the importance of cooperation in the morning. But if not, don’t let your own guilt at your kid being five minutes late ruin your entire day. Shake it off and plan to do better tomorrow.
2. You forgot to buy something they needed.
The nagging guilt at forgetting something your kid needs for school or extracurriculars is the worst. You don’t want them to be unprepared or embarrassed because you forgot something. When this arises, apologize to your child and remind them that you’re human. Maybe speak to the coach/instructor/teacher and hope they are forgiving. But whatever you do, don’t let your kid take the heat. Fessing up to your own mistake will make you feel better knowing that your child isn’t being held responsible for your overworked, totally frazzled parent brain.
3. Their project was the worst one in class. (Because you didn’t realize the parents were all doing them.)
Honestly, this isn’t even something to feel badly about, but chances are, you still will. School work should be age-appropriate enough that children can complete it without an exhausting or frustrating efforts or without their parents doing it for them. But these days, sh*t is competitive. And when your kid walks into kindergarten with a lovely little scribble drawing and the other projects are on those super serious-looking tri-fold boards you used in high school for the science fair, it doesn’t sit right. Let your child know that their work is 100% their own and they should be proud of it.
4. You completely spaced on a lesson/practice/rehearsal.
I’ll admit this one doesn’t happen to me too often because my kids’ schedules are pretty ingrained into my brain. But once in awhile, my brain misfires. Suddenly, I don’t even remember what day of the week it is — until I start making dinner and my husband walks in the door asking, “Why aren’t you at [insert weekly kid obligation #5,068 here].”
It’s an awful feeling that your kid missed something because of you. But in many cases, our kids are over-scheduled as all hell. They probably enjoyed the break. At least that’s what you can tell yourself when you’re slugging your wine a little quicker because of guilt. Pure guilt.
5. You said the completely wrong thing, at a completely bad time.
This happens to the best of us. Sometimes our kids are needing our support and all we’re seeing is their rude, defiant or nasty behavior as a result of how they’re feeling. So we snap at them when they need a hug or send them to their room when they are fragile and want to talk — and it all seems to happen right when they need us the most.
It’s never too late to apologize when you realize your mistake, which most likely, you will realize as soon as the room gets quiet and you can think straight again.
6. You fed them a crappy dinner.
Whether all the vegetables in the fridge were moldy or you just totally didn’t have time to shop today, I’m here to tell you that yes, serving up delivery pizza or boxed cereal for dinner once in awhile is not the end of the world. Yes, it feels wonderful to make a healthy meal that your kids actually enjoy, and it’s awesome to feel like you fueled them up in the best possible way at the end of a long day. But with the busy lives and schedules we’re maintaining these days, it’s not always happening seven nights a week.
Let go of the fact that you’re not making mouth-watering gourmet dinners every night; because chances are, your kids probably already have.
7. They watched TV for too long.
You had to take an important phone call … you weren’t feeling top-notch … it was just too damn cold and icky outside, and you were sick of everyone trashing the house. Whatever the reason, leaving the TV on for an extra half-hour or so is probably not going to do irreversible damage, unless it’s a constant. When you’re sitting on the floor later doing puzzles with your kids, you can make sure their brains weren’t totally melted by Ever After High. Maybe read an extra book or two before bed.
Whatever you do, just remember to go easy on yourself. Because in the end, it all evens out. (I promise.)