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Screwing Up, Letting Go

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? 

Do you feel like you're screwing up all the time?You forgot to buy a present for a birthday party your child is attending so you stop by the store on the way. You forgot a gift bag, so your child’s gift is *wrapped* in a stylish store logo bag.

Your child forgot to tell you they needed a lunch for school today, so on the way to school you stop by the gas station, grab a pre-wrapped sandwich, a yogurt and a bottle of water.

Your child almost misses a field trip because you have the permission slip in your bag from three weeks ago.

Your husband is on a business trip, so you and the kids eat cereal for dinner.

After several months of telling your seven year old to scoot back from the television, you finally take her to have her eyes checked and discover she is blind as a bat and CAN’T see the screen. (This was me. I did this one.)

Have you ever pulled a smelly uniform from a gym bag, tossed it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet and threw it at your child on the way out the door?

Or, your child takes a little tumble and complains about his arm hurting. Since he’s still able to use it, this probably means it isn’t broken. Right? Wrong. Four days later and a trip to the ER confirms a break. (This was also me.)

Actually, these were all me and I felt horrible at the time. “I am such a bad mama!” “How could I embarrass them like this?” “This can’t be healthy for them!” “It can’t be broke, REALLY?”

When these things happen, whether it was due to our lack of planning, our children’s lack of planning or just life, we feel so guilty. We often feel alone, like it is “just us” who screws up. And, we sure don’t want the other parents to know because they wouldn’t understand. Things like this never happen to them, right?

We go through parenthood like this, afraid to let others see our weaknesses and unable to forgive ourselves for our screwups. What we don’t realize is this: WE ARE NOT ALONE! Each of you probably has some very similar scenarios and some doozies of your own. By reaching out to others and admitting our mistakes and foibles, we allow them to let their guard down, too.

Even though you hate that you put your kids through such “trauma”,  in reality they need to learn to live and deal with imperfect people… including you. You will not traumatize them by your everyday mistakes. They will not remember them or, if they do remember, they will probably laugh about them.

Since my kids are now 18 and older, they love to look back and laugh at some of the crazy stuff I did. My oldest daughter, who is a 29-year-old mother of six and my BFF, told me that she remembers when she was 10 years old and I yelled and threw a book at her because I was so angry. I was appalled and I certainly don’t remember that. I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but we have always joked that the oldest was the guinea pig anyway. I changed my parenting style a bit through the years and haven’t thrown anything recently. (Although, I have felt like it!)

The biggest thing I want you to take away from this post is this: Cut yourself some slack. And while you are at it, cut the moms and dads around you some slack as well.

So what if trash falls out the door of the minvan when she drops kids off at school? Or, what if her kid’s clothes don’t match? You don’t know what battle may have been fought that morning…same as at your house.

What are some things you have screwed up in your parenting?


  1. Jan

    April 25, 2011 at 12:20 am

    If you ever want to feel like the worst parent in the world, try parenting a special needs child. Some days you can’t even give close to enough of yourself to meet their needs. You love them, but sometimes, the disability can drive you absolutely nuts!

    My worst one recently was with my autistic 14 year old. He has always grimaced and had some odd facial expressions. He started having the same grimace occasionally. He never seemed to know that he was doing it.

    Turns out, the doctors think he is having SEIZURES! And I was perfectly willing to overlook it as just something quirky he did.

    I feel like introducing myself as, “Hi! I am Jan and I am a BAD Mom!”

  2. Kate F.

    April 20, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    “Have you ever pulled a smelly uniform from a gym bag, tossed it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet and threw it at your child on the way out the door?”

    This is a GREAT idea! Taking this one with me :) Ha!

    Great Post! Yes, we as moms definitely need to cut ourselves some slack! Loved it.

  3. Paula

    April 15, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Parenting is the hardest job there is. Well, at least if you’re doing it right it is. If you care, it’s hard. And no instruction manual.

    I do think I’m a far more deliberate and purposeful mother than I would have been at a younger age. (I was 32 when Ariel was born, as opposed to the 20 that my mom was!) And I think that has a lot to do with my approach to many things. I *know* I am a lot more patient now than I was back then.

    That is not to say I don’t make mistakes, forget things, or blow off her whining (which could be for a serious reason!), but I do give myself a break. Otherwise, I might not ever get out of bed again!!

  4. Kimberly

    April 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I wrote about parenting fails today. It feels like when you are a single parent, that all their successes are my successes, but when they fail, it’s all on me too.

  5. Beth

    April 15, 2011 at 12:35 am

    As a mom, I did and still do, plenty of things wrong, and I would name them, but I’m cutting myself some slack. LOL

    I will often look at other families and think they do/did so much better than I did with mine, but they have their issues, too.

    Not to excuse bad behavior, but a certain amount of recognizing that we aren’t perfect and never will be, is vital to a healthy outlook. I’ll have to figure that out someday.

    • Living the Balanced Life

      April 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      No, we don’t need to use the excuse that we are not perfect as a cop-out for being a poor parent. We obviously should be trying to do our best for our children. Note I said *our* best and *try*. We won’t always get it right, but if we aim we should land not too far off target!

  6. Shelly Wildman

    April 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Oh my goodness, have you been peeking into my life?! And what is so wrong about having cereal for dinner when Dad’s out of town? Huh? Over the years I have gotten really good (almost too good!) at cutting myself some slack. I wish I had learned to do that earlier though.

    • Living the Balanced Life

      April 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      It is so freeing Shelly, once we are able to give our selves that freedom to not be perfect. And I like Captain Crunch for dinner!

  7. Terri

    April 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Oh man I probably couldn’t count as high as the times I’ve felt like a bad parent, and still do. Especially when I lose my temper. Or when my guys got lost in the bus system after getting on the wrong bus in elementary school. Or when I was late to pick them up, or when I made them go to school thinking they were faking being sick, oh the list goes on and on. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone.

    • Living the Balanced Life

      April 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      It is natural instinct to try to place the blame elsewhere when we feel guilty and don’t want to look bad! I guess we just need to be careful that we don’t teach our kids bad habits as they are watching us always! Making mistakes isokay, but owning up to them is important as well. No, you are not alone!

  8. Sonja

    April 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Thanks, thanks, thanks for your openness and honesty. I think it’s society which tells us we should not talk about what goes on behind the closed front door of our home. I think that if we have friends and can count on them we can talk to them about everything and anything. I believe that we have to have honest blogs like these – especially towards the parents – because they help us all to know that we are all still normal. I’ve screwed up so often with my first one. Yes, agree – she’s my guinea pig and still is. Then there are two boys who get almost all my attention because I’ve let go of all that anxiety. We are all humans with feelings and needs. We cannot put on a pretty smile and pretend everything is ok when we feel like crap. I believe that kids need to know and learn that other people have feelings and needs too. So, I’ve cried in front of them, yelled in front of them BUT always told them why I felt this way after I got over it. Anyways, thanks for sharing this.

    • Living the Balanced Life

      April 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      Definitely much better for our kids to know that it is okay to mess up and to even cry over things. They need to learn how to appropriately deal with their emotions instead of burying them.
      I try in my posts here and on my own blog, to be as real as possible, because by being real, I can give others permission to take off their masks and be real as well. And what a relief that is, to be able to be yourself with someone.
      Thanks for your comment Sonja!

  9. Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)

    April 14, 2011 at 7:57 am

    After ignoring my daughter complain for months about the pain in her hip figuring it was due to the “freshman 15”, we discovered she had a massive Tumor in her pelvis which was possibly cancer.

    So I’m pretty sure I win.

    • Living the Balanced Life

      April 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Ooh, yea, that’s pretty bad! We just never think it’s gonna be something like that!
      My oldest at 13 complained horribly about her back hurting. She had scoliosis, but we had known that since kidergarten. I finally took her to the orthopedic to get a back brace or something and it was 10x worse than we expected and she had to have spinal fusion done! Oops.
      It’s easy to look back at these kinds of things later and be oaky with them, but in the middle of it, we are so tough on our selves.

    • Beth

      April 15, 2011 at 12:37 am

      I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s tumor. Any one of us could have done the same thing! Who expects to find their freshman child has a tumor?

      My prayers for your daughter and you.

  10. Jacqueline Wilson

    April 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Raising my hand on, uh, ALL OF THIS.

    Such a timely message. I really needed this. THANKS!

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