I am a complete Type A personality. So, it is not surprising that I often manage parenthood in the same way I manage life. I schedule. I organize. I plan. And, I try to stay on top of EVERYTHING. In fact, I thought a large part of being a good mom and showing my kids how much I care was staying on top of their daily happenings and making sure that they had everything that they needed to succeed at whatever it is they are doing. And, for 5 plus years, I worked diligently at this. “Don’t forget your water bottle”, “Don’t worry if you get wet, we have extra clothes packed”, “Make sure you find your show and tell for tomorrow and put it on the counter so we don’t forget,” and the list goes on.
But lately, with the mental load that we as mothers have to bear, I have been forgetting often. And, I am feeling like a complete and utter failure.
You see, I have two boys at two different schools, with two different school calendars, two different hot lunch menus, two different sets of gym/art/library days, etc., plus extracurricular activities. And, this week alone, I forgot to make sure my six year old had his shin guards for his soccer game, I sent one son to school with his lunch packed on a day when he gets hot lunch—not a big deal, but confusing for my four year old and a waste of food— and I sent my dad to pick up my youngest from school for a half day, only to find it was NOT a half day. The half day is next week. But once my son saw his grandfather, he completely came unglued and cried until my dad brought him home early. So, yeah, he missed the afternoon—and, yes, I know that he is in pre-K, one half day is not going to kill him, it is not like he is missing a calculus lesson, and he is actually quite happy over this whole situation …
… but the point is that I screwed up. And, it feels like I screw up a lot lately. And it really does not matter how benign the screw up is, the mommy guilt eats at me all the same.
Not to mention that I am now convinced that literally everyone from my son, to my dad, to the teacher, to anyone that I might tell about the little pick-up mix-up is judging me. And some may be. But truthfully, the issue is that I am judging me. As someone who has always prided myself for staying on top of things, this week has me feeling like a complete disaster.
But, as I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, trying to think of a million excuses for my recent ball-dropping (as if just being a mother, manager of my household, working two jobs, and being a wife is not enough), it dawned on me that I would NEVER be as hard on any other mother as I am myself right now for any reason.
So, after thinking for a bit about what I would tell a friend if she were in a similar situation, I compiled a list of THE TOP THREE REASONS THAT SCREWING UP SOMETIMES IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR MY KIDS:
- My kids will learn to be more independent. There is a very good possibility that if I forget something or send the wrong thing, my kids will figure it out. If I always perfectly manage everything in their lives for them, then there will never be a problem, and thus they will not learn to solve it. And as a bonus, they may actually ask another adult for help and learn that there are more capable and kind people in this world than just their mom.
- My kids will be more resilient. They will learn to cope when things do not go as expected. They will learn that there are times when I screw up and it is not a big deal, and they will move on rather quickly. They will also learn that there will be times when it is a big deal, and if I can make it right, I will try my damnedest. But there will also be times when I screw up that I cannot make it right. The damage will be done. So, they will deal with it—they will cope—no matter how difficult that may be sometimes. And, if they don’t, I am completely supportive of their decision to work this out in therapy as an angst-ridden young adult.
- Their relationships will be stronger, both with others and themselves. Because they will learn that we are all imperfect beings. And sometimes even those they love most will disappoint them, hurt them, or screw up. My hope would be that if it is a genuine mistake, my children will forgive. Also, I would never want my kids to feel the weight and pressure of trying to be perfect themselves. Mistakes are a part of learning, growing, and being better. And I need to be their model for how to do this. Owning their mistakes can help them more fully embrace and truly love themselves. Rather than hiding their imperfections and beating themselves up about them privately as I have done over the years, I hope that my kids will learn that their flaws, mistakes, and screw-ups, all make them more well-rounded, genuine, and relatable. They make them a better human and will make them a more understanding friend/spouse/parent.
I would like to tell you that I will never forget again, but let’s face it. I will. And, when I do, I will own it, I will strive to do better next time, and I will extend to myself the same loving-kindness that I extend to others.
Because, as always, I am
to be the best version of me.
But, in the meantime, I have decided to simply be the beautiful disaster that motherhood has molded me into …
And, to be unapologetically so.
My kids will be better for it.