I’ll be the first to admit, I went into this whole motherhood thing pretty sure I was going to rock it.
After years of dealing with infertility, and then the steps taken to adopt my daughter, it wasn’t like any of this had come about as a surprise. I’d had plenty of time to think about, and plan for, exactly what kind of mother I would be. I’d done all the reading and educated myself on all the philosophies.
I was fully prepared to be a motherhood genius.
Then, the reality set in. And the sleep deprivation. And I realized pretty quickly that no one gets out of this unscathed. Motherhood is hard work, and mistakes (or #momfails, as the internet likes to call them) are inevitable.
Here are just a few you are bound to fall victim to.
1. Trusting a baby not to roll
I can’t tell you how many times I had been told stories about babies rolling off of beds, and how many times I shook my head and thought, “Nope. That will never happen to me.”
Fast forward to the time my baby was about 5 months old. She rolled off my bed while I was sitting right next to her and landed on the hard treadmill that lives directly beside my bed.
I seriously think I cried harder than she did.
2. Misjudging the dimensions of a sleeping child
Let me tell you something about carrying a sleeping child: It’s harder than it looks. Yes, they are adorable and sweet when they’re snoozing against you. But the older they get, the more difficult they become to transport in this way.
That dead weight can be really hard to lug around, even if it’s just from the car to their bed. And inevitably, the day will come when you misjudge just how long they are, and you manage to crash their sleeping head against a wall, or get a sleepy arm caught in the door you’re closing.
The amazing thing is, even if you think you’ve just smacked them pretty hard, they’ll usually sleep right through it.
3. Losing your cool
Look, there may be a time and place for yelling, and losing your temper isn’t always a bad thing.
Sometimes kids need to know that the crime they’ve committed was a serious one. But other times, you’re just tired. Or frustrated. Or feeling a bit overwhelmed by the incessant whining. And so, you lose your cool and start yelling at your kid over something that really isn’t that big of a deal. And even as you’re doing it, you hear yourself and know you’re overreacting.
Then, of course, you feel more than just a little guilty.
4. Providing a less than nutritious dinner
This is mom fail 101. Realistically, it’s not even a fail. Life happens, and you can’t always be expected to prepare a perfectly nutritious meal for your family.
Sometimes, you have soccer practice to get to and fast food is the best option. Or you’re feeling sick and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are all you can manage. Don’t beat yourself up. Remember that most of us grew up on frozen dinners and SpaghettiOs. Your kids are going to be just fine.
5. Being too attached to your phone
I’m self-employed and work from home, so trust me, I get the urge to remain constantly in contact.
And I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Looking at your phone while hanging with your kids is not the major sin most mommy blogs would have you believe. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a mommy brain break every once in a while, and to check in on your emails and Facebook as you do. Children don’t need our undivided attention every second of every day.
But there are also times when that brain break lasts a bit too long. Or when it takes place at an inopportune moment, like when you are otherwise in the middle of playing a game with your kiddo. And when you look up and realize just how aware they are of the preference you’re giving your phone over them, it can feel pretty darn awful.
6. Forgetting an important event
Before motherhood, I was the most organized woman you’ve ever met. I lived and breathed by my planner, and I never forgot about anything.
That’s still true today, to an extent. I still live and breathe by my planner, but I’m so much more exhausted these days. And so, things have fallen through the cracks a time or two. I’ve forgotten doctor’s appointments and kid’s birthday parties. And I have friends who have forgotten to put the tooth fairy money under the pillow, or to send a required permission slip to school on time.
The truth is, moms are juggling a lot. And while none of us aim to be forgetful, it happens to all of us.
7. Looking away
I was at a public swimming pool with my daughter recently, when another mom turned her back on her 5-year-old in order to attend to her 1-year-old. In the 30 seconds her back was turned, her daughter wandered just outside the shallow end and began struggling to keep her head above water. The lifeguard had jumped in and pulled her out before the mom even realized what happened.
I spoke to her after the fact. She was pretty shaken up and being incredibly hard on herself. But the thing is, we all have those moments where we look away when we shouldn’t, and where something truly terrible could have happened in the wake of our inattention.
Mine was when my daughter was just 2 years old and wandered away from me at a local bookstore while I was busy perusing the shelves. It took about 30 seconds to find her from the time I realized she wasn’t still right in front of me, and they were the scariest 30 seconds of my life.
You can’t have your eye on your kids all the time, and there will be times when you know you shouldn’t have looked away, but you did. Hopefully, those times end happily and can serve as a reminder moving forward. But just know you’re not the only mom who has made those mistakes.
8. Breaking your own rules
Before motherhood, you probably had a strictly defined idea of what the rules in your house would be. No eating away from the table. No television at dinnertime. No kids sleeping in your bed.
Whatever your rules were, you’ve probably realized by now that rules were made to be broken. Sure, some of your rules have stuck, but not all of them. And you know you are just as guilty as your kids for letting them break.
9. Using the television as a babysitter
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated (and loosened) their guidelines on screen time. More and more, people are realizing that technology is simply a part of this newer generation, and that strictly denying that technology isn’t the answer. But even still, it’s fair to limit that screen time. No child needs five hours of television viewing or video game playing in a single day.
You know this. You feel strongly about it. And you’ve set guidelines in your home you feel comfortable with.
But then, you wake up one day just exhausted. Or feeling sick. Or realizing you have a pile of work to do. And suddenly, you’re letting your kid watch three of the six Tinker Bell movies in a single day.
Not that I’ve ever done that. Nope. No way. Not me.
10. Just messing up
Sometimes, you just make a mistake.
Maybe you blame one child for something the other actually did. Or perhaps you fail to trust your child on something they are actually telling the truth about. Maybe you’re tired and overwhelmed and you give into whining on a day when you know you should remain firm. Or you decide to wait out what you think is cold symptoms, only to get your kid to a doctor a few days later and learn they have strep.
We all make mistakes, and there’s no such thing as the perfect parent. So go easy on yourself (and your fellow moms) when these “fails” take place. And remember, kids have a relatively short attention span, which means you can always start over tomorrow.