If, like me, you make mistakes on the daily, maybe you’ll nod your head in understanding with this list. My guilt runs deep, making little jabs at my psyche at the most inopportune times.
On the whole, I know I’m a good mom. My list of moments I don’t ever want to forget is much longer, but I don’t think you really care about that. What you want to hear is that other moms make mistakes too. That you’re not alone in your mini moments of failure. That you can make mistakes and still be a good mother.
Prepare to travel down a more grimy, shit-covered memory lane with me. Here goes.
Ten Firsts Every Parent Wishes They Could Forget
1. The first time you lost your shit in public.
It sucks showcasing your shortened fuse, your “I-can’t-take-this-anymore” moment. You become acutely aware of the judgy glances, but you just can’t stop. You become aware of the deepening red flush of your face, the clenching of your fists, the rising level of your voice, the angry tears brimming in your eyes, but you just can’t stop. Whether it is in front of your mother-in-law or in the grocery store line, these are the moments we wish we could scribble out of our brains with a Sharpie.
2. The first time you punished your child ineffectively.
I’ve spanked my child. Gasp. It sucks, and it’s ineffective for me personally because it either makes my 4-year-old: a) laugh or b) get more angry and spank me back. Then, he’s over it a few minutes later while I feel like shit for hours, even days. Whether it’s time-outs or redirection or counting to three, if the punishment does not work, you’re left feeling bewildered and confused and trying to sort out whether you should persevere or try something new. Regardless, what you mostly feel like is a failure as a parent.
3. The first time you gave in to your child.
You’ve given in. Game over. Whether it’s an extended bedtime, an extra cookie, or yes to that new car, you’ve just screwed yourself. Your kids now know how to break you. Prepare for weeks of repair time.
4. The first time you did something forgetful that could have seriously hurt your child.
Once, I got home from a trip to the mall only to discover I had forgotten to buckle my son’s car seat. There was that other time I locked myself out of the house with the kids inside. Or the time I left the stove on, went to go pee, and came back to see my 2-year-old climbing on the countertop to check out what was cooking for dinner. We all have these moments, these lapses in logic and common sense, and when we do, we are humbled and thankful for a chance to try again.
5. The first time your child did get hurt on your watch.
It’s inevitable. Your child will get hurt, and it will be your fault. It sucks. My 2-year-old burned his little wrist while reaching for a piece of bread out of the toaster. It was my fault. I should have been watching him better. Is he OK? Sure. Doesn’t change the fact I feel like crap about it, though.
6. The first time you argued with your child, and they won.
Before children, I never would have believed a mature, intelligent adult could have an actual argument with a 3-year-old and lose. My oldest son is living proof that the logic of a toddler who wants two desserts is infallible.
7. The first time you fought with your spouse in front of your child, and your child really noticed.
As a rule, my husband and I try to have our disputes privately, but it happens. It’s the heat of the moment and you let loose to an impressionable audience. Then, your innocent little one asks you, “Are you fighting with Daddy because of me?” and your heart sinks into a deep, dark place.
8. The first time your child said something humiliating in public.
“Wow, that lady is really fat!” Cringe. Look away. Hide your crimson face, grab your child firmly by the arm and make a beeline out of that ice cream line. There’s another DQ down the street.
9. The first time you lied to your child.
I don’t care whether it’s lying about why your child wasn’t invited to a birthday party or pretending you believe in heaven. Sometimes, lying to your child, even when it’s for their own good, feels like you ate an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting. The icky feeling lingers.
10. The first time you said something hurtful to your child.
This stings the most. Sometimes, we get so angry, so exhausted, so fed up, we say something we really, truly don’t mean. It’s one thing to do it to your spouse, but to your child? I once told my child to stop being stupid. He’s four. Yeah. After spending weeks of teaching him not to say that word himself, it slipped out of my own mouth in a fury of frustration. It still makes me sick. I made a quick recovery, apologized, tried to explain we all make mistakes, but it happened. My only hope is that my son has a shorter memory than mine.
As if this weren’t enough, I am reminded my children are quite young, so there are so many more firsts headed my way. I can see it now: the first time I get a call from the principal’s office, the first time I get confronted by an angry parent, the first time my children catch my spouse and me having sex. Worst of all: the first time I catch them having sex. Shudder.
All moments sure to traumatize and raise the therapy bills.