Epic Mom Fails: You're Not Alone!

by Rita Templeton

For every time I’ve felt like an amazing mom, there are 10 times I’ve felt like the wrong person for the job. Raising kids is a lot of pressure, man. I worry (probably irrationally, but whatever) that one critical blunder will send them hurtling toward a miserable, maladjusted adulthood.

Of course, when my rational mind takes over again, I realize that my stupid little mistakes — as big as they may seem at the time — are not going to do any substantial, lasting damage. As with any job, no one can do it perfectly all the time, and slip-ups are gonna happen.

Once, I bonked my newborn son’s head on a door frame as I walked through. I accidentally rolled my kid’s fingers up in the car window. I ignored my son’s complaints that his jacket was stinky and sent him to school in it — only to realize when he got home that it had been peed on by our cat. My toddler wandered around for two days with a broken wrist before I finally took him to the doctor (in my defense, it wasn’t even swollen). Most recently, we went to a get-together at our neighbors’ house, and it took us like half an hour to realize that our preschooler had inadvertently been left at home. Oops.

Yes, in nearly 12 years and four kids, I’ve made plenty of bonehead moves. But I’m in good company. I asked a bunch of the most amazing mothers I know to tell me about their own “mom fails,” and these are some of their answers:

My son lost his first tooth while with me all day, and I didn’t even realize it.

When my youngest was 3, I picked up a 12-pack of beer along with my groceries. My daughter says very loudly, in an aisle full of people, “Mom, you drinking that beer by yourself tonight, or is someone else coming over to help you with that?”

I let my 3-year-old use the Wi-Fi to play an online game but didn’t realize he had access to buying stuff with one-click. My phone started buzzing with email alerts from Amazon thanking me for my purchases.

I told my 8-year-old, “Yeah, go ahead and catch a squirrel,” thinking he would never be fast enough. He came home with two wild squirrels. One bit him.

The one time I forgot to go to an assembly, my daughter won both student of the month and artist of the month. She has never won two awards since that day, but I go to every assembly just in case now.

When my son was about 2, he very stealthily got up from his nap and popped the screen out of his window. We’d had it raised to let in a breeze because it was super-hot. We never even thought twice about it, because he was in his crib asleep. I got a call from my brother, and he said, “Hey, I just drove by your house on my way to Granny’s, and I think your kid is dangling out the window. Might want to check on that.” AND HE WAS. He had gotten up, climbed out of the crib, went over to the open window, and was trying to escape. But the ground wasn’t where he thought it was, so he was just DANGLING OUT THE WINDOW.

Once, I thought we had a birthday party at 1 o’clock. It was actually at noon, and we showed up once it was over. My daughter was in tears.

When my sister was 14, she was complaining of stomach aches and cramps. My mom assumed she was just trying to get out of her chores and made her keep cleaning, even after my sister started crying. Several hours later (after the cleaning was done), my sister was still complaining, so my mom finally took her to the ER. Turns out her appendix was about to burst, and she was rushed into surgery. My mom never assumed we were faking illnesses after that.

Riding home blasting gangster rap. I look back at my 4-year-old, and she’s praying.

After a month of hearing my 4-year-old complain that his foot hurt, I decided to check where he kept saying it hurt. There was a shard of glass so far into his foot that we had to go to a surgeon to have it removed in their office!

My son lost a tooth at my parents’ and brought it home and put it under his pillow, and I totally forgot. A month later, he lost another tooth at home. When we put it under his pillow, I felt something and asked, “What’s under here?” He said, “That’s the other tooth I lost. The tooth fairy hasn’t gotten it yet.” I felt awful — the poor kid was sleeping on a tooth for a month, checking every morning, and didn’t say anything about it to me because in his mind, Mom had nothing to do with the tooth fairy. I went to the bank and got $10 worth of gold dollar coins to put under the pillow, and an apology note from the “tooth fairy” for the oversight.

I once locked my twin daughters in the car strapped into their car seats. The extra set of keys was in my purse — which was also in the car. I had to call the dealership to have a new key made to unlock them and get them out.

I told my 7-year-old I would pick him up from school instead of him taking the bus. I forgot to go get him, and the school had to call me to come pick him up.

I was in a hurry at the shopping center, trying to get both my kids quickly out of the car. I slammed the door hard, grabbed both their hands, and said impatiently, “Let’s go!” My daughter didn’t move — her fingers were stuck in the door.

I left my son at Walmart when he was about 12. Got halfway home, counted kids in the rearview mirror, and realized he was gone. He was still playing games in the front entrance when I went back for him. He hadn’t even realized we were gone!

My daughter and son-in-law recently got their wires crossed. She picked the baby up from his daycare, and neither realized that their older child didn’t get picked up. When it dawned on them that they didn’t have her, both of them called the daycare at the same time to see if she was there.

When my son was 2, my husband worked nights and I worked days. I usually stayed up until my husband got home so our son could spend time with him, but one night, I was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch about an hour early. When my husband came home and woke me, our son was sitting in a big chair watching TV, with a bottle of Boone’s Farm (wine) between his legs! I was mortified! Thank goodness he didn’t have more than a couple of sips.

I sent my first-grader to school dressed as Hulk Hogan, complete with mustache and muscles, for “Favorite Celebrity Day.” Little did I know it was actually the following Wednesday. His teacher called, laughing.

See? Everybody has a story. So for the next time you feel like you’re totally bungling up this whole parenting gig, bookmark this page to reassure yourself that you’re definitely not alone. Or just poll the moms you know, because I guarantee they’ll have some gems. We all do. (And if you don’t? Just wait. Your time is coming.)

Hey, at least it gives us something to laugh about when we realize our kids are still fine.