Raising Needham: And the Mommy of the Year Award Goes To ...

Being a parent isn’t about being perfect, and sometimes it’s those imperfections that teach us the most.

I was sitting in the waiting area of my daughter’s ballet class last week, and another mom told me she arrived a few minutes earlier and everything was locked up, lights were out and she thought that class had been cancelled. She continued on, saying she wondered if she had missed an e-mail, call or other notice and was she the only mom who messed up the date?

I assured her that I have that feeling daily. After all, it was just the other week that I took my son to the wrong location for his classmate’s birthday party. I was so outwardly upset with myself for being such an idiot that my son felt the need to tell me it was no big deal and we would still have time to play when we finally got to the right location.

That wasn’t enough for me, though. The entire 15-minute ride, I verbally bashed myself, apologized to my son over and over again and promised him a great party once we got there.

Once we arrived at the right location, after what felt like an eternity of red lights and stop signs, I felt comfortable enough to disclose my stupidity to another mom friend. "No judgment, please," I said; it wasn’t like I was known for this. She comforted me by telling her story of driving an hour to a museum that was closed on Mondays. Phew! My “bad mothering moment” was dissipating. I guess I am not the only mom who won’t be nominated for the Mommy of the Year Award.

Or will I?

Seems like these days us moms are ready to bash our parenting at the slightest provocation. Laundry isn’t done for pink shirt day; we should have stayed up until midnight getting it done. We showed up late for the first day of soccer and without a snack, and we are disorganized and forgetful. We had an iPhone camera instead of a 35mm for little Suzie’s on stage debut and we obviously don’t care about her budding acting career. We are hard on ourselves and most of the time nobody else is. Case in point: When I went to the wrong place for my son’s friend’s birthday party, the only one who cared was me. And, boy, did I care. I couldn’t let it go the entire ride to the right location.

So what’s my point?

While I have never been a fan of the “good enough” parenting movement, I do advocate giving yourself a break from time to time. So you should have done the laundry and been on time with snack in hand. (iPhone cameras are pretty good these days, so forget about that one.) Sometimes these little parenting blunders have to be OK. It has to be OK to make mistakes, and it should be OK for your kids to know you made the mistake. Better they find out now that we aren’t perfect, because Lord knows when they are teenagers they will be itching to prove it to us.

While you are busy trying to let go of your mistakes—and, for me, this may take a while—let go of your kids' mistakes, too. Let them learn from them and move on. I am better at this but could still use some reminders from time to time.

I tried it this past weekend when my son was still jumping into his car seat expecting me to buckle him in without so much as an attempt. He quickly said he couldn’t do it and I told him that was OK, but he had to at least try. I turned to my daughter, who was all clicked in, as we say, and told them both that as long as they try their mistakes will be chances to learn. They liked that.

My son got into his car seat this morning and without thinking I turned to click him in and, guess what? He had beaten me to it and had a huge smile on his face. So did I.


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