(side note, this is a reedit. Changes at the end)
As a parent, you’re destined to have at least one. If you’re being honest with yourself, there’s likely a half dozen or more moments in time you can recall without any effort that make you say to yourself “WHHHHHOOOOOO does that?!”
Yep. It was, tired, overworked, underpaid highly contagious me that accidentally gave Kid #1 a dose of concentrated Tylenol in the dosage amount given for its nonconcentrated counterpart. A mistake I did not pick up on until Kid 1 (who was 6 months old at the time and had been screaming for 3 hours nonstop) just laid her head down and went to sleep. As I stared at my peaceful 6 month old sprawled out over her swing, snoring soundly, the “mom voice” in the back of my head- you know the one. She screams at you into the wee hours of the morning questioning your every move, and has the ability to keep all mothers up at night rethinking every decision we made that day, wondering if our choice to feed the spawn frozen waffles for breakfast is what caused them to write their letter “D” backwards- suddenly shook me from my peaceful fog with a simple question.
“How much did you give her?!” That was quickly answered with a resounding “Too much! Too much!” (yes, I called poison control. Apparently, this is a common mistake and as long as it’s the only amount you gave them, and you just don’t give them anymore for 24-36 hours, they’ll -usually- be fine.)
I’m also the parent that shouted “Put the beads and the Dolphin down!” Upon discovering my (then) 2 and 3 year old had gotten into my Passion Parties Consultant Kit.
When they were 4 and I began swatting their cute little tushes for disciplinary reasons I would refer to the act of spankings as “a beating”. (as in “Step off that curb one more time I will beat you” or “Do you need a beating?”) Which worked great for me….Till we were in a checkout line at the grocery store and they tipped my ENTIRE cart onto the floor, then looked at me terrified, wrapped their entire bodies around my legs,and clinging tightly sobbed “PLEASE MOMMY! DON’T BEAT ME!”
Not to be outdone, one year later, when they were just the right height to head butt me in the crotch and I got the GENIUS idea to tell them with “Once you come out of there, you can’t go back in!” Suddenly, they had a new game to play. It went like this;
*slamming their head into my crotch” I’m going back in Mommy!” *head slam. Laughter. Repeat*
So much entertainment came from this! Till the day the 3 of us were in a crowded restaurant and they lifted my full length sun dress, exposed my barely covered thong rear end and slammed their head into my crotch and shouted “I’m going back in Mommy!” as the flower print fabric draped over them. Loud enough for all to hear.
Epic Parent Failures come in all shapes and sizes. And usually sneak up on me when I least expect it.
Once, during a deployment, The Mr. convinced me there was no need to take our son (aka Kid #2) to a salon for a haircut “Why waste the money? There’s a perfectly good pair of clippers in our bathroom. Just cut it yourself.” He said.
After days of “You can’t get it wrong, there’s a guard on the clippers. Just cut his hair. It’ll be fine!” I decided to attempt his request. And it was fine. At first.
In fact, everything was going great with the hair cut on my son till my electric clippers died on me. It was the kind that needed to be charged before use. (Something The Mr. did not share with me beforehand.) About half way thru Kid #2s hair cut (which was looking fantastic by the way) the clippers just stopped working.
Since we didn’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day, my internal panic alarm did not go off. The cut was looking good, I was feeling confident. The sides were trimmed and even, and I only had the top and a small patch in the back left. So I just plugged the clippers in and told the boy we’d finish his hair cut in an hour. We went back to playing games till it was time.
When the clippers were charged, we started again. Laughing and singing as I brought the clippers to the nape of his neck. Excited about how his hair was coming along. Unfortunately, being new to the whole “use the clippers” thing, I didn’t spot the missing guard that had been on during our first session. When I put the clippers to his head this time, hair came off all the way to the scalp.
I panicked. He cried. We asked “What would Daddy do?” and decided that giving him a high and tight was the answer. With excitement, we began to cut his hair so “he would look just like daddy! YAY!” With great finesse, I began to shave his head the way I’d seen The Mr do so many times before. Pivoting the clippers just right at the curve near the top of the skull to produce a “fade” look.
The back was done. Kid #2 had dried up his tears and I was feeling confident again.
Till we hit a spot on the side of his head, right above his ear. Just as I was beginning to “pivot” that clippers near the top, Little Man spun his head to the right, causing the clippers to mow a bald patch right through the top of his head.
“Mommmmmmmmmmyyyyy!” He wailed. “Put it back! PUT MY HAIR BACK!”
“I can’t baby.” I whispered teary eyed, with my head hanging low.” We have to shave your head.”
When I completed the task of shaving my son bald, he asked to take a bath. Which I catered to. Kid #2 sat in the tub for three long hours, just staring at the tile surrounding him, shuffling bubbles from side to side until they were no more. Sniffling in silence.
“Hey buddy.” I said to him at the 3 hour mark beginning to worry about his wrinkled skin. “You ready to get out now? The water is ice cold”
“Leave me alone Mommy. I. Had. A. Hard. Day.”
Yep. Failures. They happen in life. As a parent, mistakes happen often. And that’s ok. It’s what you do after that really matters. The key to survival is what you do next. Here are some suggestions.
First and foremost, laugh at yourself. Laugh hard. And laugh often. Parenting is a messy business. Whether you’re cleaning up feces, or fishing a action figure out of a backed up toilette, the story behind the mess is always a good one. So laugh at it.
Take time to enjoy the little things. Your child will only want to experience things with you for so long. Take advantage of that. Go star gazing. Build a fort. Sing. Dance. Make faces at each other. And when you’re done, let them know how grateful you are to have had that moment with them by saying thank you.
Realize your life isn’t your own anymore and accommodate to that. It will take an extra 20 minutes to get to the car. You will have to stop hustling through a store to tie a shoe. You will leaqve yuour house some mornings wondering if you brushed your teeth. Set your clock a few minutes ahead, and always carry gum.
Forgive yourself. Yes, in the chaos of chasing those beautiful babies around this morning you broke a coffee mug or forgot to turn the dryer on. There isn’t a mistake you can make that can’t be undone. You aren’t damaging your kids with these minor mistakes, (no matter how convinced you are that their lives are destroyed because you forgot to pack their lunch this morning) The truth of the matter is, the only one being damaged when you dwell on the bad is you. Let things go.
Grow with your children. As much as I love to tell my kids “I need a minute to figure this out, I must’ve skipped this chapter in the parenting handbook” they know just as well as I do, there is no handbook. You’re learning about life together. Make every lesson a lesson that makes you a better person.
Most importantly, make the words most often heard in your home be “I love you”
These are my suggestions for parenting. What are yours?