You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

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It’s 11:00pm. 

You know you should be sleeping.

But sleep seems impossible. Every time you shut your eyes, your mind flashes a reel of your latest shortcomings.

You see the moment earlier today when your patience collapsed and you screamed at your kids. You see their little eyes grow wide at your unfettered anger and frustration.

Or perhaps it’s when you caved and made them boxed mac & cheese for dinner—for the third time this week.

Or when you missed your child’s first jump off the diving board because you were too distracted by your phone. Now you’re haunted by their tears when they asked, “Mommy, did you see me?!”

Maybe it’s even bigger than that.

Maybe it’s the day when your daughter was finally diagnosed with a special need. You wonder how you could have missed it—and how much pain could have been spared if you hadn’t. 

Or the day you maxed out your credit card right before your son’s birthday.

Or the day you were so depressed you struggled to get out of bed, let alone be a parent.

You close your eyes and there it is. You can’t forget it. You can’t block it out. You feel like the lowest of the low as you wonder:

Have I traumatized them?

Have I messed them up for life?

Do they believe me when I tell them I’m sorry?

Do they believe me when I tell them I love them? 

Oh mama, when those memories haunt you and those questions overwhelm you, remember this:

You are more than your worst parenting mistake.

You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

You are more than the time you fell flat on your face.

You are more than the day you screwed it all up.

This simple fact is so gloriously true that it’s become one of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood. The way she says it is this:

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

I think it’s worth repeating.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

Put that on your wall

 Now there’s a downside to this platitude, of course.

It means that if you exercise just one day a month, physical fitness will evade you. If you text a friend only once a year, your relationship will probably wither. A single dose of the good stuff isn’t enough to sustain you.

But a single dose of the bad stuff isn’t going to ruin you either.

That one lesson at Arthur Murray didn’t make you a competitive salsa dancer, right? That one wine and cheese demo didn’t make you a sommelier, did it? Similarly, that one mothering misstep does not make you a bad mom.

The kind of mom you are most days is the kind of mom you really are. 

Those rough moments don’t define you or your relationship with your kids. You are more than your worst parenting mistake. 

So mama, it’s ok to close your eyes.

It’s ok to let go of that painful loop in your brain. It’s ok to tell yourself a different story—one with a beautiful ending.

Because when you wake up tomorrow and live out that story, it’s the only one that will actually be true.