This may come as a surprise to you, but almost everyone sucks at parenting. Yes, even (and most often) the people who claim to be superior at it. No one is superior at it. The task of raising an actual person to actual adulthood is like, seriously overwhelming. Sure, there are moments when I get it right — and overall, my kids seem to be pretty well-adjusted — but for the most part, I suck. Often.
Parenting brings out the absolute ugliest parts of my personality; it’s humbling, grueling, and there are no breaks because even when you’re taking something that resembles a break, YOU ARE STILL THINKING ABOUT THOSE DARN KIDS. Obviously, that kind of environment lends itself to an awful lot of mistakes. I am glad children are resilient and forgiving.
It would be great if I could go back in time and erase every stupid thing I’ve said or done since becoming a mother, but since that’s impossible, let’s just review them one by one, shall we? You’ll feel like you’re not doing as bad of a job as you once thought, and I’ll have a clear conscience. Everyone wins!
Here are 10 times I sucked as a mother:
- My oldest flipped the bird in a family photo. While that was embarrassing, yes, it wasn’t exactly a fail on my part … until I posted it on social media. We don’t get a lot of pictures taken with all five of us in it, so I was hoping no one would notice. People definitely noticed.
- I told my son his friend is an asshole. It just slipped out, and they aren’t exactly “friends,” but anyway, my kid was telling me what another kid said to him on the playground and before I could censor myself I blurted, “THAT KID’S AN ASSHOLE.” His mouth fell open, so I quickly explained that everyone is an asshole occasionally, but that kid’s an asshole often. So, maybe just don’t play with him. And also, don’t say “asshole.” Good talk.
- Forgot to plan a birthday party after I promised a birthday party. I’m a big believer in follow-through, and I always do my best to be honest and upfront with my kids, but there was this one time I promised to host a birthday party and then I straight up forgot. In my defense, I was recovering from a concussion.
- I fed my family cereal for dinner every night for a very, very long time. I used to cook. I swear.
- Failed to label the Christmas presents. My mother never put name tags on the Christmas gifts when I was a kid, and for some reason, it made everything more exciting to have no idea which package was for whom. Naturally, I copied her method with my own family, except it didn’t go nearly as well. Mostly because I was an only child. And I have three kids. Yeah.
- The size of Texas argument. My 10-year-old is very bright. One day while driving home from school, we got into a discussion in front of the younger kids about which state in the U.S. is the biggest. I insisted it was Texas. He said it was Alaska. Rather than doing what normal people do and looking it up, I dug in and he dug in and now all three of my kids think their mom is an idiot. (It’s Alaska.)
- Wiped my kid’s butt with a Clorox wipe. He was potty training. The wipes look similar. I was tired. Shit happens.
- I lost one. Not really. I knew where he was (strapped into the shopping cart), and when I turned my back to buckle the baby into the car, the shopping cart rolled away from me and into the parking lot. Good Samaritans threw their cars into park and jumped out to help, which was great because he was quickly gaining speed. After that, I learned to wedge the cart between the cars while unloading.
- Time outs that never end. I’m notorious for putting a kid in time out and forgetting all about him/her. I love my peace and quiet.
- Yelled at my son for eating all the cookies before realizing that I’m the one who ate them. Yeah. So that happened. I’m not proud of the fact that I’m an emotional eater who can blow through a row of Oreos and forget all about it, but that’s what makes me human, right?