We’ve all thought it at least one, right? The question: “Am I screwing up my kids?” The truth is… yes. To some extent. We all are. Because we can’t do this job perfectly and it’s time we learn that forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes is not just ok, but essential.

Our babies come to us in these tiny little packages of perfection, and it is our job to just preserve that flawlessness as long as possible.

But alas, we are human.

We are literally incapable of doing a flawless job as mothers. (Not to mention, those little angels are not actually angels, but are human just like us, and also are not perfect even though they appear to be at first.)

 

But as I lay in bed looking at the chubby little faces of my 19-month-old twins I can’t stop wondering if I’m doing this right.

You see, they don’t talk much. They gesture. They do a few signs for words. They follow directions. They clearly know what is going on and understand language at an age-appropriate level… they just don’t say a lot of words.

So far their pediatrician hasn’t sounded any alarm bells about their speech, but some days those bells ring in my own head nonetheless.

There are days and weeks that I chalk up their lack of conversational skills to their age and all kids developing differently. I swear I didn’t hear my one nephew say a word until he was 3.

Then I start to worry. What if there IS something wrong?

I discuss it with their dad, and he talks me off the ledge. I start to think this lack of speech is just a matter of them being interested in other things right now, like puzzles, instead of speaking.

Now, of course, I will bring this up at their next doctor visit if they haven’t improved by then, but this specific example is something we go through constantly as mothers.

Are we making the right call? Are our kids “normal?” Are we normal? Is it all ok? Will it all be ok?

And what exactly is “ok?” What exactly is “normal?”

What are the standards we really use to measure ourselves as mothers? Are we doing a good job?

I have seen that quote that goes to the effect of “if you are worried about whether you are a good mother, then you are.” But I don’t know if that’s accurate.

I might love basketball, think it’s an awesome sport, but that doesn’t mean I can actually play the game. Same goes for motherhood, right? Just because you are trying really hard, does that mean you are succeeding?

I honestly don’t know.

But one thing that I know to be true is that we must be willing to grow, to learn, and to use any new knowledge to become a better parent. Part of that process is learning to forgive yourself for parenting mistakes. Accepting the inevitability of imperfection and embracing it so that you can roll with what these little monsters throw at you.

How do you actually forgive yourself for parenting mistakes? That’s the hard part. I don’t think there is one simple answer besides just learning acceptance and surrender to what is. Allowing yourself to feel a little out of control and some vulnerability.

It’s not just you. We are all screwing this up, and for the most part we are also totally rocking it too.

When I’m feeling a little down on myself for not being the perfect mom, I think about what the most basic requirements are for being a good mom or parent. It basically boils down to this:

Are your kids safe? Are they growing? Are they well fed and clothed? Have a place to sleep at night? Are they loved?

The answer to all of these for me right now is yes, and so much more on top of that.

So no matter what minor thing I think I am screwing up, I know that in reality my kids are doing better than the majority of other children in the world. And that’s one of the keys for forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes. Perspective.

Chances are if you are reading this, you have an exceptional amount of privilege. That could be based on your economic status, where you live, what you look like, being able-bodied, etc.

The very fact that you are reading this blog post means that you have access to the internet and are interested in reading articles on the idea of being a better parent and learning from your mistakes.

When you peel away all the trappings of modern parenting (extra-curricular activities, reading levels, etc.), it’s a little easier to see just how well you probably are doing. That’s not to say parents who don’t have internet access or aren’t as privileged aren’t incredible parents, they certainly are. The point is just that the fact that you are reading this means you have nearly infinite resources of knowledge at your disposal. 

The biggest mistake parents make isn’t in ever making mistakes. The biggest mistake is refusing to acknowledge the mistakes, learn and do better. It takes a smidge (or a ton) of humility to admit you’ve screwed up.

 

So go ahead and let the mistakes go. Allow yourself to learn. Enjoy being a mom with a little less stress on the brain, and slowly get better at forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes too!

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