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I got an email from a friend last week saying “I really don’t know how you do it all!!”. t’s a sentiment I’ve been hearing a lot lately, so I want to set the record straight: I don’t. My house gets vacuumed less than 10 times per year (last minute visitors?: break out the carpet sweeper), the bathrooms are lucky to see a cleaning every 3 weeks and my garden grows au naturel. My desk is covered with piles of papers and there may be one or two live-in spiders that come out to play every now and then. A few days ago I found a binder that had been “misplaced” for over two years in the bottom of a laundry basked covered by an assortment of toys, outgrown baby clothes, and craft supplies, located in the back of the storage space under our stairs (a.k.a. “Harry’s Room”). Just one of the many perks of working from home.
And it would be great to say that when it comes to the *really* important things: my child, my husband, my self (not necessarily in that order) it’s all perfectly under control. But nope. Just like you, I’m just trying to do the best I can. That’s why I wanted to share with you our most painful parenting fail to date. So with the consent of my husband and daughter, here goes:
Recently, Anika, my 9 year-old daughter, had her 4th grade play. Leading up to it were weeks of memorizing and practicing the script, coming up with a costume (thank you Pinterest!) and the usual “nervexcitedness” that comes with these kinds of milestones in a kid’s life. She was so ready. And she was counting on us.
And then we didn’t show up.
Nope. Instead of helping her confidence by having us in the audience and allowing her to focus on her performance, our absence made her feel confused, distracted, and terribly alone, since we were the only parents not there (I have not confirmed this last bit, but that is what my guilty conscience says is true).
I wish I could tell you that there was a family crisis or an emergency, but no. We just flat-out forgot.
For some reason, the performance hadn’t made it onto the family calendar, and Anika had spent the night at a friend’s house (school-night sleepover, anyone?), so we didn’t have the usual morning rush of “do you have your costume? what about the boots? let me braid your hair; you’re going to be awesome, we’ll see you later today!” to remind us. To top it all off, I found out about our royal mess-up thanks to Facebook, when another parent uploaded a picture of her kid and tagged me. You could see my daughter in the background, looking like she’s trying to find us.
I can’t begin to tell you how horrible that felt. Letting your child down when she’s counting on you ranks up there as crappiest thing you can do. But since there are no do-overs, first we cried, and then we turned it into a teachable moment about owning up to our mistakes. Instead of having her take the bus home, we picked her up from school, apologized profusely*, and told her she owned us for the afternoon. We would do whatever she wanted (within reason) and she would have our undivided attention. And if you’re wondering, yes, she was down right pissed at us for not having been there. You should have seen her face, as the three of us walked from the classroom to the car without saying a word.
So no, I’m not doing it all. Not even close. But I’m doing the best I can, turning my royal f*ck-ups into teachable moments whenever possible, and not beating myself up too much when I can’t. Want to join me? We can take the “The Vesta Pact” together, because “people need to hear that they are “normal”, whatever that may be. Moms, especially, need to know that the “perfection” that they are often striving to meet likely doesn’t exist”.
And please, please, please, feel free to tell me in the comments about how you keep it real at your house, or join the conversation on my Facebook page. Let’s tear down the “supermom” trap.
Love and messy life,
*Ánika wants me to let you know that she’s forgiven us, and that all the things we did to make it up to her worked.