Okay I have a confession to make. I’m not perfect. I wasn’t a perfect kid, I wasn’t a perfect student, I wasn't a perfect single, workingwoman and I am not a perfect parent. Whew, glad I got that off my chest. Of course I knew all of this when I became a parent, but that didn’t stop me from buying into the sterilized view of parenting. You know what I’m talking about. Those warm, glowing, everyone’s happy mothers who never yell at their children or beat themselves up when they do ‘that which makes us human.’ In other words, they never make mistakes.
Well, let’s just say it didn't take but a few months before I blew a crater-sized hole in that way of thinking. I was going out on one of my first outings with my daughter, all by myself. I had everything packed – diapers, pacifiers, diaper pad (for her) breast pads (for me). Yep, I was feeling pretty darn good about my efforts, until she had a, um, what’s the best way to describe this, a blowout. In the car. Then screamed for a mile and a half until I could pull over and see what was going on. In that long list of things in the diaper bag, notice one missing? Wipes! Yes, I had no wipes to help in the er, em, cleanup. So I punted. Once I determined what the problem was (and it wasn’t that difficult), I went to the nearest fast food restaurant, bought a large drink and asked for a ton of napkins. Using the bottle of water in my bag (see, I had nearly everything) I wet the napkins and gingerly patted my princess’ bottom. Was it the perfect situation? Nope, not even close. Did it work, you bet.
From that I learned three crucial things that have stayed with me through the parenting journey.
1. Laughter helps, A LOT: If for nothing else, than it keeps you from wanting to cry! You think I didn't want to do that when the smell overtook my car, or as I was trying to pull the car over safely and get my baby taken care of? Whew. When it was all said and done, the thought of that much, em, stuff, coming out of that beautiful baby’s bum, was pretty funny.
2. Learn from your mistakes: In fact I don’t even like to think of them as mistakes as much as lessons along the path. You can be certain of this; I never forgot wipes again. You know why? Because that experience taught me to keep a checklist, (similar to the one HERE on the Evenflo site) in one of the diaper bag pockets. Yes, I know it seems a bit much, but it kept me from the horror I experienced that afternoon.
3. If they judge, you don’t need them: Motherhood is hard enough without the few who never make mistakes (they’re lying) standing in judgment of those of us who do. If you make a mistake and someone gives you a hard time about it or questions your ability to be a good parent as a result, you really don’t need them in your life.
Now, I have to be clear about one thing; a kid with a poopy diaper in your car is a minor parenting foible. But there are some mistakes, like overlooking the proper installation of a car seat or leaving a baby unattended, can never be allowed to happen.
The thing about motherhood is that sometimes you’ll feel you’re batting a thousand; other times you’ll wonder why you’ve been entrusted to care for something so small and helpless. And sometimes those feelings will come on the same day. Along with the above tips, I would add this, understand you are not the first to make whatever the dreaded mistake is, nor will you be the last. You, and your child, will survive it; heck, kids have been doing it since the beginning of time. Take comfort in that.
Good luck mommy!
-Rene Syler, aka Good Enough Mother