Whenever my mom friends and I get together, even if it’s under the pretext of “book club,” we end up yapping about the kids—the good, the bad and the ugly. Mostly it’s the ugly, as it can be comforting to share your childrearing blunders—like that time you forgot to latch your daughter’s car seat after preschool pick-up and only realized it a quarter mile from your house when she announced it to you with reproach from the backseat—and discover that other parents make similar boneheaded moves.
If you’ve been parenting a child more than a few hours, you’ve probably already goofed up, starting with forgetting to take the ubiquitous “going home from the hospital outfit” photo of your newborn, which means she’ll never believe you love her as much as her older sister, whose first day home image/video archive exceeds 300 megabytes (this keeps me up at night).
If you’ve been parenting more than a few months, you’ve probably even identified your Worst Parenting Moment Ever.
But you’d be wrong! That’s because Worst Parenting Moments are like the gobs of snot streaming from my kids’ nostrils November to April—they just keep coming!
It’s O.K., though, because Worst Parenting Moments—let’s call them WPMs—are your battle scars. They give you the parenting street cred and confidence that lets you stare down that disapproving old lady at the grocery store and say, “Yeah, my 2-year-old still sucks a binky. You got something to say about it?”
Also, it’s highly likely a fellow parent has experienced the same disasters or can share even worse war stories that will make you feel that much better about your own frontline kid care campaigns. That’s what this column will provide. And to prove to you that I have the chops to write it, here are a few of my own WPMs:
1. The time my child fell down the stairs. (Thirteen steps of hardwood and, amazingly, not a scratch. At 2-and-a-half, she, thankfully, was still made of rubber.)
2. The second time my child fell down the stairs (incredibly, while grasping my hand).
3. The time I fell down the stairs while holding my child. (Her worst injury: being “squeezed too hard” by mommy trying to buffer her landing.)
4. The time I ever so quietly, gingerly and, as it turns out, insufficiently latched the drop-side crib bar into place, and the baby tumbled out when she stood up and leaned on it the next morning. (FYI: These drop-side cribs have since been recalled because of rock star moms like me.)
5. The time I tenderly lowered my sleeping child into what I thought was her crib, but, actually, it was the floor next to the crib. (It was really dark! And I was really sleep-deprived.)
6. The time my 4-year-old fell off a dining chair, yanking the tablecloth and some burning candles down with her. (She was totally fine. Our dinner guests were totally horrified.)
7. The time my 1-year-old covertly unlatched herself in the stroller and began wiggling to freedom, and a passerby had to shout at me from across the street, “Your baby is falling out!”
And this isn’t nearly the extent of my parenting slip-ups, physical or otherwise. In the grand scheme of motherhood, however, what really matters when you’ve fallen down literally or figuratively (assuming 911 need not be called) is getting up and soldiering on, right? That, and keeping a running list of these moments to remind yourself of that time you really screwed up.
Katherine Ludwig is a local freelance writer, a recovering lawyer and a trial-by-fire parent of two incredibly accident-prone but resilient (and forgiving) young daughters.