Yesterday while scrolling through Facebook, I saw this post written by my friend Jess at Diary of a Mom:
She explained a conversation she had with her daughter about getting a Christmas gift for one of her aides.
Ultimately the post ended with Jess realizing she had unintentionally messed up and apologizing to her daughter.
I really liked the post, but I liked a comment she left for further explanation even better:
...”Please, please, please don’t tell me why I “did nothing wrong” or accept my apology on Brooke’s behalf. I screwed up, and that’s okay to say – I’m human; it’s perfectly on brand….”
I love this comment so much.
I come from a long line of women who never make mistakes, know the only right way to do things, and are never wrong. 😂
I can (sometimes) laugh about it now, but it has taken (and is still taking) a lot of hard work on myself to change this so I don’t continue the cycle.
Because I know what it’s like to grow up feeling like it’s not okay to make mistakes. And I know what it’s like to feel like no matter what you do, it will never be good enough.
I also know I grew up feeling like this because the women before me also grew up feeling like this.
It was what they learned.
It’s taken me years to get to this point, but I know better now.
And it’s up to me to change it for myself and for my daughters. And sons.
I grew up thinking messing up was bad. That I was a failure. And that if you mess up you should do two things: beat yourself up relentlessly for being so stupid and NEVER admit to doing anything wrong.
This is not a fun way to live and it’s also just really unhealthy.
The only way to learn and become better at something is to make mistakes.
I have made so many mistakes this year in my first season as the head coach of the girls’ high school swim team.
I’ve missed meetings, had the whole team show up for a practice that was cancelled, forgotten to order things, and handled interactions with swimmers and other coaches that I wish I could have a do-over for, among other things.
You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. That’s the challenge of being new at something.
But there is also the challenge of acknowledging what you’ve done wrong when you aren’t new at something.
The human experience is full of failures.
It’s the only way to learn and grow.
When you are learning to walk you don’t do it perfectly the first time.
Also, you don’t learn to walk in one specific moment and then you’ve mastered it.
Learning to walk is a process that takes months.
The more you practice the less you lose your balance and trip and fall.
But even after you’ve totally mastered walking there are still going to be times when you trip. And you fall.
EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE A MASTER AT WALKING.
Because the variables of life are always changing. On a crisp fall day in September, you may not have many obstacles in your way as you walk from the front door to your car.
Three months later, there might be a snow storm that makes the path from your car to the front door slippery.
And maybe on top of that you slept like crap the night before and you didn’t wake up early enough to shovel the walkway and you aren’t thinking very clearly because you are tired and you forgot something inside and you have to run back to the house and you have your arms full of stuff and you slip and fall in the snow and all your stuff flies everywhere and now your pants are soaked, you’re definitely going to be late, and you look like you just got run over by a snow plow.
You were walking the same path you’ve walked a thousand times before, but the variables changed.
And you didn’t anticipate all the variables (because that’s impossible).
This is what your whole life is like!
It’s always going to be full of variables that make each situation you are in unique.
Sometimes the variables don’t effect what’s going on.
Sometimes you’ll anticipate the variables and be ready.
Other times you won’t!
You are not going to make it through this life flawlessly.
Even if you are a master at something.
Even with 20 years of parenting under your belt, you are going to mess up.
Even with 30 years of teaching under your belt, you are going to mess up.
Even with 40 years of marriage under your belt, you are going to mess up.
As long as you are alive, life is going to present you with new variables.
Sometimes you’ll solve the equation on the first try.
Other times it’s gonna take you a little while to get the solution.
Imagine if you had grown up with a parent who embraced failure. Who celebrated it even!
Or one who at least took ownership of it and realized that acknowledging screw ups doesn’t mean you are a screw up.
Imagine if you grew up believing it was okay to mess up.
And then imagine if you grew up learning how to acknowledge your mess ups while still feeling okay about yourself afterward.
That’s what I’m working on with myself.
Because that’s something I’d feel really good about passing on to my kids.
And I hope I can deliver.
Owning your shit is crucial to growth.
We discuss this on Day 1 of