A change of perspective turned a mom's negative experience into a positive one.
If you’re a working mom, you’re probably no stranger to mistakes. When family and work are both priorities in your life, there is always going to be something that just doesn’t go as planned.
Some days, I kill it. Other days, I fail miserably.
The good news is that even when I fail, it’s usually in an under-the-radar kind of way, like last week when my son’s teacher emailed to say we’d forgotten to sign up for a parent-teacher conference slot. Thankfully, the issue was swiftly and quietly resolved, and nobody had to know about it. Phew.
Other times, however, my missteps are on full public display for everyone to see.
Take for example, my daughter’s spring break vacation.
I have two children (a 7- and 9-year-old) and they attend two different schools, which means I’m constantly getting dates, times, activities, bake sales and requests for Easter eggs mixed up.
My daughter’s spring break was scheduled for April 17th-21st, and I booked two non-refundable cruise tickets for April 7th–13th. I guess I missed the “1” in front of the “17” and rolled with it. And to my horror, when I realized my mistake, it was too late to fix it. The cruise and airline tickets couldn’t be changed without incurring enormous fees, so I had no choice but to take my daughter out of school for an entire week right before her spring break.
I was so mortified by my mistake that I couldn’t bring myself to tell her teacher. I wrote the email at least ten times. “Hey there…so this funny thing happened. I’m an idiot and booked a vacation for the wrong week! Silly me.” I was too chicken to send it, so I asked my daughter to “casually mention it” to her teacher and ask for any make-up schoolwork to take with her. Shameful, I know. I just couldn’t do it. I was too embarrassed.
It wasn’t until a day before our cruise that my perspective suddenly changed. While my daughter and I were getting our nails done, I told the owner of the nail salon about my mistake by putting myself down, “I know. I know. Just call me Mother of the Year, right?”
His response almost knocked me off my chair. He said, “You’re damn right you are! Wow. Two weeks off from school and a cruise vacation with your mom. That definitely makes you Mother of the Year!”
Holy crap, I love men.
I had assumed I was a bad mother for booking the wrong week for vacation, but maybe I was a great mother because I was not only giving my daughter an awesome vacation, but also two weeks off from school.
In my reflection, I realized that I was so concerned about what my daughter’s teacher would think of me that I was blinded from seeing what was right in front of me—a great mom getting ready to experience a great vacation with her first-born child. Period. End of story.
Once I put aside the self-doubt that had been dragging me down, I was able to see the situation in a whole new light and appreciate the life lessons that rested beneath the surface.
1. Seek the silver lining. Maybe my daughter would remember this vacation even more because I’d inadvertently given her a two-week break instead of one.
2. Don’t complain about what you can’t change. There was nothing I could do to fix my mistake, so I decided to embrace it and make the most of it.
3. Everything happens for a reason. Much to my surprise, it dawned on me that I couldn’t have taken her on a vacation during her actual spring break because it was the same week as my husband’s annual conference for work and he’d be gone the entire week—leaving no one to watch our son. I guess this was the universe’s way of making sure we got a vacation!
These three principles are things I talk about all the time, but I guess I had to get out of my own way in order to see them. This exercise reminded me of my favorite Wayne Dyer quote: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I decided to let go of my mistake because my mistakes don’t make me a bad mom, they make me human. And thank goodness I did, because it made for a happier vacation and much happier Mom.
Written by Katherine Wintsch for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.