The Voice that Says, “You’re Doing it Wrong!”

“Those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something” – Unknown

What a great truth for a parent! No matter how many times I make mistakes, however, I still get frustrated with myself or the ensuing circumstance. Raising special needs kids provides lots of opportunities to make mistakes – in therapies, medications, behavior techniques and most other ways – so we all have lots of opportunity to be great learners! This story is about that journey for me…*


Darn it! I did it again!

This time it was my 4 year old who caught me. On the computer, working on things for my new business AFTER my timer (recently employed to help me try to have boundaries) beeped.

She’s a tyrant, so this time I owed her two giant hugs, 20 minutes of Shrek and a lollipop.

But I realized as we sat together to watch Shrek, that she wouldn’t let me snuggle next to her. I plopped her on my lap and gave her a hug instead, and she hit me!

OUCH! That stung! In more ways than one.

After that, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “Mommy, you LIED to me!”

My heart sank. I did, and I knew it. Even though what I was working on was important, and would help my next client, I promised my daughter one thing and did another. I lied. I did the exact opposite of what I expect of my kids in one of our “top 5” family character values.

Which is when the other voice chimed in: You’re doing it wrong!

It was that annoying voice inside that’s taunted me since I was a child trying desperately to fix a broken world around me. Since I was 7, I decided that if I did things right, life would be okay. Which, as a parent, is as useless a proposition as keeping my puppy from chewing on my new running shoes. Because life is messy. Family is messy. Love is messy. And I, despite my best efforts to prove otherwise, am kind of a mess.

But, you’re doing it wrong! The voice persisted.

I looked at my little girl, now (thankfully) snuggling into my arms, felt my smarting cheek, and told the voice to SHUT UP FOR ONCE!

Instead, I held her tight and said, “You’re right. Mommy made a mistake, kiddo. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

“Okay, mommy,” She said. “But that’s gonna cost an extra 5 minutes of Shrek with me.”

Which I dutifully watched, glad for her forgiveness. And for that little bit of growth that comes from living through what we don’t think we can (like a perfectionist making a mistake and coming out the other side in tact!) It’s been the most healing part of my life as a mom: the discovery that even when I’m “doing it all wrong,” with my heart in the right place, things usually turn out alright.

How do you handle it when you make a mistake?


*Originally published at Living Power on 19 June 2010.

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