My wise little first born has a way of taking in the world and spitting it back in the wisest and most wondrous little sound bites. One night last year, I apologised to her for making a mistake, I had forgotten to wash her snuggle blanket (she calls it whitey) and so I was trying to tuck her into bed without it… I explained that mummy had made a big mistake, I had been running around like a crazy busy lady and had forgotten to put whitey in the dryer, so he was all wet and I was very very sorry I was hoping at best she might not throw a tantrum about the fact I was trying to tuck her into bed without her beloved whitey… but her understanding and empathy floored me.
We all make mistakes. It doesn’t mean we want to, in fact as they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions, good intentions are wonderful, good actions are better. What do you do when you fall off the bandwagon and f&%k up?
Having worked in large corporates for most of my career, I witnessed all of the archetypes when it comes to F&%k Ups but I won’t share those, instead I’ll use a few of my own family stories to demonstrate (he he, they will love this #not)…
You know, I was there once. Making mistakes felt like the end of the world, so blaming someone else was easier. I carved my sisters name into our piano when I was 6, she was 3 and the best she could manage was ‘Ki-Ti-Pi’, so when Mum and Dad spotted ‘KATHARINE’ clearly carved into the piano, they immediately assumed it was me (correctly). Without skipping a beat, I was in defence mode “Why would I carve her name into the piano, really! It was her!!”. Blaming feels awful, I felt awful even as I was saying it, little Kat there with her big blue eyes was looking at me with this puzzled expression while I tried to get her in trouble for my mistake.
The Sweep under the carpeter
Perhaps if you pretend like it isn’t even a big deal, then people won’t worry about it? Right? Wrong. I spilt nail polish remover on Mum and Dad’s special table they bought eachother for their anniversary. It was the first piece of ‘posh’ furniture they ever owned and they were so proud of it. I tried to cover it up with a pot plant and then casually brushed it off when they asked me about it. They were not happy. They were super sad actually, worst than just not happy or sad…they were disappointed (ugh, isn’t that the actual worst thing parents can be?).
The Over compensator
You know when you make a little mistake but a big fuss? Man, that can be just as annoying. A few Christmases ago, Mum dropped the turkey as we took it out of the oven and went into meltdown mode (sorry Mum), the thing about my Mum is, she is the most composed and calm and together woman I know. I think I’ve seen her cry maybe 4 times. She is seriously cool, calm and collected and the opposite of high drama, you get the picture… so when she went into meltdown over the dropped turkey , we were all stood there in shock – why was she making such a big deal? It was just a dropped turkey…(which we claimed 10 second rule on and continued to demolish…. and it was delicious). I think that’s where that age old “Don’t make mountains out of mole hills” saying comes from!
The Own it
I should call this the Sienna way. When she was little, she would come in “Mummy, I made a mess, I sorry, I will help clean it up”, such a simple statement that did the job. She took responsibility without too much emotion and put a plan in place. Legend. Imagine if all the adults did this?? Fast forward and Stella does the same “mummy, I broke it, sorry mummy” #proudaspunch – what is the worst that can happen if we simply own it, apologise, understand that we all make mistakes and do our best to learn, try not to make the same mistake again and move on??
Sounds simple but it’s not. Try and notice today how many times you avoid, cover up or assign blame for even simple mistakes… I’m making lots of mistakes as a mother, but one thing I try really hard to do is to be honest about them, recognise them, learn from them and upgrade my thinking along the way. Sharing my mistakes and owning it has role modelled this behaviour for my kids, so while they are still loud, bossy, high energy, crazy little humans who need a lot more practice with their manners, they are capable of owning their mistakes, apologising and learning from their mistakes… bigger picture these are the skills I want them to hold onto for life.
So next time you stuff up, think like Sienna and Stella: Own it, learn from it, play on.