Forgiving Yourself For Past Mistakes

I will never forget my first meal after giving birth to my first son. It was 4 A.M. and the nurse brought in a package of Graham crackers and a small container of peanut butter. I hadn't eaten in 22 hours.  

I ripped open the package and devoured it, dropping little crumbs all over my newborn's head. I then ate the peanut butter like it was going out of style, even using my finger to scrape out the tiny bit I couldn't reach with my knife, or truth be told, my tongue. It was so graceful to watch, I'm sure. 

When my blood sugar finally leveled out, I began to try and feed my son for the third time since he was born. It wasn't easy, he knew what he was supposed to do, but I was still trying to figure it out.  I had to put my nipple in his mouth, and I used my finger to get his tongue down so I could put it in there. 

He too ate like he had never eaten before, come to think of it, he hadn't. When he finally finished, the nurse came in to take him to the nursery so I could rest. My husband left to take a shower at home, and I began to fall asleep until I was hit in the face with a punch called worry. It occurred to me that my baby could be allergic to peanuts, and I had just poisoned him. 

I frantically hit the call button for the nurse, called my husband, mom, sister, anyone and told them what I had done. Mind you, I had absolutely no basis to think that he was allergic to peanuts.   

By the time the nurse arrived, I had already begun to panic, I lost my temper and yelled at her. Thankfully, she ignored my insults and she assured me that my son was just fine. And he was. Looking back, I created something to worry about because everything just felt too perfect.

My biggest mistake was letting fear overcome my decision making process. Had I taken a deep breath and thought rationally, I wouldn’t have said the horrible things I said to her. Before I left the hospital I wrote a personal heartfelt apology to the young nurse. 

My son is now 12 and I have made several more mistakes since. We have all said or done something that we regret. What I have found is that the best way to deal with a past mistake is acknowledging it, apologizing if needed and forgiving yourself. 

Mistakes are going to happen. Just last week I took my third son to a birthday party that he had been looking forward to for a month. The problem was, we were a day late. He was heartbroken.  Since, I have made sure to double-check our Google calendar instead of relying on my memory. My son eventually forgave me and we had his friend over for a personal ice cream party.

If you dwell on the mistakes of your past, you cloud your ability to enjoy the present. I doubt my son will remember that we forgot the party, but he will remember having a whip cream fight with his buddy in the backyard.

If you find yourself focusing on your past mistakes, the following are a few simple ways of dealing with it:

If your mistake involves another person, apologize to them. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary to move on. Sometimes the person may not accept your apology, and that is okay. The process of making a sincere effort is the first step in correcting it.

First, cut yourself a little slack. Mistakes are excellent opportunities to improve on something that needs to be improved upon.

Move on.
Don’t get stuck in the past. Replaying a parenting low in your head is not going to change the outcome. The only thing that will, is not making the same mistake again in the future. 

The word mistake is defined two ways. One is a blunder. The second, is to make the wrong judgment of character.  

Don’t allow yourself to make to mistake yourself as someone who isn’t strong enough to overcome, because you can and will.

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