Last week I naively thought I could handle taking all four children to the swimming pool by myself. For years I’ve avoided such feats.
My youngest two are a set of twins who turn 4 next month. When they were born I already had a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Four children, 5 years old and younger, limited my ability to venture out safely by myself. Now the children are older and I thought this summer would be different.
I loaded the children and their swim gear into the minivan and headed to a pool we had never been to before, confident I could do this. Maybe I could have managed, had the pool not been so crowded.
I was sitting on the grass, eating lunch with my boys and keeping an eye on my daughter while she swam. My oldest son, a beginning swimmer, decided the waterside looked more fun than the dessert I had packed. He dashed off. I tried to shout for him to come back but he didn’t hear me over the noise of all the other swimmers.
The slide emptied into 4 feet of water, and I thought he might be able to handle it. I watched him from a distance. When I didn’t see him surface, I jumped up, leaving the twins on the grass and ran toward my son, getting to the edge of the pool the same time the lifeguard pulled him out of the water.
You guys, a lifeguard had to save my son.
I couldn’t even let my mind imagine what might have happened had the lifeguard not been there, watching him. I blamed myself for not keeping my children all in the same place, or not being there at the bottom of the slide for him.
Had I posted a photo of the moment on Instagram (which I didn’t do), fear would have been evident in my eyes and the picture would have been followed by the hashtag #momfail, thus explaining in two words exactly how my day had gone.
I’ve had #momfail days before. For example, the day I ruined an easy crockpot dinner and then, while waiting for pizza, unknowingly fed peanut butter cookies to my peanut allergy twins, which resulted in an emergency trip to the doctor.
Thankfully, I only have really bad #momfail days a few times a year. Thankfully, that lifeguard was doing his job and saved my son.
No matter how hard I try, I will still have #momfail days. I’m not perfect and my days are not perfect because there is no perfect. The best any mom can do is work toward becoming her best self and do a better job tomorrow than she did today.
Through my own bad days and helping other moms with their bad days, I have found a couple of things we can all do to turn a #momfail day into a #momwin — or at the very least, #survival.
Steady your emotions
A recent study by a team at Saint Louis University focused on “second-hand stress” and how it spreads like a cold.
ABC News reports the research shows “stress can be passed through things like facial expressions, voice frequency, odor and touch.”
”While a person can catch stress from a stranger, studies have shown that you are four times more likely to get it from someone you know,” the report says.
The study went into detail about how babies can and do pick up on the stress of their mothers. It’s no surprise, the greater the mother’s stress, the greater the baby’s stress — and really, the greater the entire family’s stress.
I’ve noticed by leaving my emotions unchecked, I can turn a #momfail day into a #familyfail day. The day we spent at the pool last week was emotional and only spiraled once we arrived home. By evening, everyone in the house was ornery and upset.
Cut your losses
Just because your morning is a series of bad moments, doesn’t mean you can’t recover your day.
I love the words of best-selling author Dr. Steve Maraboli: “Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” Maybe a #momfail day doesn’t bring you to tears, but it certainly requires you to forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes and move past the moment.
Next time we go swimming, my boys will wear life jackets.
This article originally published on KSL.com