The Biggest Mom Fail of 2017 (So Far!)

photo of a boy rom behind sitting alone on a wall looking at the ocean

My youngest child is a senior in high school and in the process of looking at colleges. This summer, he did a few college visits with his older brother. At the end of the summer, I brought him and my daughter on a business trip with me to look at another school. We were flying to Washington, D.C. and our flight was delayed by an hour, which meant we had almost no time to drop our luggage off at the hotel and get to the college.

We made it to the school just in time, but we couldn’t seem to find the building where the information session was being held. Did I mention that it was very hot out, we were hungry, and I was nervous about the whole situation? We kept walking around the campus asking people for directions and each person told us a different way. I started to think we were on some comedy show where we were being punked by paid actors.

At one point, I was really annoyed and used my “I’m very angry but pretending I’m not” tone with one of the school’s employees, who also gave us the wrong directions. As we walked away from her my son said, “Mom, take a breath. It’s no big deal.” I’d like to tell you that I shrugged that comment off and we continued our pursuit, but that isn’t what happened. I lost it with my son, snapped at him, and threw an abbreviated swear word in his direction.

My daughter, who was clearly more mature at that moment than I was, called the school and told them where we were. They talked her through the steps to get to our destination, albeit fifteen minutes late. I immediately felt bad for snapping at my son and said, “I’m sorry I said that and you should be sorry for what you said too.” Yes, I said that and yes, I was at the maturity level of a ten-year-old when I spoke those words. Needless to say, my son ignored me.

We sat down at the information session and as I began to release some of my negative energy, I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Here I was with two of my children on an adventure to look at colleges and have some fun in a great city and I let my drive for perfection and being on time get the best of me. It’s something that I’ve worked so hard to change as a mother. It’s easy to not enjoy your children or parenthood when you are so worried about the details surrounding your family.

Learning From Our Parenting Fails

When we left the information session and started the walking tour, I gave my son a truly sincere apology and didn’t ask for one in return. He graciously apologized to me, and we ultimately had a good laugh at the silliness of the situation. I couldn’t take back what I had said to my son and I refuse to hold on to guilt in that it’s unproductive, so I took full ownership of my behavior and asked for forgiveness.

A calm and truly sincere apology is what our kids most need when we misbehave. #parenting #fail Click To Tweet

I’m not sure what lessons my kids learned from that experience, but I hope they learned that their mom is far from perfect, can admit that, and apologizes when she messes up. The rest of our trip was fabulous and my son and I did another college trip alone a few weeks later. I mentally prepared myself for the next trip in that it was forecasted to be one of the very hottest days of the year. It was going to be a long day for the two of us with travel and deadlines to meet. I’m happy to say it was one of the best days I’ve ever spent with my son. We laughed, talked, and enjoyed the crazy adventure of the day.

What’s the lesson I learned from my spectacular mom fail? I learned to watch for the red flags when I’m getting really cranky and stressed. Catch those moments and manage them before they get out of control. I also learned that a calm, and truly sincere apology is what my kids most need when their mom misbehaves. Isn’t that the truth for most of us?


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

headshot of Lisa KaplinCertified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.

I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


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Flying Into My Fears Thankful Today and Every Day
Flying Into My Fears
Thankful Today and Every Day