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Making the Most of Your Mistakes

Making the Most of Your Mistakes

We all make mistakes. It’s part of life. But the problem is we’re typically so quick to beat ourselves up for the mishap that we don’t pause to give ourselves grace and see what lessons are meant to be learned from our mistakes.  

There’s a lot to be learned when things go wrong. I’ll share a recent mistake as a way of illustrating this hard-to-digest fact.  

I have two children and they attend two different schools, which means I’m constantly getting dates, times, activities and requests mixed up. I’m not a detailed person and the volume of details coming through my inbox on a daily basis from two different schools regarding things to study, prepare, buy, make and remember often feels like a test.

Some days I pass the test and some days I fail.

This time I failed. Because our kids are in two different schools, they have two different spring breaks – one in March and one in April. Since a family vacation with the whole family won’t work with this schedule, this year my husband and I decided to divide and conquer. He’d take our son on a trip and I’d take our daughter.

The boys’ trip was in March and it went off without a hitch. Good job, dad.

The girls’ trip, on the other hand, was a bit more problematic because I read the email wrong and accidentally booked a cruise to Mexico for the week before my daughter’s  school-sanctioned spring break.

Yep, you heard that right.

Layla’s spring break was scheduled for April 17th-21st and I booked two non-refundable cruise tickets for April 7th-13th. And to my horror, the cruise and airline tickets couldn’t be changed without incurring enormous fees, so I decided to take my daughter out of school for an entire week right before her spring break.

Gulp.

In the weeks leading up to the cruise, I candidly joked with my friends over cocktails about my gaff. We all make mistakes and it made me feel human to laugh about my own. However, the real perspective-shifting conversation happened in a nail salon three days before setting sail.

While Layla and I were getting our nails done, I told the owner of the nail salon about my mistake by putting myself down, “I know. I know. Just call me mother of the year, right?”

His response almost knocked me off my chair. He said, “You’re damn right you are!! Wow. Two weeks off school and a cruise vacation with your mom. That definitely makes you mother of the year!”

Holy crap, I love men.

Being Mother of the Year seemed like a joke to me, but it felt like fact to him. Life is a matter of perspective, and in that moment, my perspective completely changed.

“He’s right,” I thought.

I had assumed I was a bad mother for booking the wrong week for vacation, but maybe I was a great mother because I was giving my daughter a wonderful trip and setting her up for a two week break from school.

Upon reflection, I realized that I was so concerned about what Layla’s teacher would think of me that I was blinded from seeing what was right in front of me – a great mom getting ready to experience a great vacation with her first-born child. Period. End of story.

Once I put aside my self-doubt that had been dragging me down, I was able to see the situation in a new light and appreciate the life lessons that rested beneath the surface.

  1. Seek the silver lining. Maybe Layla would remember this vacation even more because I’d inadvertently given her a two-week break instead of one.
  2. Don’t complain about what you can’t change. There was nothing I could do to fix my mistake so I decided to embrace it and make the most of it.
  3. Everything happens for a reason. Much to my surprise, it dawned on me that I couldn’t have taken Layla on a vacation during her actual spring break because it was the same week as my husband’s annual conference for work and he’d be gone the entire week – leaving no one to watch our son. I guess this was the universe’s way of making sure we actually got a vacation!

This exercise reminded me of my favorite Wayne Dyer quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I changed my definition of what being mother of the year means and it made for a much happier vacation.

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Katherine Wintsch