Making The Most Of Your Mistakes

I’ve come to realize, but often forget, that happiness is simply a matter of perspective.

I’ll share my latest and greatest mistake as a way of illustrating this often-illusive fact of life. I have two children (7, 9) and they attend two different schools, which means I’m constantly getting dates, times, activities, bake sales and requests for Easter eggs mixed up. I’m not a details 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.

The good news is that even when I fail, it’s usually in an under-the-radar kind of way, like last week when my son’s teacher emailed to say we’d forgotten to sign up for a parent-teacher conference slot. Thankfully, the issue was swiftly and quietly resolved and nobody had to know about it. #phew

There are other times, however, when my missteps have been on full public display for everyone to see.

Because our kids are in two different schools, they have two different spring breaks. Since a full family vacation was out of the question, 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 my daughter’s mother is a knucklehead and accidentally booked a cruise to Mexico for the week before her school-sanctioned spring break.

Yep, you heard it here people.

Layla’s spring break was scheduled for April 17th-21st and I booked two non-refundable cruise tickets for April 7th-13th. I guess I missed the “1” in front of the “17” and rolled with it. And to my horror, when I realized my mistake, it was too late to fix it. The cruise and airline tickets couldn’t be changed without incurring enormous fees, so I had no choice but to take my daughter out of school for an entire week right before her spring break.

I was so mortified by my mistake that I couldn’t bring myself to tell Layla’s teacher. I wrote the email at least ten times. “Hey there….so this funny thing happened. I’m an idiot and booked a vacation for the wrong week! Silly me.” I was too chicken to send it so I got Layla to “casually mention it” to her teacher and ask for any make-up school work to take with her. Shameful, I know. I just couldn’t do it. I was too embarrassed.

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 was a 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 not only giving my daughter an awesome vacation, but also two weeks off school.

In my 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 whole 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 got in a vacation!

These three principles are things I talk about all the time, but I guess I had to get out of my own way in order to see them. 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.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.


Yes yes yes!!! I love your writing, your honesty and your POV!!! I’m overwhelmed by the volume of the kids school work; it’s perplexing and annoying (because I’m so uncomfortable being unorganized and ‘not a step ahead’) I confided in a friend who said she called her daughter’s 3rd grade teacher and started with “OK, so I have a Masters Degree, but” and I just burst out laughing and hugged her! Yeah, wow, we have to remind ourselves of who we are and preface our calls for clarity and help with explaining that we’re not looney tunes to get some HELP. Love it and you. Thanks.

Katherine Wintschreply
– In reply to: ELLIE HANNIBAL

Ha! No amount of higher education can prepare us for motherhood! Love it. Thanks for reading and sharing your story. It makes this crazy journey less lonely 🙂

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