Free pass

Yesterday Facebook offered me the chance to do a promo coupon for the AskMoxie Facebook site. I was allowed (for free, this first time) to offer a discount or offer and people could click through to redeem it. I decided to try it out, so I put up the following offer:

"Free pass. One free pass for anything you could have done better today with your kids."

13 people clicked through to "redeem" it. But holy cats! The private conversations I had from people thanking me for that offer.

So here's the offer for you from me here, not on FB. You don't have to click through, and it doesn't expire:

You get a pass when you do something you could have done better. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. You're a good parent, and you do a good job, and when you make a misstep it's just a misstep. Even a whole week of bad days is a week of bad days. You're smart and loving, and you'll figure out how to get into a better pattern.

Your kids are lucky to have you.


If you have anything to say (a confession, or lament), or want to offer anything to anyone else, post it here.

46 thoughts on “Free pass”

  1. I spent my afternoon yesterday sobbing on my daughter’s bedroom floor after she refused to take a nap and I had a full meltdown (too exhausted and too many hours spent trying to hold a screaming toddler in the effort to just get at least a 30 minute break.) Its amazing to me how quickly sleep (or really lack thereof) breaks me and makes me feel like such a complete failure. So I needed the pass – and this reminder today that this is a rough moment and her life will be filled with so many more moments of me hugging and smiling and laughing with her than crying and being angry about sleep.

  2. Just in time for Yom Kippur!I want to apologize to my 14 month old, because while I love her, I don’t like her very much right now and I hope she doesn’t ever sense that. I regularly question why we had her because she is payback for how easy my son was (and we thought he was so hard). She kicks my butt daily-between the not sleeping, the screaming, the shrieking, the picky eating, the neediness, and the clinginess. She is not the child I signed up for when I *reluctantly* agreed to have another, so I am sure this is the universe’s way of laughing at me, and karma getting me back for every bad thing I’ve ever done. Not sure how I will make it to 18 let alone the terrible twos.

  3. Thank you for this! When things get rough, I have a tendency to feel like its EVERYTHING, instead of just a rough day or couple days. The kindness of this post is much appreciated.

  4. I’d like to use my free pass for something that happened over the summer. Is that allowed? I got in a yelling fight with my 6 year old who was speaking to me disrespectfully. He was “hurt” by slipping in the bathtub or something and was blaming me and I yelled “I don’t care if your arm is cut off! You don’t speak to me that way!” Of course all he heard was that I didn’t care if his arm was cut off and not the rest (6 year olds don’t get subtlety apparently). He was crushed and thought I wanted to cut off his arm and started crying really hard. I’d never seen him so mad at me or hurt by me and I immediately felt terrible. Not my most shining moment as a mother…

  5. This pregnancy is just sucking the life out of me and I’m trying so hard but still failing. Today I managed to get us all out the door to ballet lesson on time BUT I left the front door open, unlocked and the burglar alarm off. Luckily we weren’t burgled. Last week I smashed the wing mirror of the car (nobody hurt, other car wing mirror fine) and the week before that I left a cardigan I bought in the shopping trolley. I think I need a free pass every week but thank you for today’s.

  6. Yesterday afternoon I told my son that I’d been hurt when he’d left for school refusing my hug, angry. That might have been ok, but I think I went too far for an 8yo when I told him that “we don’t know whether a person’s day will get better or worse after we see them… or if they’ll get hit by a car. Try to not leave someone when you’re feeling angry at them because it might be the last thing you ever do to them.”

  7. thanks, i really need tots are 1 year + 10 days apart (currently 3 months shy of 4 and 3). i feel like my husband and i are losing control. there is a lot of yelling (on our part), whining, crying, fighting (on their part) and i hate it. it’s dreadful. i feel like a sucky mother. i love them to bits but they drive me nuts. i’m a WOHM and i miss them but it’s also when i get a break. i.just.can’
    i keep telling myself, 5 and 4. thats the magic number to reclaim some sanity right?? all clear from the terrible 2’s and 3’s? when can i broker a deal with them? i promise not to nag if you promise not to whine?
    (((((hugs)))) to everyone else needing this free pass also.

  8. Thank you. I needed that this week, a week in which my patience and sense of humor too often went missing. But yesterday my son and I apologized to each other. My husband and I apologized to each other. We started again, together, and then we remembered it was the eve of Yom Kippur. And so we go on.Also, @hnahk, I hear you, and i’ve been there (if only with one, not two). It does get so, so much better at 4. You will be OK. 5 and 6 are pretty wonderful.

  9. My 2 yr old and I had a really difficult 6hr flight last week, which I would call one of my most challenging parenting days yet. But passing him into Daddy’s arms at the other end and a good night of sleep for us all let us wake up again with sunshine. My biggest wish for all parents having a rough day is to get a good rest that night. Makes a world of difference.

  10. Oh, what perfect timing. Yelled at my two-year old today because she kept trying to move the changing pad from underneath her very poopy butt (I had her on the living room carpet, FAIL). And she gave me a big smile every time she did it, too. I left her naked in the playroom so I could go slam a door and scream into a pillow for a minute. And none of it would have happened if I hadn’t been falling asleep during “quiet time” (aka, the time I refuse to do anything but nurse or read to her in an attempt to quiet her down for naptime) while she played heedlessly with her toys. Guess my daughter isn’t the only one who’s cranky when people wake her up before she’s ready.

  11. I need a pass for my potty training failure. I cannot for the life of me get my son to poop on the potty and even pee is difficult he actually holds his pee. My pass is needed because my frustration is showing big time. I can’t seem to hide it. I find the entire process so difficult.

  12. Oh what perfect timing…Just lost my temper with my Kindergartener when she threw a tantrum about doing a homework assignment. Bad behavior on both our parts…

  13. Great timing for sure! Right now I feel like I need a ‘pass’ every day. We are going on three weeks of ‘bad days’ with constant battles about everything with my almost 5 year old son. He has Sensory Processing Disorder along with extreme anxiety – especially in new situations. He start a Pre-K program at a new school this year, and while school is going much better, his behavior at home has been awful. On the advice of his occupational therapist, we are waving the white flag and will be consulting a behavioral analysist/psychologist this week. Add in a 2.75 year old (who acts like the typical almost 3 year old) and being 18 weeks pregnant with number three – and I have been feeling like the world’s ‘worst’ mom lately. Thanks for the reminder to be kind to myself, that this too shall pass, and that even a week of bad days (or in our case, a month) is just that – some bad days and not a indicator of how things will be forever.

  14. I feel like I need a pass most days lately with my 3-year-old. Yesterday she was screaming at me when I was in the middle of a conversation with (non-social) conversation and I finally bent down and growled, “I AM SPEAKING. You will have to wait until I am done.” She looked shocked and so did the two people I was talking to. I felt so ashamed. Thanks for this.

  15. @Nikki, I do that frequently and actually consider it good parenting. Maybe it’s a difference in kids, though because for four and a half years my kid has not let me have a conversation with anyone other than him, and that’s just not sustainable.I’m getting a lot out of reading everyone’s stories here, and feeling less alone.

  16. @Laura up near the top – I struggled with my daughter when she was that age. She was needy and demanding in ways my son never was (and I very much wanted another baby, so that has nothing to do with it). At two, she is coming in to her own and so much more fun. She can still be demanding, and she’s a funny mix of extremely independent but very shy in new situations. She’s developing a wicked sense of humour though. Hopefully, you will get past this stage and move in to one of the more delightful ones. (I’m realizing I love the age of two, but I’m scared of three).

  17. I am so. Taking this pass for last Sunday. I caved on 4 or 5 things we’ve been working on lately with L, and just felt like I was doing a really crappy job of it all.

  18. can i get a pass for having been way to anxious about nearly everything the last 23 months? i finally feel like i’m coming into my own or actually back into myself as a mom, finally feeling a bit of levity about it all. but ugh!

  19. I agree with Susan, cut out and keep (and laminate) free pass is a great first page for your book!Until just now it didn’t occur to me that my son is lucky to have me, I spend so long thanking my lucky stars I have him and feeling bad about all the things I do ‘wrong’ the idea that things are actually generally pretty good for him is quite novel. Thank you!

  20. Hmmmm. Maybe I should take a pass for that time the girls ran to me and told me one of those horrifying bugs with the zillion legs was in their room–I went into their room, saw it–and it was huge and sooo disgusting. I held out my arms in a “I got this maneuver, no sweat, girls” type manner, reached down with a wad of paper towel so I could pick it up and take it outside. As I stood up, I felt something on my arm AND IT WAS ON MY ARM CRAWLING ON MY ARM and I threw my hands in the air, danced around like I was possessed, and then ran out of their room, screaming my head off. Basically, leaving them to fend for themselves. The lesson was “Every woman for herself, girls!” I feel kind of bad about it, so I’ll take the pass for that little incident. Oh, can I also grab a pass for that time Eldest and I were on the pirate ship ride at the fair? But it’s best we don’t speak of that, I guess.

  21. I have been afraid to admit (yet another failure) that I needed to increase my zoloft dose; things in my life have been very very difficult over the past year, but when I did and they upped it, I felt better immediately. It’s been since Friday that I’ve been on the higher dose and I’ve noticed a huge difference. Thank you for the free pass- I will use it to forgive myself for how I’ve been acting/reacting for so long, because it was understandable in the circumstances and I’m only human.

  22. I daily feel guilty that I am not living up to how I “Should parent.”They watch too much tv/screen time, eat too much processed food. It seems harder and not easier as they get older. As they get older I can’t screen how we present ourselves and our parenting to the world. They boldly demonstrate our authentic selves to the world unabashed, while I sit back cringing.
    In the midst of all of that, I loose my temper, use harsh words, harsh tones of voice, model the behavior I do not want from them. Find less room and time in my heart and day to shower them with love than they deserve.
    So I will take the pass, I am a good parent to my children. Thanks.

  23. In the midst of unpacking after a move which involved 3 weeks of living with the in-laws (it was supposed to be less than a week) with the dubious assistance of a 26/27 month old who is bringing her own special brand of drive momma crazy to the stress-party.DH told me I’m starting to turn into “evil/scary mommy” which depresses me but makes total sense as LO has already learned how to push my buttons harder than anyone ever. Do I get a pass for looking forward to her starting 2x/week preschool next week so I can get a break?

  24. Wow… the offer of the pass just brought tears to my eyes.I can’t think of a specific example to use it for… but the constant crush of uncertainty in life about “did I do that right/I should have done this instead” is daunting. In parenting, in work and in relationships. We need to hear your words more often so that we don’t get flattened by the doubts.

  25. @Nikki – I agree with @anon: you’re doing a great job! Teaching kids to respect other people’s boundaries has got to be one of the most important social and empathy lessons there is. I think you did the right thing – it would have been a mistake not to have addressed that type of public disrespect immediately.

  26. I swore at my 3 year old last night. And she has a bit of a cold and can’t really get her nose blowing coordinated (she inhales instead of blowing out) and she sounds phlegm-y so I followed up swearing with telling her she was disgusting. I am still devastated by my words.

  27. I am taking the Free Pass as my kids sit watching yet another television show. If I were SuperMom, I’d keep them engaged in educational activities all day while I deal with a bunch of very necessary phone calls and emails this week. Instead, I’m just RegularMom, and I need to remind myself that they are perfectly happy to veg out. No permanent damage done, and we will soon be back to our usual routine of less TV once I have these odds and ends wrapped up.Nothing too dire, but it is easy for me to feel guilty about even a little TV. I am too much of a perfectionist, I guess. Just not this week.

  28. so they watch to much TV, the tv tray was invented so we could watch TV while we ate.If the kids are eating at the table for atleast one meal,they are doing better than the kids in the 50-60s. My kids the earliest memory was of me reading to them.Read more,play more. they will remember.

  29. Thank you so much Moxie. I’ll take the pass and let myself stop feeling guilty every time we get in the car and I exhale with utter relief because my 17 month old is finally, finally not clinging to some part of me or angrily demanding ‘Up Up Up’. I used to think (pre-baby) that having all that physical contact would be HAH! It’s a small thing (and there are plenty bigger) but it trips me up on a daily basis and I’d like to let it go. Thank you for reminding me I can.And yes put this in the book. Please please put this in the book.

  30. My pass is for my reaction to my kindergarten daughter. She was being a pill during her shower yesterday and wouldn’t get in the spray to rinse her hair. I kept telling her to move and she kept moving away from me. I tried guiding her by the shoulders and she yanked away, so I pulled her by the pile of soapy hair on top of her head and she slipped and fell and cried for 20 minutes. I told her if she had listened to me she wouldn’t have fallen. Shameful behavior. I’d like to blame it on stress from the dog dying, but that is not a good reason.I agree with those that say you should include a free pass cut out in your book. We all need one and when I saw this post it brought tears to my eyes.

  31. Thank you for this. I’ll have to explain why I’m grateful for your pass another time, because right right I’m too busy sobbing. Your blog is a lifeline.

  32. I am not even a mother but I like reading these posts. It feels like a great support area…every one can get their frustrations out and everyone else knows what that feels like. 🙂

  33. Thank you for this! My almost 2 year-old daughter absolutely would not rinse her mouth after brushing her teeth. I asked her about 10 times and finally I lost my temper and yelled at her. She burst into tears that turned into sobs and I just let her cry. After waiting 5 minutes I said she didn’t need to rinse her mouth but she was in time out because she didn’t listen to me. She cried during her 2 minute time out and finally I went over to her and she crawled into my arms, sobbing. I apologized to her for yelling at her, but said that she wasn’t listening to mommy so it made me upset. I hate it when I lose my temper and end up yelling at her….

  34. Thanks for this (and for the opportunity to read everyone else’s, which helps me feel less alone). OK, here’s the one that’s been sticking in my craw. Situation: yesterday morning, at the mall, attempting to buy new shoes for my almost-4-year-old. He is being SUCH A THREE-YEAR-OLD, which he’s been for, God, ONE WHOLE YEAR NOW. He’s fiddling with the foot measures, grabbing shoes off the shelves, fighting the salesperson and me, whining about trying on a couple pairs of shoes, and I finally pull together some small shreds of dignity and tell the salesperson, “Obviously, we’re not going to be able to finish this today, but thank you for your time.” Cram the kid into his stroller, since letting him walk through the mall to the car is a recipe for disaster. He resists, then commences putting his feet on top of the stroller wheels, which makes it nearly impossible to move. We inch along. Several nice requests that he move his feet. Several instances of cajoling and bright promises of speedy trips home, lunchtime delights, and naptime snuggles. Several muttered threats. Finally, I stop the stroller and let go. I begin to walk ahead of him, as if to leave him behind. I take no more than half a dozen steps before I hear the tears begin and the words “Don’t leave me! I will be good now.” I go back to get him, and we conclude our trip to the car without a hitch. I know I got some dirty and/or disbelieving looks. I am a bad mother and probably in one fell swoop undermined my child’s sense of security. I need a Free Pass on this one.

  35. Lack of sleep has turned me into the exact opposite of the parent I thought I’d be – impatient, tense and generally cranky every day. :(Thank you for this.

  36. Thank you for this. It’s what I was needing and looking for without realizing it.I’m @ 11weeks pregnant with my second child. I’ve been nauseous and exhausted, with a driving headache for the past month.
    My DS is almost 18 months. I am trying to gently wean him but it’s not working — this week, every time he sees me sitting or lying down he wants to nurse, frantically, desperately (I suspect he’s teething). But I am nursed out. It’s extremely painful right now, like ground glass in my nipples.
    I just spent a total of 2-1/2 hours getting him down for a nap. At one point I tried to get him down for the nap by lying next to him — big mistake. Of course, he wanted to nurse. I said no to the nursing, “mama’s milk is sleeping,” and he threw a fit, trying to headbutt and kick meme. I shoved him off and yelled NO at him, and ended up sitting in the rocker in his room while he cried sitting on the bed, hysterical, staring at me. And eventually wound down and fell asleep.
    Then I snuck out of his room and, before I could get something in my stomach, vomited up the dregs of my breakfast till my throat burned.
    This is definitely not a day for the highlight reel.

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