Mistakes are for Learning
Two weeks ago, I shared with you the story of Mistake Cake–the ingenious and compassionate way that a former high school classmate of mine teaches her kids about righting wrongs and supporting family members. She also gave me permission to share this post, in which she talks more about the gift of forgiving the mistakes of others and owning our own slip ups.
It started this way. When my kids were little, and they made a creative mess, or a mistake, or they were mean and regretful, I would say the same words. These words brought calm to me, even if I was unsettled inside:
“It’s okay. You’re learning.”
The words “you’re learning” are truthful, forgiving, and full of promise.
As the kids grew older, and I made mistakes in front of them, I learned to say, “I’m sorry. I’m learning.”
Once, I scolded my daughter for using stamps as stickers. Moments after my accusatory lecture, I determined that the stamps had caught a snag and become stuck because of where I had put them. My child was bewildered. She was little and had not lied. Yet there I stood before her, shaming her for being naughty. All the while, she had done absolutely nothing wrong. Thirteen years later, I can still feel the lump of guilt that sunk in my gut when I realized that I punished her for my mistake. “I’m SO SORRY for scolding you for something that you didn’t do! I’m learning. Please forgive me!” I cried. I dropped to my knees and hugged her and kissed her passionately, mournfully.
“It’s okay Mommy. You’re learning.”
The children are now throwing the ball out in front of the house. The smallest one repeatedly overthrows it. “Whoops! I’m sorry!” she yells.
The bigger one says, “It’s okay. You’re learning.”