Confessions of an Imperfect Mom

Motherhood is loaded with guilty moments. Fortunately, angels abound.

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He was an angel of God sitting there with ashes on his forehead, eating sushi and waiting to help us. I couldn't have lucked out more. A former lifeguard, he had swum the polar bear swim competition in his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. By the time I had one strap off my shoulder, he had the boy with one hand and was swimming with him toward the nearest ladder.

Accidents happen. I've been hearing those two words more than I'll ever care to in the last month. We read about accidents every day in the paper. A truck plummets off an overpass onto a busy highway at rush hour, killing people in the cars below. A water taxi capsizes in gusty winds, leaving 25 people stranded in the water.

But when accidents happen to moms, we feel responsible. And very, very guilty.

I've heard my share of mom horror stories since everyone read about my afternoon with the ducks. A good friend of mine didn't mean to give her two kids food poisoning when she fed them bad meatballs, which they threw up for a day and a half. Another friend turned her back for a second to find her two-year-old at the bottom of some stairs with a broken arm. The stories go on and on. Most with happy endings, like mine. Others with devastating conclusions.

"So how does someone recover from something like that? How do you trust yourself again?" I asked my mom, who raised four girls within four years of each other and had her share of near misses.

"I guess like everything else," she responded. "You put one foot in front of the other, do the best you can, and know that God has his angels surrounding you and your children."

Life is full of sweet ironies. On the eve of the publication date of my new book, "I Love Being a Mom," I call up my own mom in tears, confessing that I am not cut out for this job, and blaming her and everyone else for not warning me. But then I look into my daughter's deep blue eyes, and hear my son's laughter in the next room, and I decide not to give them up for adoption to a more fit parent.

I may not be perfect at it, but I do love being a mom. And I pray like crazy.

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