“Mistakes are simply opportunities for learning”
This has been my parenting motto for a long time. It took me a while to get my head around the concept but thanks to some amazing mentors, I’ve grown to embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. Every spilled glass of juice, every blow-out sibling fight, every broken glass, every mommy freak out I remind myself of this mantra. Sometimes I say it to myself through gritted teeth and sometimes it takes me a few minutes (or hours) to remember it but I always come back to learning the lesson from each misstep.
This might sound extreme but the fear of failing can be paralyzing. Think of the child who won’t raise their hand in class for fear of sounding dumb. Or the kid who won’t try a new sport because they don’t want to fail at it and look foolish. And the same goes for adults – how often have you had a brilliant idea or thought but never shared it because of the fear of what someone might say? Or had a big blowout with your child and been too afraid to just apologize and move on because you don’t want to admit your shortcomings?
Trust me, I’ve been there. But I have to say it really does make life more enjoyable if you can start to let go of the fear of mistakes and just embrace them as opportunities for learning and then move on. Ultimately, we set the tone for how mistakes are handled in our home and if our kids are ok flubbing up from time to time they will try more things, be more adventurous and in the end have a freer, happier and richer experience of life.
The same principle can be applied to my cooking. As I’ve transitioned to plant-based diet I’ve made a lot of clunkers along the way. And I mean A LOT! (cakes that never set, cookies as hard as rocks, lentil meatloaf that stuck to the tinfoil, ranch-flavoured kale chips that made my oldest son’s gag reflex kick in. I could go on but you get the idea ; )
Last night I had the best-laid plans to make a delicious vegetable pot-pie that I was planning to share on my blog. Tons of hearty winter veggies, a thick gravy, hand-rolled pastry….it all sounds so good right? Well the reality was a different story. It was a runny unattractive mess and the taste was somewhere between bland and inedible.
My husband (bless his heart) ate 2 helpings but I can always tell when he doesn’t like something by the amount of time he holds it in his mouth – like he’s trying to convince himself to swallow. And this sat in his mouth for quite some time. The kids barely touched theirs and I threw mine in the food waste bin after only a couple of small tastes.
So here’s what I learned from this mistake:
- Soy sauce and cornstarch do not a gravy make.
- Watery veggies will make a pastry mushy and impossible to cut.
- Sunbutter and jam sandwiches aren’t a half -bad Sunday night dinner.
Yep – I messed up. But after a moment of self-pity, I was able to laugh it off and enjoy the rest of my evening with my family. I encourage you keep trying, learning and making mistakes. Sometimes we all fall on our faces but if we keep moving forward we will be more likely to stumble upon something amazing (I’m thinking specifically of the rich fudgey brownies I turned out for dessert….I’ll share those tomorrow!)