6 Parents Share Their Most Embarrassing Parenting Moments Ever

published Apr 25, 2022
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Family of four playing on the couch in front of a bright window. Dad and son turn towards each other, while daughter leans over mother, who is smiling.
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What is your most embarrassing parenting moment?

Mine is definitely the time I sent my older son, Henry, to third grade with metal screws mixed in his bag of shredded cheese lunch (the shredded cheese alone could be the embarrassing part). 

I was at work when I got a call from the elementary school principal who had been grilling his pals to “get to the bottom” of who would have done such a thing.

“That’s so weird,” I said. “How could something like that happen?”

Then I checked in with my husband. 

And this is how the call back to the principal went: “Hi, about the screws: So my husband took them out of our AC window unit and left them on the counter in a baggie and I must have used that baggie for Henry’s lunch.” 

When it comes to mega-mortification, it’s hard to top having to tell the head of your child’s school that it wasn’t bullying or a food production mishap that put dirty hardware in your little guy’s lunch — no, it was just your disorganized household.

But who am I kidding, it’s never pretty at our place. I sent the same child to school in his pajamas on not-pajama day and dropped the other one off at a birthday party one week early. 

Really, what parent hasn’t done something similarly mortifying?

An unscientific poll of my friends reveals approximately 100 percent of them have their own cringey moments. 

Take my former co-worker Lizzie, who agreed to chaperone a middle school trip. She imagined a bonding experience filled with moments of awe and wonder alongside the students.

What she got instead: 14 hours a day of unpaid labor corralling hormonal middle-schoolers. “Nobody told me there would be activities from 7 a.m. to bedtime,” she says. “I was exhausted.” So when they got a five-minute break during the evening activities, she figured she would slip away for a second to relax. “I went into the lodge and — you guessed it! — fell asleep. I was awoken by Tommy’s 6th-grade science teacher. He had to kind of rock me awake! THAT’S embarrassing.“

Then there’s the mortification that just naturally comes from raising small pooping humans. My neighbor Joanna’s favorite “What has my life become” moment? “Having to pull over on the side of I-95 and break out the porta-potty so my potty-training toddler could poop on the side of the road.” 

I definitely relate. I’ll never forget when my husband and I were stuck in jammed LA-area traffic with 3-month-old Henry shrieking his hungry head off in the backseat. I couldn’t safely pick him up out of the car seat, of course, so I took off my own seatbelt, popped out a boob, and leaned over the seat to upside-down breastfed him on the 405.

Actually I don’t know if that’s an embarrassing time or my most athletic moment ever. Probably the latter. Yay, me.

At the tippity top of my husband’s list of awkward parenting moments: The First Diaper Change On a Cross-Country Flight. We were new parents at the time but smart enough to pack multiple changes of clothes for our newborn. Check!

What we didn’t know is that you also need multiple changes of clothes for yourself as well. So when Dan unpopped the adhesive strips on Henry’s tiny diaper, turbulence hit and everything exploded. Poor Dan was wiping poop off his eyebrows as he skulked out, praying people would think it was his firstborn who smelled like s!&t and not him.

But really, you start to get used to bodily fluids when you have kids. My college friend Collette and her husband were out to eat with their 3-month-old son when he spit up something green. He wasn’t even eating solids yet so they knew it wasn’t food. What was it? “We looked around to see if anyone saw, quickly dabbed it up, and kept eating,” she says.

Then there are the near #momfails and #dadfails. My colleague Nicole still laugh/cries about the days when she was making various baby food purées and putting them in the freezer. “So one time I also froze cubes of coffee, thinking I would use them for iced coffee. You can see where this is going,” she laughs. “Thankfully I caught them before they made it to daycare — but it was a close call!”

Alas, some things we’d rather keep home do find their way into daycare. My high school friend — let’s call her Georgia — still dies inside about the time she sent her son to daycare with her thong underwear clinging to his Transformers blanket. Luckily, she says “the teacher spotted the underwear before the kids did and stuffed it in his bag.” 

Awkward. 😳 But hey, at least no kids were scarred in the process. Just one poor mom.