We’ve all been there—frustrated kid, frustrated mom, house a wreck, patience out the door and (seemingly) never coming back. Parenting is not for the weak, and we all struggle some days. But for adoptive parents, it sometimes seems like we put more pressure on ourselves to be perfect—after all, we worked so hard to become parents, don’t we owe it to our kids to always be on our A Game? In a word, No.

One of the most important lessons we teach our kids actually happens when we are not being our best selves—the lesson that we are allowed to make mistakes, apologize, recover, and start again. When you lose your temper because your preschooler has ignored your requests for the fifteenth time in a row, take a minute, take a breath, then apologize and start again. Not only have you regained your calm, but you’ve showed her that people can make mistakes without it being a huge deal. When your “Angry Mom” voice comes out despite your best efforts to keep things light and breezy, take a minute, take a breath, then apologize and start again. Use this momentary setback to show your son that we can control our emotions if we pause and reset. When your kids are ganging up on you and it feels like a pack of rabid coyotes has attacked your home and you are about to stomp on the ground and throw things, take a moment, take a breath, apologize, and start again. Show them that you are an actual person with actual feelings, and teach them that you deserve to be treated like more than a maid/cook/coyote wrangler. Use your words to show them that what they do (or don’t do) affects how much time you can spend with  them instead of cleaning up after them.

But what about when the whole day is bad? I’ve been there—every hill seems like a mountain, and you have done more apologizing and breathing than you can count. Don’t beat yourself up—just keep going. Your kids are resilient and love you. They understand more than you know, and they are ready to forgive just about anything. But take time to talk to them about your impatience, your bad day. Tell them that Mommy has bad days, we all have bad days, but that doesn’t make them (or you!) bad people. Show them that you are a family team, and that together you can ride out even the longest, most painful “Bad Mommy” days. Then, when they are asleep, eat all the ice cream.