For me, and probably most others, it often takes a trial or mishap of some sort to learn or be reminded of a valuable lesson. In the case of this past weekend, it took a monumental screw up on my part.

A “vehicle backed into the airboat” kind of screw up.

You might be wondering, “How do you not see a boat behind you?”

That’s a good question, and the answer is pretty simple — I didn’t look.

I can tell you a story chock-full of excuses:

I was heading into town by myself to pick up a pizza for supper. Since I didn’t have kids to buckle into car seats, I walked straight to my door and got in. I backed up the same way I always do every single time I leave our house, completely forgetting the boat was parked in an area that is usually void of objects. It’s not my fault my husband decided to leave it in an unusual spot. If he would have just picked up the pizza like usual, the whole thing never would have happened at all.

But the truth of the matter is it’s not my husband’s fault — I simply wasn’t paying attention.

Any other day, I would say I’m a very good driver. I’m cautious, yet assertive. I’m considerate of others, and I stay aware of my surroundings. But not this weekend. Oh no, not this weekend. I hopped in my vehicle, put in reverse, stepped down on the pedal, and just swung that baby right out into the back end of our airboat. The results were not pretty for both the vehicle and the boat, and while my husband eventually forgave me for backing into his pride and joy, I still feel ridiculously upset about the whole incident.

However, as they say, the damage is done and there’s no going back. I refuse to let it end there, though. There may not be anything necessarily good to come out of this incident (especially the repair bill…), but it did remind me of a valuable lesson — when you get set in your ways and stop paying attention, the stumbling blocks that inevitably pop up will take you by surprise.

In my case, it was a boat that took me by surprise. But this lesson can apply to so many things. In fact, I should have learned it better back in college, when I had the habit of procrastinating. Almost every paper I wrote — and there were a lot, as I was an English major — was finished in the early morning hours the day it was due. I got set in my ways because it almost always ended up working out well for me, but when my computer would crash or I’d be missing a source, I was in trouble.

Just as I’ve had to learn and relearn this lesson and so many others throughout my life, my kids will have to as well. And as much as I want to learn these lessons the hard way so they don’t have to, that won’t always be the case. I can teach them and hope it sticks, but at some point in their lives, my boys will stumble and fall. No matter what, though, I will always be there for them because despite my seemingly responsible adult demeanor, I still screw up too. As long as they can take their mistakes and grow from them, I will feel like I did something right.

And hey, if I can at least help prevent them from backing a vehicle into a boat, I will consider that an extra win!

Heather Shotkoski My name is Heather, and I am lucky to be surrounded by handsome men! I have been married to my high school sweetheart for over ten years, and together we have three lovably wild little boys. I grew up in a tiny town near the middle of Nebraska, and after living in the "big city" of Kearney for six years, my husband and I found our way back to the small town life. I am a stay-at-home mom, and each day is definitely a new adventure with three rapidly growing boys. I absolutely love it!