I always struggle when my time comes to writing a blog post. I feel out of things to talk about and embarrassed that advice I give might seem silly or fake because on most days I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. Then I realized I could write about what I really know about: mom fails.
Most of the time my mom fails are small, but sometimes they are big.
Don’t get me wrong; I have weeks in which I feel like I’m knocking it out of the park. I remember the permission slips, the kids get baths on a regular schedule, everyone is fed, the girls go to school with their hair brushed and matching bows in their hair, and we have time for happy moments together. It feels though that for each of those good moments, I have a run of mom fails. I’m sure we’ve all had days of frustration, tiredness and disconnected. Weeks in which whatever else is on your mind — work, a friend or family member’s personal struggles, or something silly like changing out the kids’ winter and summer clothes — is consuming too much of your thoughts and time, and you aren’t the best parent you could be. The big fails are almost easier to take; everyone makes mistakes and they are usually ones that become funny family stories years later.
It’s the little fails that weigh on me for weeks and months however, reminding me of my inadequacies as a parent.
Last week, I forgot to send my middle daughter with zucchini for her vegetable soup project at school. I sat at work kicking myself all day about it, picturing her being the one whose mom forgot. Then I forgot the permission slip for the petting zoo visiting the school. These aren’t huge things, but while at work, I can’t run over and take her the things I forgot. These fails make me feel like I’m not as great of a mom as I could be if I didn’t work, or didn’t have a million things on my mind, or was better at putting everything in my calendar. When my daughter came home and I said, “Caroline, I’m so sorry I forgot the zucchini,” she replied, “It’s ok mom. It tasted so yummy anyway.” We moved along, but I don’t forget it.
If only I could forget the mom fails as easily as I forgot the zucchini.
When it was colder, we were rushing to get to school and I was doing my usual, “Put on your shoes, put on your shoes, put on your shoes, come on, come on, come on, hurry, we’re late, COME ONNNNNNN!!” Instead of moving towards the car in a rush, my five-year-old daughter stopped in her tracks. As I snapped at her to hurry up, I saw she was staring at the air with wonder in her eyes. I quickly said, “We are late! COME ON!” and she smiled with big eyes and said, “Oh my gosh, but look mom! Look at that! I can see my breath!” She was amazed at nature’s magic show — her breath floating through the air — and I was too rushed to appreciate how amazing that moment was for her. These times are the knife in my heart and I think about them months later.
Why am I missing the “stop and smell the roses moments” trying to get in the car?
On my son’s kindergarten registration day, he was grumpy and I had to drag him out of bed. After telling him about fifteen times to put on his shoes while trying to get my other two kids dressed, I finally snapped and said, “Gahhh, what is your deal Cooper?? GET YOUR SHOES ON AND COME ONNNNNNNNNN!” His eyes welled up with tears, but I was frustrated and continued to rush so we wouldn’t be late, throwing his shoes on and pushing everyone to the car. Cooper was quiet and grumpy all morning, and it took me until after lunch to realize he was nervous. How he was acting was directly related to him being scared and nervous about school starting, and he was showing it in a way I wasn’t understanding. When we finished registration it hit me; I leaned down with tears in my eyes and told him how sorry I was for being impatient, for yelling to hurry and for being all around awful, to which he replied, “I know, mama. I was just nervous, but I’m so glad I got the teacher I wanted and everything was so good.”
In my lowest mom moments, forgiveness and understanding come so easily from my kids.
My list of little mom fails goes on and on. I hope I’m not the only one who falls a little bit short (or a lot) on a daily basis. It’s important to stop for a bit and remind ourselves that we are human. Many times we are disappointed by our own expectations, not by what our kids expect from us. With all the “perfection” we see every day on social media, it is easy to feel like everyone else has it all figured out. I start to feel like other moms don’t forget things, don’t get impatient or lose their tempers, and don’t feel rushed every single morning like I do. I am so thankful for my close mom friends who will share their own mom fails and speak truthfully with me, because it feels better to know that we all feel this way. If you start to feel like you aren’t “measuring up,” remember there is someone else having more than a few mom fails that exact moment. I hope by reading my stories, you are as forgiving of yourself as your kids are of you. Sometimes we just mess up or don’t have enough energy to make things perfect, and we just do sort of ok.
This parenting thing is hard.
The kids need you every second they are with you. You are supposed to be teaching them, loving them, wiping their bottoms, picking out their clothes, and keeping them clean, fed, entertained and safe. You have to do all this while getting yourself dressed and doing whatever is required for the day, while remaining patient and loving. You have to parent in a way that provides them the attention they need, but not too much that you spoil them. You have to teach them, but not too much lest someone think you coddle them. You have to remember their things for school, but not do everything for them or they won’t learn personal responsibility. You have to come up with ways to keep them entertained and show them new things, but not entertain them so much that they expect their day planned with something to keep their attention every minute. You have so many things you feel like you “have” to do when really being their mom is enough.
Your kids see you and they don’t think of any of your shortcomings. They don’t see you and think you must have missed a chapter or two in the parenting books. They see the person who feeds them every day, the person they run to the minute they are hurt, who can fix every problem, who they love to the moon and back, the person who knows the answer to all their questions and who can do no wrong in their eyes. I can get dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and not brush my hair, and my daughter will look at me and say, “Oh mama you look bootiful!” They lay in bed when I tuck them in and say, “You’re the best mama in the whole world” on the very day I feel like I have failed them.