Blurred Lines: Parenting Failure and Success


Blurred Lines: Parenting Failure and Success

No one sets out to be a bad parent. There is no one on the planet that found out they were going to have a child and thought to themselves, “I am going to try to be the worst parent ever!” We all want to be good parents, and we are all our worst critics. When we slip up, make a mistake, or lose our patience, we are quick to label ourselves as a failure. But the truth is, we can’t be perfect, but we are probably as close as it gets on most days — at least in the parenting department.

And I am fairly certain we are perfect for our kiddos; exactly the mama they need.

On a daily basis I see women being fabulous mamas. Mamas trying so hard to do their very best and be their very best for their children. I see this in my neighbors, my friends, my family, my fellow contributors, and in the women with whom I work. As a nutrition educator for WIC, one of my favorite things to do is compliment women on being great moms. The way they light up when they hear the complement is beautiful. I have even had some women cry at the compliment saying, “No one has every said that to me before!” Let’s be honest; we all know how good it feels to get a compliment, and how much harder it makes us work to live up to that statement.

What if we started telling ourselves how great we are at parenting, instead of concentrating on our failures? Wouldn’t we also try to live up to the compliments? Our kids already know how great we are — it’s time we start believing it too.

We all have bad moments and bad days. If you took all of my bad mama moments and stacked them up, you might say I am a terrible mama. But you would be wrong, and so am I when I get down on myself for losing my patience with my kiddos. We all do it. We all have that place in parenting where we fail the most. Mine is snapping at my kids. Maybe you struggle with this too. I hear “Mama” for the thirtieth time 10 minutes and it doesn’t really matter why they are calling for me, I just need them to stop saying my name. Never mind there was a time all I wanted in the world was to have a baby. Never mind there was a time I wasn’t certain I would ever be able to have another child. This very second I am trying to have a coherent thought and I can’t do that because the kids are screaming “Mama” at me.

I am what you would call an introvert. I thrive on alone time, and I especially need to be alone with my thoughts. I need to process things in my head, and I need quiet to do that. But it’s very rare that I get that quiet time, and some days, when I have something worrying me or something tricky I am trying to work out, I have to have that quiet time. But my kids still need me, and sometimes I think they need me more when they see that I need time to myself. I usually ask them to give me some uninterrupted time, but they sometimes forget or just can’t wait. This typically ends with me snapping at them and saying something along the lines of “I am changing my name” or “No one can say ‘Mama’ for 15 minutes.” Not my best effort, and this ends with me feeling guilty as I lay my head down that night and promising myself to do better the next day.

What we really need is more grace. More grace for everyone — our kids, our husbands, our friends, and OURSELVES.

Here’s the thing: if the line between failure and success is so easy to cross, then the line the other way is equally as blurred. It is just a matter of perspective. We need to see ourselves for the hard-working, selfless mamas we are, even when we have a bad day. Stop thinking all is lost, that one slip-up negates all the good we have done and will continue to do in the lives of our kiddos. Give yourself a break; you are doing a great job!


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