Monday, January 13, 2014

Allowing Ourselves Permission To Fail As Mothers.

We all have fears. 

Little fears like spiders, the dark, baby dolls coming to life and smothering us in our sleep (no, just me?) as well as big fears. Big, numbing fears like heights, crossing bridges, small confined spaces and public speaking. 

It's natural to have fears, this I know, and it does no good to dwell on one's fears, this I also know, but there's one fear I have, one big, giant, scary kind of fear that always sits tucked in the back of my mind, tugging at my heart at the end of every day. 

It's the fear of failing my children. Next to my fear of losing them or leaving them motherless should anything happen to me, it's the greatest fear I harbor as a mother. 

As their mother, the only one they'll ever have, God-willing, I am in constant evaluation of myself and can't help but wonder, 

"Am I failing them?"

Now, don't be mistaken, I am not paralyzed so much by this fear that I can't function or parent properly and for that I am grateful. It doesn't consume my every thought, but at the end of every day, in the quiet moments before I give in to sleep, I can't help but ask myself, "was I a good mother today?"  

Most days the answer is yes, despite whatever small fires may have arisen, but some days, some times, the answer is a staggering "no" and that's when it stings a little. That's when I worry and I can't help but think I'm failing as a mother. 

I fear that I'm not doing enough. That I'm not teaching them enough, encouraging them enough, cultivating and engaging their tiny minds enough. Some days, at the end of the day, I fear that I didn't say "I love you" enough. 

I fear that I didn't read to them enough, say "yes" instead of "no" enough. That I didn't hug them enough or look them in the eye enough and give them my full undivided attention.

Although I try not to play the comparison game, I look at mothers around me who appear to have it all together, who appear to mother and wife and keep house so seamlessly and without effort and I am in awe. I wonder if they have the same fears as I do. The same fear of making a mistake, one single mistake that is so gigantic and life-altering that it totally sets their children up for failure as adults. That it messes them up so royally that instead of saving for their college fund, we should be saving for their therapy bills.

Oh my god, what if they don't even get into college because we didn't do enough flash cards? See? That's what I mean.
As mothers, I would like to think it's universal to fear that we may be failing our children. After all, motherhood is the hardest, most selfless job in the world and I'd like to think that this fear of failing means that we really do care. That, after all, we really are invested in the success of our children so much that we really can't help but fear failing them. Maybe sometimes too invested, like do-their-preschool-homework-for-them-invested (not like I would know anything about that, ahem), but invested nonetheless.   

It's evident that with each fear that I have, take for instance, when pregnant with our second child, the fear that I wouldn't be able to love said second child as much as I did my first, that I really have no reason to be fearful at all. 

A normal fear, yes, but a fear so completely unfounded that I can laugh at myself now for ever fearing that. For ever thinking that I couldn't love another child as much as I loved my first. 

Looking back, it was more the fear of the unknown, of how we would all adjust and transition to being a family of four that haunted me, more so than whether or not I would be able to love another baby and as we prepare to welcome our third son in just a few short months, I know with every fiber of my being that I can and will love him just as much as I my other two sons. 

We both know what they say about hindsight.

In giving ourselves permission to fail, to not always be the perfect mother, I believe that maybe we're actually giving ourselves a certain freedom. A freedom to make mistakes, to not always do and say our best because we know it's not always that easy. A freedom to falter but most importantly, to allow ourselves to learn from those mistakes and missteps and to try again the next day, to be better, to be more patient, more engaging, to sit back, slow down and allow ourselves more grace.

 If we look at mothering that way, it doesn't seem so scary after all. 

After all, isn't it up to us to lead by example and teach our children not to be afraid of failure? That if they tried their very best, that's all we could have ever hoped for? 

Maybe we as Moms just need to step back and take our own advice. In giving ourselves permission to fail, aren't we really succeeding after all?  



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  1. Loved this post. What's funny is, I view YOU as the mom and wife that has it all together. You are my pedestal mom. I hear your voice in the IG videos and I'm like, "oh wow, she sounds so upbeat and not the least bit burned out or annoyed" and I'm jealous of that.
    Like you said, it's just normal for us to feel this way, we all feel like we failed. I'm certianly feeling this way now that I'm single parenting, I fail every single day and I know I do. All I can do is pray that whatever I screw up now, can be fixed later on when I'm finally used to this new life. But for now, we are still having cereal for dinner way too often and sharing the king sized bed.
    You're a rockstar, AP! Rock-freakin-star.

  2. It's scary and we all feel the same way. Something slips through the cracks on a daily basis, and I beat myself up good for that yesterday. But as long as they're loved and we just push through, we're doing a pretty awesome job, if I do say so myself ;)

  3. I think this is a universal feeling I always wonder where it comes from though, I mean what mother really is perfect & if your perfect in that department what other part of your life is coming undone? Or is your whole life perfect. I'm at war with my mind every night wondering if is did enough with Kayden or if he really learned anything new. I think we tear ourselves up sometimes when they judge us the best.

  4. I definitely thing we all have a little self-doubt when it comes to being a mother, and I hope and pray that the fact that I am so concerned about it proves that I'm at least concerned, so that means I'm doing something right, right?

    That being said, my biggest concern: I often wonder if Andrew feels truly loved by us. I wonder if in his subconscious he really hears me saying "I'll love you forever" when he's fast asleep. I wonder if when he feels my tight hug, he truly knows how much I love him.

  5. I pick a few blog posts to actually read, and I'm glad I took the time to read only this one tonight.
    If you are trying your best, failure isn't even an option.

  6. Here's my take. Cuz I know you're oh so curious :)

    If we do everything...everything right...all those activities. And all the cleanness. And all the home cooked meals. And smiley faces in sandwiches. Are we teaching our kids that that's reality? that that's the expectations? Are they going to grow up and think that's what they're supposed to do? That the world is all about them?

    TO a point OF COURSE! You try your best at what you can do best. But I honestly think that doing it all also might skew their view of reality.

    I know. I'm nuts. Maybe it's the Russian in me.

  7. I'm pretty sure if one day I do become a mom, I will fail terribly. Like forget to feed my kids, hang dangerous falling object over their crib, teach them to drive wrong, everything.


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