When you feel like a failure – the truth about failing as a mother
Behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing it all up.
We all feel like a failure from time to time. The thing is: we are not. We just need a little encouragement and affirmation. Raising children is the hardest job of all with the greatest responsibility we’ll ever have. It’s normal to struggle every now and then.
You are all they need
There is no mother on earth who didn’t think at least once in her lifetime that she is messing it all up. If you are just a bit like me, you have already asked – at least once: what was God thinking when He gave me all these children? You know what? You are His creation and trustworthy enough to raise another creation of His.
God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves. So do our children. On my worst days – and I mean, when I really mess up things – at least one of my little ones hugs me and tells me: “you are the best mommy in the world”. I know I am not, yet this little affirmation reassures me that I am all they need, and their reminder is all that I need.
Perfect mom vs. happy mom
Your children don’t want a perfect mom, they want a happy mom.–Unknown
Last year my 11-year-old made me a gift for my birthday. It was a simple drawing of a smiley saying: “Smile!” On top of the page, she wrote: “Your daily task:” She made me put it on the wall above my desk to see it every day – and do it. I wish, I could tell that the reminder works and I smile every day, but that’s not the case. Even when I smile they don’t always see it. They see much more of my grumpy face, hear much more of my grumblings over small annoyances than see my smile or hear my praise and thankful words. Sometimes they hardly feel my love and see my happiness because of them. I could tell a million reasons why I forget to let them know that I am the happiest person in the world for having them and for living a dream life, but at the end of the day those reasons won’t matter, will not be anywhere near – yet my children just won’t remember me as their happy mom. This makes me feel like a failure.
Because the only thing my children want to see is me being happy. Moreover, they want to help me be happy! In their own sweet and incomparable ways, they do everything in their power to make me feel and look happy. I should appreciate that much more because when they don’t see they succeed at this, THEY feel like a failure. And the roundabout is on. Everyone FEELS like a failure though nobody is. We all are just trying our bests with various results.
Keep in mind: we are ALL under construction. We all form each other and want the best results. We are to help each other to be happy and forget about failures.
My definition of happiness here is this: being content and grateful, actively enjoying life.
I feel like a failure in these areas – but am I really?
The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you are one. ~ Jodi Picoult
There are a few things I keep failing at. By failing I mean that I keep struggling and losing battle more than I would like. Does any of these sound familiar to you?
I have so little self-discipline that being consistent is pretty hard for me. This makes me fight for order and balance all the time. We’ve had really great times and really hard times, depending on what seasons of life we were in and how I handled those seasons. But it all comes back to consistency and self-discipline, or the lack of them. I work on self-discipline because I want to grow in consistency and keep the balance and order of our life instead of fighting for it all the time. The most important thing I’ve learned as a parent from this constant struggle is, that if my children grow up without instilling these character traits into them, they will have a very difficult adulthood. So one of my main goals is to raise them with more discipline and consistency than I have, to make their lives easier. Little hope for success, as I am a role model in this. Yet, the thing is: even with these struggles I am happy, they are happy, so this struggling doesn’t mean we’ve failed. I need to remind myself that.
Having high expectations
Because I struggle with consistency, I’m really bad at following up with my own expectations. It looks something like this: I have taught them obedience, values, rules, how to do jobs, etc. but too many times they do not act accordingly if I loosen up and don’t check on them constantly. There are times when I think everything goes smoothly, and then realize they got sidetracked and act like they know nothing. This also might happen because I’m so bad with rewards. I expect the best in them, but don’t reward enough. This doesn’t help them live up to expectations of any kind but doesn’t kill them either. It’s awful when they think and say that they are not enough whatever they do, but they’re seeing things in a different light, so that doesn’t make us a failure. They will come around and see things as they are sooner or later.
Being a role model
By now you can tell: I’m not a really good role model. I can’t even set the right example. I say things I shouldn’t, I fail at handling my frustration – a thing they truly learn by example not by preaching. So as my kids get older and start to show their real personality – born and learned traits as well – I am to face all my earlier failures. Kids don’t show what they learn by example on the first day. It may take even years. Maybe now it seems they didn’t pick up what we wished they wouldn’t, but over the teen years, they will surely reflect these – magnified. A dreadful mirror to watch into. Yet, this doesn’t ruin them for life, so this won’t make me a failure either.
Showing them my love
It’s crucial for children to see and feel our unconditional love. Since I am a parent I had two seasons in my life when I was so broken that I needed a total restart. First, after our fourth child was born, 11 years ago. I realized that my parenting concepts just didn’t work and have to build a new base with the right views and principles. The second one was about a year ago when all sorts of things – 5 major transitions, the loss of my mother, breaking up with family – happened in our life at the same time that I just couldn’t keep up with. In this case, I did fail. In each possible way. Self-pity won over showing love to those most important in my life. I wasted months and months lost in myself, lying on the ground, trying to comprehend Life as it was. I let myself down, so I failed as a mother too. I couldn’t show acceptance, didn’t give the time and attendance, wasn’t listening as should have been, got angry more than should, couldn’t show them that I like them being around, etc. In short: I was disconnecting. Unconsciously but still disconnecting. Eventually, God showed me how off I got before it would have been too late. Ever since we are recovering, and though such seasons are extra difficult, we experience grace and see that there is still no fatal damage in our children. They are still carried in the hand of God. And I finally overcame a failure.
Being their “best friend”
This difficult time of disconnecting and then my research on how to return to my children, especially my teens, revealed an issue that bugged me a bit. I read blog posts about and from non-rebellious, happy and balanced teens whose best friend is their mom and dad. These made me think about what I was doing wrong that my teens are not like that. I long for this kind of relationship with them, for peaceful and balanced teen years for them. But the fact, that we have something else, means I do something wrong? I have realized that that’s not the case. My mistakes, ups and highs did result in not so smooth relationships as balanced parents have with their kids, but I did not fail – yet.
Our teens are really close to me. They don’t tell me “everything” and none of us nurture a “feeling” of friendship, but I’m told all their important things, they ask for my perspective on things and do listen to me when it comes to guidance. We actively talk. A lot. Basically, they’re still learning life from us, not their peers. For me, it is enough to consider our relationships to be sound and healthy and to have peace about the direction of their improvement. I still have to remind them time to time that I’m their mother and not their peer when it comes to communicating style, so I guess in a way they also hold me as a friend, – even if they would never acknowledge this. So not being their “best friend” with a non-rebellious relationship definitely does not make me a failure. I’m confident of that. I’m proud to be their parent and not their friend.
All these things will make you sure, I am not a perfect mother. I really doubt I’m worthy to be a mom at all. From my perspective, I’m definitely not, but apparently God is still able to use me – it’s high time I start to accept this and rise up to this special call. So I must stop seeing myself a failure. I have to recognize all my mistakes and learn from them, then move on and do what I’m called to do. If I keep rumbling about being a failure THAT will make me a failure.
I want to emphasize again and again, that we are so unique and there is not an only salvatory way to live our lives, raise our kids, plan our days, do our mundane – we all need to find our own ways.Failure is only on its way when you want to walk on someone else’s way, use someone else’s methods – be someone else. Do not be a failure! Find your way of parenting, your kids’ needs and desires, and you’ll be the mom you ever wanted to be – your kids will be happy that they got the mom they’ll ever need!
Encouragement cards for you
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I'm a wife to a wonderful man and mother of 10 amazing kids. I'm constantly working on being the mom I've always wanted to be and to make our house to be our dream-home finally. My goal is to help and encourage you to be the best mom you can be.