It started as a day full of optimism and excitement ... the day my newly-minted preschooler got to bring the snack to school. If you don’t have kids or it’s been awhile since the little kid years, let me tell you, it’s a big deal.
I had shown him his name on the calendar as the assigned snack provider. We had taken our time scanning the aisles at the store until his eyes landed on the perfect treat (Paw Patrol graham crackers, in case you were wondering). We had counted out the correct number of packages and put them next to his backpack so they were all ready to go the next day. Sounds like I nailed it, right? Wrong ... oh, so wrong. We proudly marched into school, my son practically running to his classroom, to announce the arrival of the day’s snack. My son happily wandered into his classroom and I turned to leave when I was quietly informed that ... I had forgotten to bring juice.
My heart sunk. Had I been frazzled and forgotten the juice at home?
No. It had never even crossed my mind. And that was probably because we rarely have juice boxes in the house and we usually do water with snacks. It was also probably because all the preschool stuff was still new to both my son and myself. But the only thing that was running through my head at that moment was ... I failed. To make matters worse, I didn’t have time to run to the store that day to remedy my mistake.
That’s it, I thought, I’m that mom. The mom who doesn’t have it together. The mom who can’t get it right. The mom all the other moms will shake their heads at. The mom who will have to apologize again and again to her children for yet another mom fail.
I let myself sulk for a bit on the drive home and maybe even a little more as I put my daughter down for her nap. And then I started to come to my senses. After all, let’s be real, this was by no means my first “mom fail.” I realized that it hit me harder because my son is starting to get old enough to be disappointed in me. And honestly, I was disappointed in myself.
I was sick and tired of trying my hardest only to end up feeling like a failure. It was then that I realized my true problem, it wasn’t the “mom fail” of snack day, it was my attitude toward the whole idea of failure as a parent. As much as we try, “mom fails” and “dad fails” are bound to happen. We can let those moments eat at us, or we can field the fails by remembering three things:
Pray for perspective, not perfection
Newsflash: You’re not perfect. You’re an imperfect parent, spouse, friend, daughter, employee, etc. Is this groundbreaking for any of us? No. But Satan (and Instagram) shows us all the “perfect” moms and dads out there and how we don’t measure up. We look at others, especially as parents, and we can’t help but compare ourselves to them. Next time you start ... shut it down!
Pray for perspective NOT perfection. If you’re hoping and praying that one day you’ll have it all together, you’ll be waiting in vain. No one is perfect. And here’s the thing, neither your children or your God expect you to be. It’s okay to let your kids see you mess up from time to time. It teaches them that you’re human too, that sometimes you have to admit your faults just as they are expected to do. God is also well aware of our shortcomings, every single one of us. At the end of time, God will not make me answer for the juice boxes that I forgot to bring on snack day. He won’t make me answer for the multitude of “mom fails” in my future either. He’ll judge my heart, and you know what he’ll see? Jesus’ perfection, not mine.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
Don’t let one failure make you think that you are a failure
I think we can all agree that my “mom fail” was a minor one. No one got hurt. Most likely, no one will remember the time I was “that mom.” But what about the “mom fails” that do leave a scar, physical or emotional? Your children at one point or another will injury themselves on your watch. Something hurtful will come out of your mouth and you’ll want to take it back the very instant it leaves your lips. Well, here’s the thing about scars, they heal and most of them fade until you hardly notice them anymore. The physical and emotional scars we give and receive teach us and help make us who we are.
As parents, the best thing we can do is treat the wound as fast as we can and try our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And when the wounds are too much for us to handle, we get help. If your child breaks their arm, you know that you have to take them to the emergency room to be treated. It doesn’t mean that you failed to care for your child, it shows that you know when to seek help. The same goes for an emotional or spiritual wound, even if you’re the one who caused it. Guiding and encouraging your children to find peace and healing in God’s word is far from failure. It’s exactly the remedy they need, that we all need, when failure threatens to overcome us.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Forgive yourself and move on
No matter how egregious the mom fail, you are always granted forgiveness. Instead of withholding it from yourself and dwelling in your failure, ask God’s forgiveness, ask yourself for forgiveness, and move on!
I couldn’t change the fact that I had failed my snack day duties, but I could’ve changed the way it affected the rest of my morning. Instead of giving it up to God in prayer, I rehashed it on the phone with my husband. And then again with my sister. Now there’s nothing wrong with venting to the people you love about your problems, it can be extremely helpful. But I knew I was being ridiculous by diving off the deep end over juice boxes and I didn’t want anyone to pull me back.
It’s hard being a mom, but instead of focusing on all the things you’re doing wrong, forgive yourself for your failures and thank God for all the things you get right. Thank him for giving you the strength, patience and endless love that you need to be a parent to his precious children.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
So the next time you’re hit with a mom fail, big or small, stop yourself from plunging head first into guilt and shame, and go an alternative route.
Being a mom is hard.
If you’re anything like me, your biggest critic is yourself and the standards you hold for yourself are ridiculously high. Let go of the mom you think you should be and be the mom that you are. And most importantly remember, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.