I feel like I fail as a mom on a daily basis. Even when I tell myself “today will be different, today will be a good day,” I fail. I never envisioned myself being a stay-at-home-mom, which has now changed to a work-at-home-mom. I obviously had no experience taking care of children 24/7 and had no idea what I was supposed to do. Was I supposed to have a structured day? Should I have them sit down at certain times and learn things? Should I turn the TV off? Should I enforce naps? Should I give them snacks and lunch at a designated time? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? I didn’t have a clue. I would turn to the internet or mommy groups on Facebook for advice but then just feel bad about myself. I didn’t do Pinterest crafts with my kids all day. Was I failing?
It took me a few years to realize that I’m not failing at that. There’s no “right” way to be at home with your kids all day. Just because Betty Sue runs a homeschool for her two year old, doesn’t mean I have to. Just because Susie Ann enforces a no TV rule, doesn’t mean I need to. Have I made the right decisions? Have they? I think we all have. Because we made the decisions based on our kids, our needs, and our situations. My kids don’t nap and I have deadlines to meet sometimes. Do I turn on a movie and tell them to sit there? Yes. Or I give them an iPad and turn on YouTube kids. Because that’s just the way it has to be sometimes. I have no choice right now but to work from home, which is fine because I love what I do. But with kids that don’t nap and who want me to constantly play with them, there has to be time for me to get things done. And that’s how I make that happen.
Have I failed because of that? No. Because you know what I’m doing the rest of the day? I’m taking them to and from school, classes, and play dates. I’m playing “airport” and “Starbucks”. I’m building car garages and painting their little Mistletoes. So an hour with the iPad? Not a failure as far as I’m concerned. Some may disagree and that’s fine; we can have different opinions on how to parent. No one knows your situation, or my situation, and as long as the child isn’t in danger, who are we to judge how they choose to do things?
Do you fail as a mom because you didn’t breastfeed? Or you let your kids cry it out? Or co-sleep? Or put them in full-time daycare? No. You did what you had to do. And I have no doubt in mind that every decision you have ever made is because you believe that’s what is best for them. Or maybe there is no other option. It doesn’t matter. But you don’t fail because it’s different than what your neighbor does or what your Facebook friends say you need to do.
So how do I fail everyday as a mom? I beat myself up. I feel like the worst mom in the world when my kids throw a fit in Target or when I have to send my kid to time-out for the 80th time that day. I feel awful when I say they can’t have dessert because they didn’t listen or have to make a deadline when all they want to do is play. I hate myself for yelling and losing my temper so easily. But that’s all part of being a parent. There’s no manual and you’re learning as you go. Somedays you simply can’t take one more act of disobedience or one more tantrum. It’s okay to get frustrated and it’s okay to sit on the floor in the kitchen and cry (been there, done that). Because as I’ve said before, they wake up the next morning and can’t wait to see you. They’re more concerned with the bug crawling on the window than what happened yesterday. They don’t need anything but love. And as long as you give them that, they’re happy. It’s okay to take an hour to do what you need to do or ask for a break when your spouse gets home. You don’t have to be the perfect parent 24/7. Because let’s face it, no one is perfect.
I’ll be honest, my biggest challenge is patience. I’m always telling my kids to hurry up or flipping my lid when they don’t listen after I tell them to do something 12 times. I mean, I know I can’t be alone on this. But does that mean I fail? Maybe. But I acknowledge it and work at doing it differently next time. I’ve learned that I don’t fail because of something I did to my kids, but because of how I treat myself. I judge myself more than I think people judge me. I feel like the worst mom in the world some days and feel like I’ve failed. But the only reason I’ve failed is because I’m making myself think that.
So how do you not fail as a parent?
1) Cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can. You have their best interest at heart and sometimes things are easy and sometimes they’re hard. Just remember you’re learning how to be a parent just like they’re learning how to walk, talk, and be their own person. You’re both learning how to live this new life.
2) Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what you think is best. You can read parenting books and look at mommy forums, but in the end just follow your heart. You know in your gut what to do.
3) Give yourself some credit. If you get all of the kids out of the house on time for school, pat yourself on the back. If you get them to eat their veggies without bribing them, celebrate! Each small victory should be proof that you’re doing something right. Roll with that.
4) Love them. Love them fiercely. Even when they’ve terrorized the house all day and made you cry three times, love them. Heck love them harder. Remind yourself why you love them and why you love being a mom in the first place. You give them love, you give them the world.
You can’t fail at parenting by what you do or what you’ve done, but rather how you see yourself as a parent. I joke all the time that I failed at sleep training and I’ve failed at getting them to eat the right way. Because at the time, I thought I had failed. But kids are different, circumstances change, and you tried your best and did what you had to do at the time. And that’s not failing. Not in the least bit.