The Failing Parent – How I Finally Gave Myself the Break I Deserved

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failing parentI’ve always been hard on myself. In school, my grades were never good enough. As a teenager, I was never thin enough. And now, as an adult, I’m never “mom” enough. Every night I go to bed and make a running list of the things I didn’t accomplish; dishes in the sink, playroom’s a mess, laundry piled to the ceiling. I promise myself tomorrow will be more productive, and I’m going to be that mom that I always dreamed of being. But by lunchtime, I notice my shirt is on backward, my daughter’s lunchbox was left on the kitchen counter, and I scarf down a burger because my diet has been long forgotten.

I’m stressed out with all the things it seems like I’ll never get to. Tomorrow will be different, I think to myself, and so the cycle continues day after day. This is why I consider myself the failing parent.

Being a parent is brutal in the respect that you always feel like you could be doing better. I am humbled on a day-to-day basis and reminded of all the things I’m not great at. A trip to the park can turn into a reminder of how forgetful I have been since I left the kids’ water bottles home on the hottest day of the year. A trip to the grocery store can be torturous as I see all the other well-behaved children sitting patiently in the carts while my child starts World War III over fruit snacks. Volunteering for my child’s class party can be eye-opening to the fact that she is the only one who has a snack with corn syrup in it. (I must remember to pick up an organic pack at Costco next time I’m there!).

At any given moment, I’m failing to remember everything on my to-do list, complete everyday tasks for the house, and “properly” nourish my children with the organic lifestyle they deserve. 

And let’s not even start with all the questions I ask myself! Can I do anything right? Did I read long enough to my youngest? Did I remember to sign that permission slip for school? Do we have enough milk for tomorrow’s bottles? Did they eat enough protein for dinner? How can I get them to eat more vegetables?

Social media has added to the woes of being a mom.

There’s nothing like scrolling through the ‘gram to help remind you of how much other people have their lives together. Even on days I think I’ve conquered this mom thing; I’m reminded of all the Pinterest savvy, seemingly perfect moms who appear to be killing the game.

Eventually, it got to a point where every waking hour of my day was focused on being the “best” mom and wife possible. If I had even five free minutes, I would do something I deemed important. One kid down for a nap? The perfect time to vacuum all those crumbs from lunch. Both kids just left for school? Time to make all the beds! Ten free minutes to myself? Maybe I’ll check my emails while using the bathroom (come on, you all know you’ve been there).

I was driving myself insane in my quest to be the “perfect” mom. I was losing myself as a person to become the mom I had always thought I would be.

I was putting everyone and everything before myself. While yes, being a mom is about sacrifices, I had given up on myself and lost the fun-loving, carefree, reality TV-obsessed person I had always been. 

Instead, I was becoming a resentful, neurotic helicopter parent who seemed to be failing at everything I tried. I knew it was time for a break, and I don’t mean a two-week trip alone to Italy with wine on tap (a mom can dream, right?). I realized that to be the best mom I could be. I had to make small changes and do things for me. 

Getting back to the things that made me happy didn’t make me a failing parent. In fact, it started to make me a better mom.

I’d feel re-energized after taking an hour to work out. I would feel almost “ready” to come home and make dinner after a stroll around Target alone. I was excited to see my kids when I came home from a day of shopping or spending much-needed time with friends.

I wasn’t failing; I was just doing the best I could. 

Now while I may come home to a messy house or a playroom that’s less than perfect, my kids are happy, and I am too. Doing things that bring me joy sometimes means that beds won’t be made or the perfect dinner won’t be served. But my house will be filled with love and laughter, and that means more to me than any crumb-free floor or dish-free sink.

So the next time you make a “mommy mistake,” remember you are not failing. Give yourself the break you deserve!

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