To say the morning was rough is an understatement. It was one of “those” mornings. You know, the morning where nobody wants to get up, everyone is missing a sock, shoe or backpack, and no matter how fast you go you find yourself at least 5 minutes behind schedule. As the morning progressed, I found myself more and more flustered and before I knew it I had grouched at both of my kids leaving all of us in tears. “Definitely not winning Mom of the Year,” I thought.
Does this sound familiar? I see it every day; parents continually beating themselves up because they didn’t do this or they should have done that. I’ve been there many times. Truthfully, more than I would like to admit. Nobody tells you the hardest realization as a parent is the day you understand no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want to be perfect, you are going to fail your child sometimes. The guilt that follows this realization can be paralyzing. I remember living in an idyllic pre-child world in which my children always ate organic foods, never misbehaved in public and I had the patience of a saint. Boy, was I living in a fantasy!
What if we have it all wrong? What if our parenting failures are actually our greatest teaching moments? What if as we beat ourselves up about every mishap or mistake we make, we are actually robbing our children of some strong life lessons? As biased as we are about our children, we all know they are not perfect. And I, for one, do not want my children to ever feel they have to be perfect. Yet they see me hold myself to an impossible standard. They see me become overwhelmed and frustrated when I make a mistake or life feels like it is too much. They see me mess up… a lot. Something has to change.
I can work harder. I can take steps to improve. Unfortunately, I will never be the perfect mom. But, I CAN teach my children how to use failure as a catapult for success. I can use every slip-up as a learning opportunity and show them how to pick up the pieces and continue. I can teach my children to have grit and confidence. I can make every mistake count and mean something. My children will see me take accountability. They will see me apologize and make amends. They will see me handle my errors in judgment with the practices I hope they will use when they find themselves in similar situations.
Life is messy and the greatest lessons I have learned are the result of many failures. I can’t be the perfect mom but I can model how to persevere in the face of failure. Besides loving one another, this may be the greatest lesson of all. If I can teach them this, I think I can embrace being a very imperfect mom.