“Mom fail” is a phrase I identify with all too well. The word FAIL, as defined, is both a transitive verb and a noun. (Just in case you needed a refresher, a transitive verb needs to transfer its action to something or someone — an object.) Unfortunately, the object that is failing is me. And no matter how it’s used, it stings as bad as pouring peroxide into an open wound.
I often use “mom fail” to describe yet another parenting moment where I have failed to do something well. (Transitive verb.)
The expression applies to the times I’ve not done something that’s been asked of me. In other words, either my mom-brain has been overwhelmed (a.k.a. I’ve forgotten) or I’ve written it off as a low I’ll-get-to-it-someday priority. (Transitive verb again.)
And lastly, I use the term to describe myself. “I am a mom fail!” How many times have I cried out this sentence with a heart grieving over not being “good enough” at this momming task. This is where the word “fail” takes its position as a noun. Basically, both the definition and my poor emotional state are declaring that I am a failure.
Harsh, I know. Yet too many times, these words have come out of my mouth and poisoned my thoughts. Let me give you a glimpse into some instances where I’ve branded my actions and my character with “mom fail”:
- Hubby and I disagree on a parenting issue and/or the proper consequence for the child. Hubby is much gentler and kinder than I am, so his reaction and disciplinary tactic is less harsh. I’m left feeling like the mean mom and a bad parent. MOM FAIL.
- Knowing that my mother-in-law disapproved of my husband and I spanking our children. My heart ached thinking we’d disappointed her, especially since she raised three great kids without using this discipline technique. MOM FAIL.
- Discovering that my child ran out of clothes on our weekend trip because I trusted him with the task of packing for himself… and I didn’t check his bag. MOM FAIL.
- My child uses inappropriate language that he has picked up from me. MOM FAIL.
- Instead of going with my gut feeling and bailing upon meeting the first oral surgeon I took my son to, we “stuck it out” with the guy only to have him rudely mistreat my child during the procedure prep. Had I listened to my mom intuition, we can have avoided the oral trauma and made better orthodontic progress with another specialist. MOM FAIL.
Can you relate to any of these?
The thing is that we moms, well… we’re human. We’re going to get a lot of things wrong during our journey of motherhood. It’s life.
No matter how hard I strive for perfection, or how hard I try to keep my boys from hurt, heartache and hard times… I will fail. And so will you.
But that does not mean I am a mom fail. You, my friend, ARE NOT a mom fail. So let’s stop referring to ourselves and our actions as such.
As long as you’re lovin’ the heck out of your kiddos, as long as you’re protecting them as best as possible and providing their basic needs, and trying your darndest to make them respectful kids of good character… I’d say you are an amazing mom.
We need to remember that we are not failures. We may not get everything right. (Or anything right, if you have teenagers.) But we are not failing our kids!
The trying unsuccessful moments we suffer through are not mom fails.
The expectations that we place upon ourselves and fall short of does not make us a mom fail.
Let’s just take the “mom fail” phrase and knock it out of our vocabulary. Ain’t nobody got time for that kind of talk or thinking. It does nothing but pull us down and distract us from what our hearts truly desire… to be the best mom possible for our children.
If you want to use the F word, let’s call it Failing Forward. We are learning from our experiences and growing from them. I know I can’t be great at everything, but I am happy to fail forward from my disappointing moments if it leads to me becoming a better mom.
In other words, if my kid has to wear some already sweated in shorts two days in a row because his suitcase wasn’t sufficiently packed… so be it. We’ll both remember the experience for our next trip.
If my child is using adult words… well, that’s a good reminder to me that children truly do pick up on everything and that I need to be more cautious with how I speak.
When our children don’t do well at something, we don’t scream “fail” and shame them for poor execution or behavior.
So moms, stop being so hard on yourself. Mom life is not easy. Kids do some pretty bizarre and unexpected things that we moms gotta roll with. Sometimes we’ll enjoy a big win. Sometimes we’ll experience a big fail forward. But either way, you are amazing. So keep doing that!