Do you stress out when you’re feeling like a bad mother? Here’s my story of how I felt terrible, then realized it’s not as bad as I thought.
We’ve all felt it. That nagging guilt that we didn’t do enough. That we failed our kids in some way, no matter how trivial. And we can’t seem to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings in motherhood.
I’ve been through this more than once. I generally feel confident as a mom, but I still feel like I messed up somehow. Or that I’m not doing as much as I could.
Some of the ways I was feeling like a bad mother
To combat my useless but incessant feelings of failure as a mom, I decided to write down some of the ways I ‘failed’… and what eventually happened. As you’ll see, the results aren’t always as dire as we make it out to be.
Mom Fail #1: I was late picking up my son from school.
We had a huge project at work, the kind where you’re sitting in a meeting with the CEO. During my mad dash to my son’s school, I worried about what he’d would think. How worried he must be, and maybe even sad that I didn’t pick him up on time.
The result: My son was just so glad to see me. He didn’t scold me for picking him up late. His teacher did say he cried and got nervous when he noticed his routine was off, but the minute we locked eyes, he was fine. I told myself that this was such a rare circumstance, too. All the other times I picked him up on time more than outweighs the one or two times I’ve picked him up late.
Mom Fail #2: I stressed out about cooking dinner on time.
The ‘witching hours’ can be some of the most stressful in any household. Your kids are cranky and tired from the events of the day. They’re wired. And they need to let loose at home. Meanwhile, that’s also the time when most families prepare dinner.
I’m better about prepping ingredients the night before, but on this particular day, I didn’t. And the recipe wasn’t easy, not the kind you throw in the oven or in a pot of soup and walk away. I was scrambling all over the kitchen, stressing about having the food ready by five o’clock, our regular dinner time.
Of course, it’s also this time that the kids needed this and that. Or they’d fight about something and need your help in resolving the conflict. Rushing to get dinner at the table with three kids underfoot, all without any preparation the night before became a challenge.
The result: I eventually finished the dinner, even if it wasn’t on time (no one but me noticed). And my three kids and I got to hang out in the kitchen. Sure, they’d need my help or held my cooking back, but in hindsight, I felt accomplished for being able to cook from scratch with all three around.
Mom Fail #3: I told my son ‘no’ when he asked to read.
I have a rule that if my kids ask to read, I would stop what I’m doing to do just that. Even if I was in the middle of a task, I would still read at least one book. I want to instill the message that reading is so important, it’s worth putting other things on hold.
Except there are times when it doesn’t work out. Sometimes I have a good excuse, like I’m sauteing something crazy in the kitchen and can’t spare even a minute away from the stove. Other times, thankfully rare, I’m just flat out not in the mood.
So one of the times I felt like I failed was when I didn’t read to my eldest when he asked me to. I don’t even remember why I had said no on this particular day—maybe I was doing something important, or it could be that I just didn’t feel like it. Either way, I felt terrible for turning him down.
The result: He didn’t mind at all and instead read the book on his own. And like every night, I was able to read to my kids for a long time. Not sure if this ‘made up’ for my earlier flub, but I felt better that at least we were able to still do our regular reading.
Mom Fail #4: I yelled at my kids.
Few things make me feel like I’ve failed my kids than when I lose my temper. In one such situation, I got upset at one of my twins when it seemed like he hit his brother for no reason (there’s always a reason!). On another occasion, I yelled when they got picky about their food. And I’ve heaved plenty of sighs over something as petty as when they’re whining.
The thing with temper is that it’s so reactive. It’s so easy to boil inside and raise your voice, thinking that just because you’re the parent, you have authority to do that. Parents are yelling at their kids more, especially with damaging statements that belittle or attack the child’s character.
And so when I yelled at my kids (thankfully not the belittling kind), I can’t help but feel awful, often within seconds of getting upset. And despite knowing everyone yells and that I hardly yell at my kids, I still feel like I failed them for raising my voice.
The result: Kids are some of the most forgiving people ever, hands down. After I lost my temper, I apologized and called myself out on my mistake. Thankfully they’re able to take the overall package rather than isolated incidents.
These admissions aren’t meant as a cop out or an excuse to get a pass with parenting. Just because my son was okay with me picking him up late doesn’t mean I should make that a regular thing, for instance. Instead, I write posts like these for the times when I feel like I haven’t measured up. To remind myself that I put way more pressure on myself than my kids will ever do.
And that, in the end, it almost always works out.
Discuss more moments about how we’ve ‘failed as a mom’:
- Unfair Reasons We Get Mad at Our Kids
- How to Change Bad Habits Effectively
- Moms: Asking for Help Does NOT Mean You’re Failing
- What Are You Proud of Today?
- 5 Reasons I Suck at Being a Mom Sometimes
Your turn: When have you felt like you failed as a mom? And how did it eventually turn out? Let me know in the comments!
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