Failure. The other F-word. Until I had kids, I didn’t have much failure in my life. I was driving the boat and, as a result, could usually steer it out of any white water before I reached the isle of defeat. But… now that I’m a mom at home with 3 small children, I have a much different relationship with failure. I see it skulking around my house every day. This was my dinner tonight.
Some days, I can avoid the alternate F bomb, but on others it gets the best of me and percolates. Here’s the thing with failure, though… it’s ever changing. Amorphous. On one day, failure might be strawberry syrup drizzled on the rug and on another it might be a child pooping in his pants for the second time in 45 minutes. One day- a sippy cup leaking all over my bag, the other- children at each other’s throats all morning.
The irony is that there’s no telling WHICH of these ‘failures’ will resonate the most. Will the Patience Fairy come early and stay late or will she take a siesta?
These are the doubts that rear their head when the Patience Fairy has long abandoned me and the Whining House-Elf has plunked down for the long haul:
• Do I lose my patience with the kids too often? Am I too rigid. Case in point: Eleanor had a birthday party today from 4-6 so dinner was part of the deal. I asked her maybe four times whether she’d eaten enough and wanted dinner and every time the response was a teeth grinding whine of “no”. So when Martha and Oliver were 2 bites into their dinner and I heard the “IIIII’mmmmm huuuunnnngrrry,” moan from Eleanor, I dug in my heels. Which obviously didn’t do anything to temper the situation and you can only imagine how the next 20 minutes went for us:
• As the person home with these children 70% of the time, it’s hard not to take any hiccup or misstep to heart. It’s hard not to fast forward and wonder what implications and affects MY bad day will have on them. Again, on most days I can keep the Failure Fairy at bay, but there are certainly others when I go down that rabbit hole of blame and guilt and loneliness.
Being a stay at home mom is a lonely gig: plenty of moms can sympathize and empathize (and jazzercise?) with the big picture of any given day, but I’m the only person actually experiencing and living with the nuances and ups/ downs of MY day. There is no collaboration or team here between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and that’s a lot of pressure. When three children are crying, there’s no one with whom to tag out. When one child pees on the rug and the other insists on rolling off the couch, and the third one needs her t-shirt drawer opened upstairs…there’s no one else to take the co-pilot seat. And when this is my lunch conversation… there’s no one else with whom to laugh (or cry).
So why are some things failures on one day and not on the next? Fatigue? The proverbial straw and the camel’s back? Jealousy? Comparing ourselves to others? Competition? Probably a little bit of everything. I don’t admit defeat or failure very easily. Certainly it’s not the sort of thing I would readily go into detail with in such a public forum as the blogosphere (no offense to you fine folks), but I’m just as reticent to divulge failure to myself, to friends or to family.
Failures I readily admit:
- I don’t floss
- I don’t remind my kids to brush their teeth every night
- I never cook dinner for my husband
- Hygiene isn’t high on my priority list
Failures I half-heartedly admit:
- I spend too much money on projects and crafts
- My house is too cluttered
- I don’t feed my kids the most nutritious meals
Failures I really struggle to face:
- I need to communicate and connect with my husband more
- I fear that my temper could negatively impact my kids, and the times I have a short fuse have rubbed off on the ways that THEY manage conflicts
- I take the blame when my kids whine or fight or generally act like Veruca Salt
None of us will ever be perfect and finding the balance between striving to be better and giving ourselves a break is a tough challenge. Life should have some failure to it… afterall, a good Fail now and then can motivate, teach and give us a clean slate. But failure can also eat away self esteem and negate many of the legitimate and valuable achievements we all have under our belts. Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a good day and that the Failure Fairy keeps her distance. Otherwise, I might just have to join the dinner conversation to help decompress (turn your volume down for this one…):
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