June 10, 2015

Oh, Mama, You are Not a Failure (And That Thing You Didn't Do Is SO Not a Mom Fail)

A while ago, one of my Facebook mama friends put up a post saying she thought she might be the only mom around who hadn't taken a last-day-of-school picture of her kids. She hashtagged her post "mom fail." 
Um, no. That's #beingtoohardonyourself.


know this mom, and she is amazing. She cares about her kids. She's enthusiastic and involved. I've never seen her when she wasn't smiling. (Note to my children: no, you cannot have her instead of me.)
I also get that she probably wasn't really being that hard on herself. But maybe she was? The pressure to be the best moms we can be is huge because we know a terrible, wonderful truth: THIS JOB MATTERS. And because it does, we want to get it right. Or, at the very least, we want to try to get it right most of the time.

My struggle--and it's one I know other moms fight against--is that getting it right can get out-of-control. In her mom must-have, Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul, Angela Thomas warns, "The 'right thing' can be good, and then it can be oppressive and consuming. The 'right thing' can become more about keeping rules and performing for others. Doing the right thing can become a substitute for Christlikeness."

In Christ, we are covered by grace. But if never failing as a mom becomes a goal we pursue at any cost, it is an idol. And Jonah 2:8 is starkly clear that grace and idolatry cannot live together peacefully in the same spiritual house: "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."
I don't want to give up grace that could be mine. I don't want you to give up grace that could be yours.
It never actually occurred to me to take a "last day of school"
shot of my girls. Until I realized, "Hello! Your older daughter is DRIVING
now. This might be the last time they ever wait at the bus stop together.
Cue the Panasonic Lumix ASAP!"
Missing a kid photo-op, whether it's the first day of school or the last day of school or some day in between, does not mean you have gotten motherhood wrong. It doesn't make you a failure as a parent. And I, personally, don't think these supposed mom misses qualify for the fail hashtag, either:
1. Not serving a vegetable with dinner once in a while.
2. Serving ice cream for dinner once in a while.
3. Telling your kids "not right now...I'm reading a book" when they ask you to play a game with them. (This is most especially NOT a mom fail when the game in question is Princess Memory. Really. The last time I had a memory high-functioning enough to tell all those girls apart AND keep track of them, I had my maiden name and got 8 hours of sleep every night.)
4. Letting your kids watch TV for a little while.
5. Loving your alone time.
6. Letting your kids have pop/soda once in a while.
7. Letting your kids quit piano lessons. (After they've given it a good effort.) Even if they "show promise" and could be amazing. And play at Carnegie Hall. And perform a song they dedicate out loud to you.
8. Not sending your kids to summer camp. Ever. Because you just never got around to figuring it out. (Sorry, girls.)
9. Telling your kids, "No, you can't have that thing everyone else has. It's not in our budget right now."
10. Telling your kids, "Your father and I are going to watch this movie while you're still awake because we're too tired to wait until you go to bed to start it. No, you can't watch it with us. We'll do family movie night another time."

11. Not remembering what your firstborn's first word was. 

12. Not creating beautiful, heirloom-level scrapbooks chronicling every small and large moment of your children's lives. (Now. To those of you who love this and do it: good for you! What a gift you are creating! Your children will rise up and call you blessed! But I, personally, am driven to tears by the mere thought of scrapbooking. And while I am far from the smartest mom around, I know that my girls are a lot more bothered by seeing me cry than they are by their scrapbook-less existence.)

13. Not packing school lunches that are organic, colorful, healthful, sugar-free, fiber-full, well-balanced, and so appealing that when other kids want to trade with your child, your child turns down the offer.

14. Feeling overwhelmed by the task of choosing "appropriate" bread and yogurt at the  grocery store. And giving up and just buying Dove bars.

15. Yelling, "Seriously?! There isn't an example or an answer key in this math textbook? Are you kidding me?!" while trying to help your elementary student with her homework. (It goes without saying that you--and by "you," I mean "me"--are not even attempting to help your middle or high-schooler with her math homework.)
And on it goes, but you get the point. Of course, you know what real mom-fails are. Never telling your kids you love them. Never hugging/kissing/back-rubbing them if they'll allow it at all. Calling them derogatory names they'll never get out of their heads. (As my girls would say, "Full-body shudder.") Not doing your best to keep them safe and healthy. And maybe being too proud to ask for help when you get overwhelmed by this incredibly hard but unbelievably important calling called motherhood.
If you're the kind of mom who's worried enough about doing a good job to give yourself a mom-fail hashtag, you're probably not doing anything to deserve one. 
In fact, I think you deserve ice cream for dinner. (Or those Dove bars you bought instead of bread and yogurt...see #15.) You could even share some with your family. I'll bet they'd call that a #momscore.

What do you think should be stricken from the list of alleged mom fails? 
Let me know...I'd love to add it on!



Gratefully linked with:




63 comments:

  1. Love this! I think women tend to beat themselves up whether they are a mom or not. We see perfection portrayed in our world and comparisons easily follow. We are beautiful gifts from God and when He chose us, He wired us to be the best we can be. Thank you for this beautiful reminder today. We are good enough and amazing moms just as we are. Blessed you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much, Mary! I deeply appreciate your encouragement and your wise words. Thank you for taking time on your Saturday to stop by for a visit!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great mama post! I'm a nana now, but I'll pass this on for the young mamas in our church.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! :) Blessings to you in your "nana" season...I can already imagine the joys of it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I love this!! Very refreshing start to my day with a huge pat on the back that I really am doing a good job at this "mom" thing. Thank you, Elizabeth!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks, Heather! And this I know for sure: you are rocking "this mom thing." :) Blessings on your week (of recital fever?...wink, wink!).

      Delete
  5. Elizabeth, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment on my blog post...I LOVE your post...as a momma and a grandmomma who consistently leans to the grace-side-of-things, I totally agree with your entire list...here's one I heard from Dr. Sally Karioth, a grief therapist, that our entire family repeats to this day..."If you get there before it's over, you're not late..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Beth! And I love your addition. :)

      Delete
  6. Wonderful post!! Thank you for linking up up with the OMHGWW!! Please share with us again next week! Have a great night!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ashleigh! I will definitely be back to the party! :)

      Delete
  7. Great post because we may not be what some look on as perfect but we are not failures when we love them and bring them up to know God loves them too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Sandra! You got it. :) Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  8. Very sweet post! Moms can definitely be too hard on ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jamie! That's the rub, isn't it: we need to hold ourselves to a high standard because what we're doing matter so much, but we have to fight against expecting perfection from ourselves that only belongs to God. Thanks so much for taking time to visit!

      Delete
  9. Love this! Such a truthful post that all of us mamas need to remember!!

    liz jo @ sundays with sophie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Liz Jo. Blessings for stopping by...I just visited your sweet site and will be following you now on Pinterest! :)

      Delete
  10. Oh you should add when your teenager yells I hate you at the top of her lungs and slams her bedroom door then comes out 15 minutes later pretending nothing ever happened. LOL :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are SO right, Dixie! What a wild but wonderful ride parenting teenage girls is! I love it, but it does keep a mama on her toes, doesn't it? Thanks for taking time to read and comment!

      Delete
  11. My mommy fail today was when my 7yo got up already dressed ;-) I laughed...it happens :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Antonia, that sounds to me like a #momscore to me...you were already one step ahead for the day! Thanks so much for visiting!

      Delete
  12. I Love this post! So funny! And encouraging! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called "Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday" - I share bloggers' amazing posts that I've found during the week. I hope that' ok! Have a great night!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you, Danielle! That is so sweet of you! I love "Roll Out the Red Carpet Thursday" and will be beyond honored to make your list. It's like a Reader's Digest for blog posts. :) Thank you so much!

      Delete
  13. Wow! As a new mother, I especially feel the pressure of being "the best mom", it's my first time doing this so I feel like I have to do everything exactly right. This made me feel much better about everything actually. I think #5 might be the most important actually - having alone time means that when you do spend time with your children, you're not longing to have some freedom :) I'm going to share this on our blog facebook because I feel like all those mommies out there that feel the pressure will like knowing it's ok to not be the perfect, cookie cutter mom!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh I forgot to mention, thanks for linking it up @ Welcome Home Wednesday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now it's my turn to say "wow," Sam! Bless your sweet mama's heart! It means so much to me that my little list could encourage another mom in some small way. I've been a mom for such a long time now that I forget how it feels to be at the beginning of the motherhood journey, figuring it all out and wanting so much to get everything "right." But "perfection" is a tyrant, and no mom has time or energy for tyranny! :) As I tried to say in the piece, if you are the kind of mom who is worried about doing a good job, you almost certainly ARE doing one. I messed up (and mess up!) again and again with my daughters, but 16 years in, they love me like crazy and I love them like crazy right back, and that fills my mom heart with joy. Thank you so much for taking time to read and to leave your precious comment...AND for hosting the fabulous Welcome Home Wednesday party!

      Delete
  15. I'm not a Mama yet, but know this will be really important for me to remember someday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, you're already a wise future-mama, Kelsie! :) I don't want to self-promote here, but can I just say that I advise reading mom advice more along these lines and less along the lines of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Which I, personally, found...oppressive. But that's just me! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  16. Ahahahaha, I have done too many of these that I want to admit. You have a point, we are way too hard on ourselves. I appreciate the reminder =) Thank you for posting to Welcome Home Wednesday Link party. See you next week! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, fellow Michigan mama! And you don't have to admit anything. As I said, I truly believe moms who care about whether they're doing a good job usually are. :) So glad I found WHW...looking forward to the next cyber-shindig!

      Delete
  17. I love this. The struggle is real. As a working mom it's so hard to juggle it all sometimes. I return from maternity leave on October 5th and I can only imagine how things will go. I feel like we've almost got this routine of two down and now it will be switched up again. It's tricky but God is gracious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Kristy, my heart goes out to you. I know it's a cliche, but I truly don't know how working moms do it! May God grant you Holy Spirit "dunamis" (dynamite!) power to make this transition. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  18. #3 - or Candyland! I don't know what it is about that game, but I cheat to lose just so it will be over. Time flies when you're having fun, and it goes backwards when you're playing Candyland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha, Jenny...SO true! But hang in there: if you haven't already gotten to this point, the game "Headbands" may be in your happy future. You strap a plastic headband (appropriately enough) on you head, load a card that says "aardvark" or "shoebox" or "ice cream cone" or some other random animal or thing into the slot without looking at the card, then ask questions of your opponents to try to guess what's displayed on the card. I love many things about this game, but my #1 feature is that IT CAN BE PLAYED WHILE LYING ON THE FLOOR WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED! ;) Thanks for taking time to read and comment!

      Delete
  19. This is just so fantastic! I love every bit of it. I especially needed this after the visit with the pediatrician today. She was just trying to be helpful, but she was a worry wart and quizzed me on everything from milk consumption, to dentists and previous pediatricians, to having a carbon detector in the home and more, a lot more actually. Anyway, such a great post. I need to let it sink in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks, Natalie! And goodness: with a pediatrician like that, who needs the IRS? ;) Your love for your sweet ones and your dedication as a mom shines through in all your posts, so you deserve some grace today! Thanks for taking time out of your busy mom life to read and to leave your kind comments. You're a treasure!

      Delete
  20. Thanks for the (really funny!) reminder of all the ways that we don't fail at this mom thing, no matter how much we think we are. No one is perfect, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Amber! As my daughter once said when she was playing school and talking to her pretend class: "stop trying to be perfect...start trying to be better." We just need to try to be the "betterest" moms we can be. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  21. I love this! It's so real and honest, which we need more of in this world! Thanks for sharing at the Sat. Soiree & Social Media Share. You're featured this week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness, thank you, Sarah Ann! I'm so glad I found your sweet Soiree and am thrilled to be featured! What fun...and if my little list can encourage even one other mom, it will be a good day indeed. Thank you so much!

      Delete
  22. I always feel bad for loving time alone but then feel guilty about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Janette, you should NOT feel guilty! As a mom, you are always pouring out good stuff onto your children and family. But you can't pour out what you're not filled with in the first place. If time alone fills you up (as it does me!!!!!!), get it, do it, cherish it, savor it, and pursue it. You are worth it, and so are the people time alone will help you to bless more fully. P.S. I'm thinking someone needs to do a post called "3 Reasons Moms Should Not Feel Guilty About 'Alone Time.' " :)

      Delete
  23. This is so encouraging to read, Elizabeth. It offers such a different perspective on our "failures" as mothers. I agree, we want to get this parenting thing right most of the time, but getting it right can also be consuming, and can eventually doing more harm to us and our family than good. I love the list, especially the scrapbook bit. I can relate. I have boxes upon boxes of pictures of my daughter, and they'll be placed in albums. The thought of chronicling it via scrapbook gives me anxiety. Though its beautiful, I don't have that kind of creative juice flowing through me.

    Thank you for reminding us that it's ok to be imperfect. It reminds me of a post I just wrote for this week. In it, I realized that motherhood isn't about perfection or doing things just right, it's about doing what's best for your family. And that fact alone is enough for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee...I think we crossed paths at the party, Maria! I am almost positive I read your lovely post about perfection and motherhood and left my own comment on it! It seems we are thinking alike! I love what you say here about our good intentions getting out of control and "doing more harm to us and our family than good." Exactly. Some things have to be done--and done well. But not all. Some don't have to be done at all. And some, we can "get by" on where good enough is good enough. Thank you for taking time to stop by today...I'm glad I got to read your post first thing this morning! :)

      Delete
  24. As moms we put so much pressure on ourselves, like my chocolate chip cookie fail, or missing the Easter egg hunt by 10 minutes. In the end the kids had more fun making their own hunt in the backyard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Home Sweet Home Team! I can only imagine that your at-home, spontaneous Easter egg hunt will end up being a treasured family memory far longer than the one you were "supposed" to go to! :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  25. So, so very true!! Thanks for the encouragement this morning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hannah, I'm so glad it resonates with someone besides just me! And encouraging other moms is my greatest hope for this blog...thank you so much for taking time to stop by today!

      Delete
  26. I love this! So fun and real and FREEING! Thank you for voicing what moms everywhere need to hear more of!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness...thank you, Becky! It thrills, humbles, and delights me to read that. Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and to encourage me so greatly with your kind words!

      Delete
  27. Great post :) I got way out of control trying to be the perfect Mom, the perfect working mom at the time. It drove me into a complete spiral that took a long time to recover from. Now I finally feel back to my self and the pressure is gone. Your post is so very true and well written. Thanks for the encouraging words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Kimberly...thank you so much for the gift of your perspective and feedback! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking time to share a little piece of your story and to encourage me that what I've tried to express here rings with some truth. Bless you, mama...and thank you again!

      Delete
  28. I love this, Elizabeth. My son's been hired to feed farm animals for a week while a family is away. After yesterday morning and finding a snake in the big coop, he refused to deal with the chickens and the smaller coop. Just this morning, I made my son face his fears and walk into the chicken coop while I stood there praying there was no snake to be found. I could have done it for him, but what lesson would he have learned? Bless his heart, I'm a mean Momma. :) Thank you for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Lori...it's always such a joy to hear from you! What a big job for your son...and you are surely no mean momma! It sounds to me like you made a hard but wise (WHY do those two always seem to go together?) choice to do the greater thing. Your son must feel such a sense of accomplishment and victory. Good job, you! Thank you for another welcoming Thankful Thursday linkup! xoxo

      Delete
  29. I love this Elizabeth. I've so done wayy too many of these as well. And I have to say I'm super proud of myself, not for 'messing up my kids' but for being human and showing my kids a life, not yelling and screaming, but making good memories. Even my four year old knows there's a time for behavior and a time to just make good memories ;)
    So glad we've re-connected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Being human and showing my kids a life, not yelling and screaming, but making good memories." Oh my goodness, that it is IT, isn't it, Amanda?! "Showing my kids a life"? I love that so much. It sounds like you have already taught your four-year-old one of the best lessons of all. And that, surely, is a #momscore.

      Delete
  30. Sometimes, I wonder what is it about Motherhood that has us all questioning ourselves all.the.time. Then, I remember that if we weren't seriously questioning ourselves and striving to do better then we'd be taking this incredibly important and life changing role for granted. Or, we don't care. Yet, I refuse to believe that *most* mothers in all circumstances don't care, I do think sometimes they just don't know what to do. This career is so so difficult and I'm glad to see some simple reminders about being so hard on myself. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kendall, thank you so much for taking time to read this post and for leaving your thoughtful response. I love the way you put this: "I remember that if we weren't seriously questioning ourselves and striving to do better then we'd be taking this incredibly important and life changing role for granted." That is IT. Thank you for sharing your words and heart!

      Delete
  31. Very light-hearted yet meaningful! I love Angela Thomas' writing too - especially her book 52 Things Kids Need From a Mom. You made me laugh because we threw a massively huge family birthday party for my two-year-old and didn't get a single picture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you...what a nice thing of you to say! I'm checking on-line for that Thomas book at my library as soon as I'm done with this comment! And I love that party story...if it was a "massively huge family birthday party," no wonder you didn't have time or mental energy to think about a picture! And now you know: that was NOT a #momfail. :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  32. What a fun way to write about a really serious topic. Moms tend to be SOOO hard on themselves, especially in this age of social media sharing. We compare our shortcomings to everyone else's strengths and somewhere along the line start to think that we really SHOULD be able to do it all. But in reality, we were never meant to do it all. We were meant to do the best we could and then work WITH others around us and benefit from their strengths. That's how we make it through this life...together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless your heart and amen to all, Meg! You hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much for taking time to share your wise words and perspective.

      Delete
  33. Love this!!! I've been known to hand out Oreos for breakfast on occasion. It's all about Balance and doing the best you can. ThanKS for the encouragement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Erin! And this--"it's all about balance and doing the best you can"? Yes, yes, yes. You nailed it. Thank YOU for the encouragement!:)

      Delete

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!