A Generous Grace

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25 Ways it is Okay to Fail as a Mom

25 ways ok to fail

As I was noodling on blog post ideas, my son (the one with ADHD) was having an epiphany of his own. His chore was cleaning out under the bed, which I highly advise on a regular basis if your children’s Tazmanian-devil style of activity tends to whirl things into deep crevices beneath furniture, as mine does.

My son, however, recovered a pack of markers. So he thought of what any red-blooded boy would: What if my big toe were colored completely green?

Well, he found out. As did we all. It leaves toe-shaped green prints all over Grandma’s carpet.

Good grief.

So, in the vein of bringing the Gospel into our lives—where we’re honest about our failures and looking at them in light of who God is—I have decided to post for you 25 ways that it is okay to fail as a mom, inspired by real life. Mostly mine.

Even as I compiled this list, my husband looked at me. “Well, isn’t God bigger than all our failures? I mean, not like that makes them not failures, or not bad”—but that we have incredible peace as moms, knowing that our kids’ ultimate safety and well-being doesn’t end with us. If this hits a sore spot, check out a note for you on the day you blow it.

As Andree Seu so aptly writes, “I started out wanting to be my children’s savior, and ended up pleading for forgiveness.”

That said: a list of it’s-okay-failures.

  1. Your kid poops in the closet, then blames it on the dog.
  2. Your kid hops out of the shower, then hops on his bike outside without stopping to access clothing.
  3. You make an entire week of burned, over-spiced, disgusting, Alpo-like, and/or mediocre dinners.
  4. Every now and then you let the kids eat a dinner primarily taken from the top level of the food pyramid (you know, the one labeled “FATS, OILS, AND SWEETS: USE SPARINGLY”).
  5. Your kid breaks something in your mother’s house, but forgets to tell anyone. Oops.
  6. Your kid thoughtfully recommends to someone they should stop smoking.
  7. Your kid complains, “This milk tastes yucky!” You chastise them for their stubborn nature. You discover said milk is spoiled. Oops.
  8. Your kid breaks wind at a family dinner. Repeatedly. It smells as if he has been dining on sardines and French fries.
  9. Your kid pokes Grandma’s arm-dangle with wide-eyed fascination.
  10. You discipline your child with unrequited volume, and then find out someone was at the door.
  11. A friend stops by for an unannounced visit. Your house looks like, as Jerry Seinfeld so aptly puts it, you have a blender, but not the lid.
  12. Your kid melts down in the middle of the grocery store. Then you do, too.
  13. Your kid flushes all of the Tupperware lids down the toilet. Daddy has to dig up the septic system.
  14. Your kid wears pants that show his ankles.
  15. Your daughter holds her dress up during the entire Christmas performance.
  16. Your kid sneezes on someone’s food.
  17. Your kid licks the top of the Parmesan cheese at Pizza Hut.
  18. Your son’s stick figure illustration of you has hands on (delightfully slender) stick-hips, because, “Well, you’re angry a lot.”
  19. Your kid picks his nose and then shakes someone’s hand with gusto.
  20. Your kid hides behind your skirt during an entire wedding reception.
  21. You forget her lunch for school. Again.
  22. You kill Captain Nemo, the class goldfish, on his weekend home.
  23. Your homeschooled child replies that the ancient Greek poet who authored the Iliad and the Odyssey is named, of course (“it’s on the tip of my tongue!”) Alvin Poover. (Alvin who?) This is in the same week he replies that a five-sided polygon is called–wait for it–a hoxagon.
  24. You find your son urinating in someone else’s bushes, or in full view of your pleasant suburban street.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

C’mon, dish! What’s one of your favorite all-time mom fails?

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9 Comments

  1. Love this post and as you know can relate. Just this moment my 6yr old who had just gotten her nails painted was told she could play after straightening her room. She makes a dash to her room with her sister chasing her saying “Don’t touch your stuff your going to get polish all over it!” to which she exclaimed “Don’t worry I am going to use MY FOOT.” Yes this should be fun. And yes I expect polish smeared towels will mysteriously appear in the laundry.

    • I can just picture it! My sister had a similar thing happen while she was nursing…2-y-old totally got into the polish and left little prints all over EVERYTHING. Love your story, and that we can laugh at stuff like this together!

  2. Oh man! This was great! Just yesterday my homeschooled child loudly asked in the grocery store “What’s the Fourth of July?” And when I replied “Independence Day” she loudly questioned “What’s Independence Day?” They lady standing next to me just laughed but then seemed mortified when I asked her who her teacher was and she looked at me confused and said “You are.” I laughed and replied “I know. It was kind of a joke.” Ooh well, I guess we needed to cover that lesson better.

    • Sooooo get this. 🙂 🙂 Somehow when my homeschooled child says something dorky, all faces swivel to me! Oh, well. The benefits so outweigh the “duh” moments!

  3. Hmmmm let’s see.
    1. That time you didn’t take a diaper bag to your FOURTH child’s first doctor’s appt. I mean the child is 8 days old, what could he possibly need? :/
    2. That time you got all the way to church and realized your four year old DID NOT HAVE SHOES ON.
    3. That time you locked the keys AND your 2 and 3 year old daughters in the car on a cold October day.
    4. Sunday nights we often have popcorn and slushes for dinner.
    5. This is after letting the kids binge watch netflix for three hours so we can get a nap.
    6. That time you THREW AWAY the pack-n-play because you could. not. face. cleaning up another Poopy Picasso creation.
    7. “Please keep your mouth to yourself.”
    8. “What is wrong with you! I, mean, no, that’s not what I mean. I’m sorry, I mean…”
    9. “Your hair is not a napkin.”
    10. Finding SEDIMENT in the tub after bath time.
    11. That time I let my kids read this list and they immediately started coming up with more suggestions for me. Hmmmm
    Well, I could go on and on, but that’s enough boasting for now.

  4. Oh Janel, I guess I’m NOT ready for a 2nd round of motherhood. Your perspectives are so straight forward and honest…. You are such an awesome journalist….(awesome mother as well). Love you, Gma

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