Several years ago I wrote about a post called Dear Sweet Mom Who Feels Like She is Failing.
It went viral.
Like over a million views of a whole bunch of us dealing with this failing stuff.
So, in a moment of obvious brilliance, I kind of gathered that so many of us felt like we were failing as moms. Viral kind of lends to that, idea, in a way. Email after email came after I told everyone to change those failing thoughts to the words I can do it.
I can do it.
I think in the years that have passed we’ve missed the point, in a way, of the call to action of that post. Sure, sure and yes, yes it’s answered the question about failing. But the words of I can do it? Well, in some ways it acknowledges that we’ve all fallen down. We’ve all found ourselves at places in this motherhood journey or walk or whatever you want to describe it where we are at our worst. Worst spots. Where we totally feel like we’ve failed – our kids, our families and ourselves. And those worst spots can suck the life from our hearts.
But what if we’ve missed that failing might not be intrinsically bad? What if we’re trying so ridiculously hard to not fail when we simply miss well the trying?
What if failing, in some ways, means that we’ve been trying and living and risking and loving?
Okay, bear with me, finding joy finders, but get this — in order to succeed in life we have to deal with failing. I don’t win a race – I start to train. I mess up scales on the piano – I practice. I screw up laundry and colors bleed – I learn a lesson. Hypothetically we could argue that Edison failed over a thousand times before he figured out how to make that lightbulb that is now in our homes. A thousand times – and yet – yet listen here – we don’t think of him as a failure.
We see his success. We celebrate his tenacity. We think that he’s an example in perseverance.
Do you realize that you’re the same?
Yeah, I know it’s not a lightbulb, but well, in some ways it’s more crazy. You’re mothering independent free spirited spitfires drive us crazy don’t go to bed don’t let us know when they’re getting home kids who have minds of their own and you somehow have to survive this having no prior experience. There’s not really a training course – there’s just you and me – stumbling and failing sometimes – and then get this – GETTING BACK UP.
Courage and tenacity.
That’s the power in what you are doing. I know, you’re probably dismissing it as just motherhood, but come on sister on this journey, when in the world did you ever walk this journey before? You’re going to fall. So don’t apologize to me or your friends for falling. Don’t apologize for trying. Don’t apologize for not having it all together either. Because, the truth is, none of us do.
Last week, when I was in Winnipeg for work, I offered to drive a friend of mine from our first speaking place to dinner. As she walked through the slushy snow to my sand and salt covered van I apologized. Just ignore the mess inside — hahah – I have kids. That’s what I told her.
And I thus forced her to confront my own ridiculous feelings of needing to have it all together as a mom. Well, the truth is that I have kids. And kids leave messes in my home and van and they don’t have it all together either. So I slapped my own perceived agenda of being seen like I had it all together on my friend. She in return had to reply oh hahah don’t worry I’m a mom and I get it.
I get it.
You know what? Maybe we should all just drop the crazy agenda of having it together and running from the idea of failing and just agree that every single day we have to stand up again. We have to stand up again. And again. And again. I clean the van, the van gets messy and so forth. That’s not failing.
The real failing moments in life come when we quit. And I mean not just for the night when we decide that we’re having take out chicken and potato salad and the kids play media all night and you send them to bed without brushing their teeth. That’s not failing. That’s surviving a Wednesday. (At least that’s what happened in my house tonight). You see, you don’t quit. Maybe we need to stop running from the failing as a bad thing and really start to see the power in trying trying trying trying.
When I spoke with moms at our meet up in Salt Lake City we all talked about how hard it is to be real with each other for FEAR THAT OUR FRIENDS WILL LEAVE US. I can’t even type that. And then I did in all bold because I just want you to read what we’re dealing with. Listen. Be the friend to your friends that sticks with them. Be the friend that says don’t apologize for your van. Be the friend that doesn’t apologize for the van. Be the friend that sticks with each other when everything hits the fan.
We can exist on this earth and in our motherhood circles and preschool pick up lines and facebook status updates on a superficial level where our biggest failure moments are when we forgot to bring treats. Or we can all collectively decide that we all fail but that we’re not going to sit in that stuff but are rather going to be there extending a hand to our friends and loving them WHERE THEY ARE. And enough apologizing too. But that’s another post, hah.
We shouldn’t feel the need to protect our friends from our hearts. It’s like my van — what in the world was the warning about the kidness of the space? You know what? I was afraid of being judged. But, but, and here’s a bit of truth for you to ponder — she wasn’t judging me — I was imposing judgment on me.
So sweet mom.
First, you’re not failing when you keep trying. And even on the times when it feels like it’s a big fat F let me tell you that I’m proud of you. Second, think of Edison and the lightbulb and how that relates to motherhood. We probably won’t have it figured out until we’re grandmas — thus what makes grandmas so darn wise (miss mine). And finally, let’s all decide to LOVE EACH OTHER for not being perfect but for just being real. The longer we hold up a filter to the reality of our lives the longer we’ll exist feeling alone.
So smile at the mom next to you. Call your friend. Invite her in even if it’s messy. Tell her about the time you failed. Celebrate the time you all succeeded. Our hearts need a kindred spirit. They really do – feeling alone is horrible. So you are the start.
I love you for all you do. For trying and struggling through the failing moments and for just deciding to not playing the comparison game. Because you know what? I’m there with you. I have days that are rotten and days that are great and days where I want to quit and days where I push through. We all do.
You don’t have to try so hard to be loved and valued.
Just be you. Failing or trying or laughing or crying or you.
I have to stop writing. I’m getting teary hoping this resonates exactly where you need it to right now. You know why? BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN YOU. I believe in you right now. Even if you feel like you’ve failed because I will tell you all the times you succeeded.
Be that friend.
The world will change with that. But especially your life.