After almost seventeen years of mothering, I wish I could say the successes stand out in my mind more than the epic catastrophes, but it doesn’t really work that way. Mom Guilt has a way of following us around, clinging tighter than the muffin top I have to lose every spring.
What I do know is that my kids are far less harsh on me than I am.
What they see is a mom who tries.
They see a blur of love, interrupted here and there by random blips of unmet expectations; maybe a harsh tone or a disappointment. But overall, the grace my kids give me is a gift I need to give myself this Mother’s Day.
Maybe you need some mama grace too. What I’m discovering is that behind most of my #MOMFAILS is a sweet surprise, but I have to be open to receive the gift.
In every disaster, there is a treasure waiting to be found. Here are a few of my more recent ones…
MOMFAIL #1 Mother’s Tea
“Excuse me, I need to speak with you about the Mother’s Day Tea for kindergarten,” I whispered under my breath to my daughter’s teacher.
The teacher stopped and swiveled, “What’s up?”
“I have a work conflict. It’s an event I’m in charge of at the exact same day and time. I feel awful but I don’t want to jeopardize my job. Is there some alternative form of celebration for the mom’s who miss this event?”
“I’m so sorry, ………(insert longest pause ever) but I don’t know because I’ve never had a mother miss this special day before.”
And this is where I tumble head first into the hole of #MOMFAIL
Never, ever, like ever? I’m the first mom in all of Christian school history to miss this important day. Wow. Ok. I suck. I’m the worst ever.
A few days later I burst into tears on the school playground when I share with the other moms–you know, the ones ALL going to the event. They pat me on the back and love me despite my inability to balance work and kids,
For a week I torture myself.
Then I decide to reclaim my holiday, dang it! I pull out of my funk and make a plan. I will stop piling on the layers and layers of smothering guilt and take back my day from these unrealistic expectations of being a perfect Pinterest whole foods 100% available mom.
I finally put off telling my tell my kid and I break the news to her. She is sad, and so am I. We cry together and hold one another. And then after we dry the tears, we plan a special day where we will play hooky from school and work and life and simply be together. Grandma will go to her classroom party and I will do my job that helps to pay our mortgage so we can live in the home we both love.
A few weeks later, I am laying on the grass next to a bubbling fountain with my darling child snuggled up to me, the very same one I tragically disappointed. We are reading a book of inspirational quotes, eating a grand picnic of fried chicken and brownies and relaxing together looking at the clouds. We spend the morning at the pool, get smoothies, have our nails done and lavish attention all over each other.
And I wouldn’t have had this delicious moment without the other disaster. This #MOMFAIL had a happy ending. Maybe not the ending I thought I wanted, but a beautiful connecting day only God could orchestrate.
MOMFAIL #2 I have no hobby
My teenage daughter and I are driving. She is eating some handmade awesomeness another mom conjured up in her organic whole food kitchen.
I try some. “It’s good,” I comment.
Then we pull up to the school and a J Serra mom walks by the car in her super awesome yoga outfit. My daughter mentions that’s her friend’s mom who is obsessed with Yoga. “She can bend like a twig, mom.”
“That’s cool,” I reply.
“Mom, what are you obsessed with?” my daughter asks slyly, knowing full well I have no hobby. Yes, I work out a little, cook modestly, read some, and watch one show a week, but I don’t really have a hobby. I am HOBBY-LESS.
I know this is a trick question and I have no trick answer.
“I guess you kids are my hobby.” I say with a shrug feeling like a loser.
“Awww, Mom, I like that hobby best of all!” And then my strong independent teenage girl smiles and gives me a big squishy hug.
And I am so freaking blessed!
MOMFAIL #3 My Kid Isn’t Going Away to a Fancy College
After a year of applications, standardized tests from hell, and calls from recruiters every night, my son finally decided on his dream school.
He had 11 offers and 4 walk-ons from Division 1 to D3 for football. I am so proud of my boy.
They were great schools.
And then when he tries to accept his dream school offer we hit a road block. The iron clad offer fell through. The school over-committed and bumped my kid. After signing day. After we turned down offers from other schools.
And although I won’t list the name of this college (thanks for breaking my kids heart you jack wagon defensive coordinator in the central CA area), it was a horrible experience.
So we scrambled and tried to put back together options, but some things you just can’t put back together–hopes and dreams that shatter.
After a grueling decision, my son decided to stay local and play football for a great Jr. College.
But this was not in my plan. It felt like a massive failure. When Amherst and Dartmouth and the University of Chicago call every week, this disappointment HURT MY EGO.
And I was forced to surrender once again.
After I got over myself, I realized my son was happy with his decision–vibrant even. The burden he carried so heavily on his shoulders lifted. Maybe he wasn’t ready to go away yet. Maybe I wasn’t ready for him to go either. And now I get another year (or two) with my beloved kid.
Maybe to the world of prep schools it was a #MOMFAIL, but I found tremendous joy in letting go of my own impossible expectations.
Happy Mother’s Day! May it be filled with GRACE and open arms to the failures that make us better!
If you are looking for a fun way to connect with your son, consider the Mother Son Brunch at J Serra!