Are you a failure because you fail your kids? Our answer to this question is actually pretty important. And, contrary to the sort-of-popular belief that there are no right answers, there is only one answer for this. And I think we would all like to answer this with a resounding, “NO! Of course we aren’t failures when we fail our kids.”
But then we get stuck believing the opposite. At least for me, even though I know the truth, I operate out of this place of failure! My emotional control (or lack-thereof) and decision-making is then dictated by the fact that I can’t forgive myself for my mistake or failure. I become even more short with my kids. I snap at my husband. And I allow a continuous stream of yelling at myself go on inside my head.
I’ve been struggling with something since Sunday and I’m hoping sharing the story here will help me stop worrying so much about it. My husband and I brought our daughter to camp Sunday, she’s gone until Thursday. No communication is allowed during the week.
When parents drop off, they typically leave ‘mail’ that the counselors deliver during camp. I prepared all of my daughter’s mail for the week. Then I forgot it at home and didn’t remember until an hour into our drive to camp. It was too late to turn around.
I realize it may not sound like a big deal, but I keep stewing on it! I packaged all these notes and snacks in her mail. All her friends will be opening mail and she’ll have none. Ugh! I still can’t believe I forgot. Please tell me someone else in here has done something equally dumb!
Good thing Stacey’s got a crew of moms ready to encourage her through this mess!
Heather: I forgot this year too. It was the first thing he said to me when I got there to pick him up! I apologized. But, he had such a great time he then began telling me about his week and it became a minor thing.
Nicole: I never send mail to camp!
Stephanie: You’re not alone! This happens to me all the time!
But here’s what I told Stacey and I’ll tell you, too. I told her that I hope she was still able to enjoy her week daughter-free. I hope that she chose to forgive herself, let this go, and apologize when she picked her daughter up. After all, any failure is really just an opportunity to open up conversation with our kids about how we’re human and we’re all kind of a mess at one point or the other!
So what do you do if you’re trapped in the shame spiral of beating yourself up over a “failure”:
· Stop. Just stop down for 60 seconds and give yourself time to let the emotion wash over you and pass. Someone told me once that her psychologist told her (so with so many chains of he said, she said, of course I believe this!) that fighting the emotional response takes longer and more effort than allowing it to come. Scientifically, it takes 60 seconds for those hormones to surge. Then, they’re done!
· Find the lie. Chase down the one-sentence version of what is on repeat in your head. Then, write it down. Here’s my personal favorite: “I’m not equipped for this…” This may be easier said than done. You might not even be aware that you’re lying to yourself or allowing others to lie about who you are. Lies can show up in the form of anxiety, worry, fear, and more.
· Replace it with the truth. Once you’ve found the lie, tell yourself the truth. “I was chosen to be my daughter’s mother, so I absolutely am equipped for this by the God who gave her to me.” Write that down. And then memorize it, so the next time that lie starts to take you over, you can replace it with the truth.
· Practice makes perfect. I believe we can retrain our brains to listen to, believe, and act upon the voices that speak in truth and love. Inside of our heads and inside of our relationships. And that power can change our lives.
· Tell someone. If you can’t seem to pinpoint the lie, the truth, or both, tell someone else how you feel so they can help you! Stacey brought her concern to the Facebook group and received “Been there!” statements AND advice. You are not alone, but you may never realize that until you tell someone else!
Imagine what the rest of your day could look like if you were kind, loving, and truthful to yourself in the good, bad, and ugly. Would it make a difference? I’m gonna say a big fat YES IT WILL! I’m not good at this yet. I’m still practicing, butI hope if you aren’t attempting to shut down those lies in your head, that you start now.
Here’s what’s true about you to get you started: Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Bad moments don’t make you a bad mom. And *THIS JUST IN*, I was able to confirm with your kids, and you are, in fact, Mother of the Year!
What lies do you tell yourself in those challenging moments? The hopeless ones? The lonely ones? The is-it-bedtime-yet ones?
And more importantly, WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
(Don't forget, you can be a truth-teller to other moms, too! We need you out there!)