How long would it take me to reach 99 failures as a mom? Two weeks? One week? A day?
Sometimes, the reality that I’ve been entrusted with two young lives seems like a wild idea.
We all got sunburn today. All my life, people have chirped in my ear about sunburn, sunscreen, and skin cancer. My mom used to make me wear SPF 15 on my face every day, because I was ‘fair.’ You’d think I would have gotten the idea.
I suppose it would be rare to go through life never having had a sunburn. But when my babies’ beautiful, plump, flawless, pristine skin gets scorched – at the hands of my own neglect, no less – it really, really bugs me.
My line of reasoning went something like this:
“I’ve forgotten the sunscreen. I should go back and get it. But no, I don’t want to. We don’t have time, and I’m sure we’ll be fine. We’ll be submerged in water. It will all wash off anyway and contaminate the pool water. We’ll take breaks in the shade.
Besides, look how nice other people’s kids look with their brown skin. I’ve heard sunscreen is bad for you. We should build up our skin’s natural resistance and get a nice, gradual tan.”
Somewhere along the way, I forgot that my skin is about as pasty, white, and prone to sunburn as it will come. And my kids aren’t much different.
Failing, I suppose, is normal. And yet, it always seems to catch me off-guard.
Recently I witnessed a friend of mine in the midst of one of her self-described ‘mom fails.’ A group of us moms were getting together at my house. Half an hour after everyone else had arrived, she was nowhere to be seen. Because she was in her car. In my driveway.
Fighting with her kids.
Trying to convince them to come inside, when they wanted absolutely nothing to do with the whole thing.
She gave up, took them home to their dad, and showed up at my house almost an hour late. Her eyes looked wet, and her eyelids were a little puffy, like she’d been crying.
“I can handle 28 girls,” she said (she manages a hair salon), “but I can’t handle 2 boys?”
Although I understood her sentiment (having felt similarly obtuse, on several occasions, with my boys), I could not see what she was seeing.
Because when I look at her, I see a woman who is nearly perfect. Who handles whatever life throws at her, with grace. Who cares about others more than I thought was humanly possible. Who never misses a great teachable moment with her children. Who oozes peace, strength, humility, and servanthood.
What if, instead of only counting failures, we also took some notice of the things we are doing right?
So yes, we got sunburn. But I had raced around the grocery store that morning and done the shopping in record time, so we would have time for fun in the afternoon. I had beamed with pride as my 8 year-old swam all the way across the pool during his swimming lesson, without touching bottom. I had held my 2 year-old up on the public toilet seat so he could go, wiped his little bottom, and then washed his brown-streaked shorts in the sink with my bare hands. I had overcome my body insecurities to don a swimsuit in front of God and man, stayed within an arm’s reach of my toddler at all times, and kept a watchful eye on his brother (praying for safety) as he flailed around with his friends. The two of them went to bed tonight content, and worn out from play and learning and stimulation and fun, with full tummies and clean clothes on their backs.
I don’t think we should ignore failures. I think that we should take note, learn, and do differently next time. Personally, I pray a lot: for mercy; for grace.
But, for every one failure, there may be 99 ways that you have gotten it right. (Or, at least, had your heart in the right place.) I would be willing to bet.
What’s your latest mom fail? I’d love to hear about it. 😁