Loving ourselves enough to find room for failure:
I watch her grip the chunky crayon, moving it strategically to form the letters of her name, the ones that I’ve outlined in dash letters with a black marker.
She takes the tiger stuffed animal that we got from the zoo during one of our summer trips, and makes him give me a kiss.
The baby takes a board book into the pink-and-white chevron patterned teepee. She goes there for privacy, falsely thinking I can’t see her, when she feels safely cocooned inside.
I watch my two girls play, and I find myself wondering how they’ll look back on this lazy weekend morning when they’re much older.
There is no trial run of motherhood. There are no practice days. This is all the real thing.
My daughters have just one year where they will be five and one years old. They have only one Saturday on this date and only one childhood, and I have only one chance.
Yet everything is practice when you’re a parent—everything is trial and—for me—seemingly error.
The first time that I held my newborn daughter was one of the only times that I’d ever held a baby. Everything was new to me, and everything still is.
I try to strike a balance between helicopter parent who gives my children no space and hands-off mom. Selfishly, I want to play with my kids.
I want to sit inside of a pink-and-white teepee and hold thick crayons, and drag them along rough construction paper. I don’t want to relive childhood, because I had a good one, but I do want to hang out with my kids.
I want them to remember reading with me and dancing and coloring and going to the zoo. I also want them to think that I’m not watching them, even when I’m peeking around the wall at nearly everything they do.
I want them to learn to fall down and get back up.
Yesterday my daughter had a spill on the carpet and she got up and I could tell it had hurt, but she didn’t act like it. I had a flash of a moment in my head where I silently heard myself whisper, “This is what makes her special—she falls and she always, always gets up, ready to get back in the game.”
I had a “mom-fail” the other day. I did something that I never do—I shared it on Facebook, with the hopes of reminding other parents that we all mess up and, more, that we’re all doing okay.
A friend commented that it’s how we deal with failure that is the sign of true success. I carried this thought with me all last week.
We will mess up—we will yell when we should have momentarily left the room, or we will be there to catch our child two seconds too late, or we will forget our kid has a teacher in-service, and we’ll stand at the edge of our stone driveway waiting for a bus that won’t be showing up (ahem, “mom-fail”)—but we will learn from this and we—and our children—will be better for our failures and mishaps, as much as for everything that we’ll do correctly.
We are good enough. In a world that tells us that we’re “too” this or “not enough” that, we are good enough and we deserve the freedom to fail.
I don’t want to circle around my kids, waiting to catch them, but I want to hover just enough that they know I’m there.
The biggest and best thing that we can do for our children is to love ourselves enough to find grace when we mess up; to show up, even when we don’t feel like we know what we’re doing.
Our kids don’t ask perfection from us. Instead, they ask for our presence—ready to fail, and ready to return to standing, with loving arms braced for another unavoidable fall.