Feeling like a Failure

I had a moment today – a moment where I felt the intensity of what it means to raise children, a moment where the weight of that fact sat so heavily on me that I couldn’t stand. I sat on my bed feeling burdened and confused, and I did what I should have been doing since the first moment I became a mom: I prayed.

Here’s what you need to know about my family. My children are all bright and well-behaved. It might sound like a mom’s bias or bragging, but I’m really trying to be honest. Parent/teacher conferences are never something we dread, and the teachers always tease us about coming because they never have anything negative to say. When my children do misbehave (because they are human after all) they feel so badly about it that I rarely have to do much more than discuss their behavior and what they should do differently next time. I’m truly blessed, but because of this, I can start relying on my own strength as a mom. ‘Look at my kids! I’m a fantastic mother. I don’t need any help.’ But it’s not true.

I try my best, but I often fail. I make mistakes and my kids have gotten to the age where they’ll call me out on it (which I hate). But today something happened – it wasn’t huge, but it made me realize what my children could become as adults if I don’t direct them appropriately. It was attitude and actions that if carried into adulthood could and most likely will cause problems in relationships, at jobs, and in their spiritual walk. And the worst of all, was taking a step back and seeing that this was picked up from watching me.

I sat on my bed, and I prayed for wisdom and guidance because I had nothing. Eventually I felt able to deal with the problem, and I did. I think what my kids responded to more than anything was seeing my pain and heartbreak.

The truth is that although my children received a punishment, I think I did, too. I’m too careless with my words and actions. I don’t always consider what my children are learning from me. I can’t help but think that I have encouraged them to give the outward appearance of good while fostering bad thoughts and attitudes. And why not? Mom does it.

When we brought our first baby home from the hospital, Joel and I sat staring at her while she lay sleeping in her bassinet. Both of us where thinking the same thing: What were they thinking letting us bring this child home? We know nothing! Joel finally said something that we have repeated often to each other and to other parents. He said, “We are going to mess up. We just need to pray that God doesn’t let us screw them up too badly.” And it’s true. We mess up – often. But today I saw the future consequences of my mistakes. It hit me hard. I had felt a certain amount in pride in myself as a mother, and boy was I humbled quickly and thoroughly.

Yes, I need to discipline my children, but I need to remember that I’m a work in progress myself. Part of raising my children to be God-fearing adults is to show them that I’m not perfect either, but I’m allowing God to mold and shape me just as I try to do for them.

So although I felt like a failure as a mom when I was pummeled by the truth of the situation, the reality is that this is a failure that I can turn into a victory. I have to allow God to work though, and humble myself to learn from His instruction.

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