I became a mother nearly seven years ago. From the very beginning, my journey has been clouded by unshakable feelings of failure. Far too often have I been disillusioned by the whispers in my mind telling me I’m not good enough.
After an induction at 41 weeks, followed by 18 hours of labor and two hours of pushing, I was unable to deliver my daughter and wound up with an emergency C-section instead. Your body wouldn’t go into labor on its own and then you couldn’t even give birth the right way.
As much as I wanted to breastfeed my daughter, it did not come naturally for either one of us. I gave in after two weeks of misery and began formula feeding. First, you couldn’t deliver her, and now you can’t even figure out how to feed your own child.
I suffered with severe postpartum depression for upwards of six months before I finally sought professional help. You have this perfect, healthy child and yet you act like your world is ending. Why can’t you just be happy like normal people?
I worked full-time outside of the home for the first four years of her life, all the while shouldering feelings of guilt for all the time I spent away. Why did you even bother having a child if you’re just going to let someone else raise her? You’re giving the best of your energy to your job while she gets what little you have left.
Once I became pregnant with our second daughter, I allowed my doctor to schedule a repeat C-section because I was too terrified to attempt a VBAC. Here you go again. This isn’t childbirth; it’s a surgical extraction.
I became a stay-at-home mom when my second daughter was seven months old. I had naively convinced myself that all of my mothering failures would disappear once my focus was at home full-time. My house would be spotless. Dinner would be ready and on the table by 6 pm every evening. My children and I would spend hours reading, playing games and making crafts. And of course, I would have plenty of energy left to spend time with my husband after the girls went to bed.
As I am sure you can imagine, the transition from work to home went nothing like I had envisioned in my mind. Suddenly, I had no more “excuses” and it only opened my eyes to even more of my own shortcomings and personal failures.
Fast forward two years, and I’m still struggling with the familiar feelings of failure.
Since staying home, I’ve let too many friendships fall by the wayside. I forget to respond to text messages or make plans that never seem to materialize because I’m just so tired and it’s too daunting to make the stars align for an outing. You’re a terrible friend. No wonder you feel so alone all the time.
My second daughter is extremely strong-willed and though I love her with all that I have, she drains me like I never knew possible. Between the tantrums, the social anxieties, the uber picky eating and now the straight up refusal to potty train, I find plenty of opportunities to question and blame myself.
And now, as I approach the third trimester of pregnancy with our third child, I find myself fearing the inevitable failures to come. At least this one is still safe inside, where you haven’t had a chance to mess him up yet.
I could go on. My house is rarely kept up to my standards. There are days when my kids have way too much screen time. My husband and I never, ever make time to go on dates (have I mentioned child #2 and her separation anxiety?)
Maybe you are struggling with your own feelings of failure. There is so much pressure on us as moms to do all the “right things” for our kids. We believe the lies and bear the brunt of the guilt when we don’t meet the expectations of the world (or ourselves, for that matter.)
I wish I had a magic bullet, some fail-proof solution to offer, but clearly I’m still a work in progress. What I do know is that beating ourselves up by focusing on the failures is a sure-fire way to suck the joy right out of motherhood.
Not one of us is a perfect parent and we all need grace along this journey. In the end, it won’t really matter how you gave birth, whether or not you breastfed, if you stayed home or went back to work. The truth is, if you love your kids and don’t give up, you are not a failure.
If you are still in it, if you are still trying, then you are NOT a failure.