The Day I Failed as a Mother

The Day I Failed As A Mother


I had an enough. I was tired and those ever-present vapors of frustration radiated from my skin… I launched the attack.

“You better get your act together!… Don’t you dare disrespect me or your father! … You need to be more responsible! …You need to stop whining!… Why can’t you… You really messed up!”

And the swords cut, and the battle was one sided, with a fierce blow to my child’s spirit.

He sat silent in the back seat, while I threw out a few more blasts of bullets that pelted his heart and crushed his character.

Pulling up to the school, I realized I had the ruins of a war torn boy before me as I turned back to face him…

Eyes down. Sunken body. Waiting to get out of this God forsaken air he was forced to breathe in.

Those weapons of anger had torn his innocent spirit right out of him.

I grappled with a few fleeting last attempts at salvaging my despicable disdain, with “I love you” and “I know you can do better”… as they just echoed of emptiness. I knew I could do nothing to fill the air back with anything worthy of goodness.

I watched him hurry to escape the car and walk into school…

I stared at his little body and gasped at the sickness that boiled in my gut. I begged for this to all be erased from his memory as he started his day. I knew it could not.

I failed as a mother.

How dare I viciously point out all my kid’s flaws and mistakes and disappointments at the beginning of his day? Who the hell am I to set that sick tone of admonishment of all of his faults? I wonder how I would feel, if the one person I trusted and loved like no other, attacked all my weak parts as I set off to start my day.

How dare I.

We had a rough few days. The kid had seriously messed up on various occasions. He can do better. He HAS failed in many ways.

That car ride was NOT the time to pour the poison all over him.

I know better.

Our rides to school are usually full of encouragement and prayer, as I know full well that when you start your day with both- it’s bound to produce good things. I am proud of our daily tradition, which has been going on for years. My kids soak in all my encouragement and praise and prayers for them during those final minutes before we separate: Them to their world and me to mine. This is the most gratifying part of my day…

Every day.

What happened today?

I am flawed. I am so very, very flawed.

An hour later, I decided to drive back to the school. I couldn’t shake the horrifying idea that my son would have that heavy weight of judgment holding him down throughout the day. They buzzed me in, and questioned why I needed to go interrupt the class. I confessed, we had had a bad morning. (I can’t lie for the life of me) The office allowed it, and I walked to the classroom door and saw my precious boy sitting studiously with pencil in hand and focused on his teacher teaching.

I caught his eye and waved and smiled. He smiled with that ‘What are you doing here?’ expression and I motioned for him to come out to the hallway. Of course the class was disrupted and all eyes looked out the window to me, as the teacher then opened the door and so graciously honored my request.

My son walked out of the classroom, with the look of embarrassment as he questioned me and seemed to be restless in the moment. I reached for him, pulled him close to me, and he wiggled away, looking around to see if anyone saw my embrace. Clearly, this wasn’t the time or the place to be reconciling the morning commute, but I fought it and made my point of redemption as best I could.

He was uncomfortable and anxious to return to class, and I hated myself for adding even more stress to his already broken day. I could only hope that those few encouraging words I was able to get out, somehow soothed this morning’s scalding temper. He turned in a hurry to get back to class, and I walked away more empty than before.

Perhaps I went back to selfishly find resolution for myself. Maybe I decided it was worth the risk of embarrassing my son to show him my love. I desperately wanted to un-break him, but my attempt was futile.

Today I question my choices and sit soaked in my mess. I wonder if he is moving on with his day with a new empowered breath, or was I just a reminder of what took his breath away.

I don’t know.

I just know that if I didn’t go back and try, I couldn’t live without at least attempting to somehow lift my boy back up from the ground I knocked him down on.

Today I failed as a mother.

I’ll be damn sure that tomorrow’s drop off goes better.

I share this experience with the hope that mothers everywhere can understand that no mother is perfect, and all mothers make mistakes. You are not alone. This commute happened months ago, and my son is okay. I thank God kids are so forgiving and resilient, yes?

We must have grace in parenting.

I’m also happy to report, that there has not been a commute like this again…

So far.

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  1. says

    Been there, done that…almost identically. I think it is very important to remember that there is a big difference between “I failed as a Mother” and “I failed in this situation”. To fail is human. To learn from it is what defines us. You are a wonderful Mother because you can recognize your mistakes, and strive to not repeat them. <3

  2. says

    Oh sweet friend, we have all been there. Just the other night I screamed (so loud the next town might have heard) that I was tired of EFFING homework and why the HELL can’t she just remember what she is supposed to do or read the EFFING question herself without me standing over her.

    Forgetting in my moment of rage that she forgets because she has a processing issue and that when she is frustrated that issue becomes more pronounced. That it wasn’t her fault any more than it was mine that homework sucks rotten eggs.

    Afterwards I went up to her hugged her tight and apologized. Showing her that I knew I messed up and was willing to take half the blame (I still think the teacher should take the other half)

    Here’s the thing, we have ALL been there. Doesn’t make it right or justified but it does mean that we understand where you were in THAT moment where you lost your mom of the year award and were just a mom at the end of her rope.

    Christina above is right, you failed in that moment but not in motherhood.

    And I am sorry to admit I am cracking up a little at the thought of your son being pulled out of class for a hug. I think he will forgive you for the car ride long before he forgives you for “embarrassing” him.

    But guess what? When he has his children and he loses his cool he’s going to remember that hug…not the car ride.

    So in the end, you did well and that is what really matters.

    • says

      Do you know that as I was working on this to publish it (after three months had passed since it happened) I asked him about that fateful morning to see if he remembered my meltdown, and he immediately was all “Yeah mom, you came to school and totally embarrassed me!!”

      Hee hee…

      I love your encouragement my friend. I’m SO grateful for your kind words and you sharing your own meltdowns to make me feel better. 🙂 Your beautiful comment was such a comfort to me. <3

  3. says

    Oh poor Christine. I have been there – I swear. I remember one morning having a similar exchange – and continuing my rant as my daughter ran down the drive way to catch the bus that was waiting for her. One of the lowest points of my life! But I didn’t get off my high horse as quickly as you did. I LOVE that you drove to the school. I’m sure your son didn’t, but I did. You write about faith and parenting so eloquently and openly – please, forgive yourself. I’m sure your son already has.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your precious encouragement, Allie!! I’m so grateful for you sharing your own experience and loving words, both which comfort me greatly. <3

    • says

      As of now, he does remember it and still says he was embarrassed!! LOL But I’m glad I did go back, despite the humiliation. If anything, it will always remind him that I loved him so much, I just had to redeem the painful morning and take responsibility for my behavior. That’s what you do when you make mistakes.

  4. says

    You aren’t alone at all and yes I have most definitely been there. Mornings, in general, here are just hard and I have felt awful afterwards when I have snapped as weave been late for the bus or what have you. I love though that you went to the school to make amends. You are amazing my friend and major hugs to you just for being you and able to admit that you are just humans make mistakes, too. Love you, Chris!

    • says

      Thanks so much my sweet friend, for your gracious encouragement. It’s just such a relief to know that other moms have been ‘here’ too. <3

  5. says

    ***I am flawed. I am so very, very flawed.**’

    Honest, beautiful piece, my dear Chris.

    We can ALL identify w/ your words, darling.

    —after all these years, I still feel some guilt for not being a perfect mother.

    Love from MN. xxx

  6. says

    I’m crying. This really got me because sometimes I feel like I have done damage beyond repair to my son with my cruel, harsh tone and words. I try my hardest to not be a monster, but sometimes I mess up and I verbally beat-up his little spirit. Recently, I was extremely hard on him one night before bed. (It tells you how dumb it was, that I don’t even remember what he had done that made me so irrate.) The next day, I couldn’t stand the thought of what I had done, and so while he was at school, I wrote him a two-page letter, apologizing for my behavior and giving him a list of reasons why I think he’s the best son in the world. It was my small way of trying to repair the damage. When he arrived home and saw the letter on his desk, he was so touched and thanked me for taking the time to write such a lengthy letter. Chris, you are not a failure. You’re human. We all are. And we’re all doing the best we can. I’m always amazed at our children’s unconditional love for us. No matter how nasty, mean, or cruel we get, they still love us, no matter what. That says something….We have to remember to look at the sum of our actions and not just put all of our focus on those single incidents of mistakes. Big hugs!!

    • says

      Oh Jackie!!!! I’m SO glad you told me about this comment!! Oh, how your words are such a comfort to me!! Thank you thank you thank you… for sharing your own struggles and encouraging me in mine. Oh, how deeply touched and blessed I feel having read your precious words. *Tears*

  7. says

    There is great beauty in your failure. There almost always is. In your humility and your desire to to better. And there it is – the golden truth tucked inside the gunk of life – you’re not a failure because you didn’t quit.

    • says

      “the golden truth tucked inside the gunk of life –” Oh Joy… how I just love your insight and wisdom. You are such an encouragement to me!! <3 Thank you, my friend.

  8. says

    This absolutely took my breath away, Christine. Tears. Oh how you describe my own thoughts on a few occasions when I went down the same path and didn’t exercise better self-control. Thank God He redeems us, even each moment, when we ask Him. Tomorrow is new. Healing is possible in Christ. I love how bluntly and honestly you write here. You do all of us blew-it-mamas (which is all of us) a huge favor by sharing something so intimate. Thank you! This line had me: “those ever-present vapors of frustration radiated from my skin.” I have screwed this up many a time. God bless you for showing us the hope and the turnaround, which takes time. Sharing this!

  9. says

    Oh, Chris!!! You haven’t failed!! I’m typing this with tears dripping out of my eyes because I know exactly how you feel and how horrible it is to have those feelings. But YOU ARE AN AMAZING MOM!!!!
    One day when Hunter was in kindergarten we had one of those horrible mornings. After he got on the bus I emailed his teacher and told her it had been a rough morning and asked her to give him a big hug when he got to class. She said she would and for me to consider myself hugged from her, too.
    So, now you need to consider yourself hugged!!!!

  10. says

    Oh my gosh. Morning drop offs can be the worst. Especially if neither you or your child is a morning person and is a grouchy bear. I so feel you on this one. I have had so many morning drives to school where I am ripping one of my kids up and down and it just makes me feel like an awful human being. After they’ve walked into the school I always sit and think to myself,” Well there you go, Amy. You’ve ruined their morning and yours. Why can’t you just stop?” After mornings like that, I always take a few minutes to send up a prayer and ask God to help my child have a good day in spite of the fact that I was an angry momster. To help me to control my mouth, and most of all for both my child and I to put our differences between us aside so that when the day is over things can be right between us again.

  11. says

    WOW! I got goosebumps reading this. So brave of you to expose all the raw parts of motherhood. I have been struggling with this same thing. Although my kids are still so young they bounce right back but I had a week of exhaustion and just lashed out.. the guilt oh that guilt gets the best of you. I love that you went back in. I think that was a good choice because we all know that we don’t want anyone to think we actually enjoy being hugged and kissed by our parents, but deep down we really do. Thank you so much for sharing! We must have grace in parenting for sure!

    • says

      Thanks for your beautiful comment, Tasia! The guilt is SO hard!! I had written this the day it happened, months ago. It took me this long to finally ‘expose’ myself… and I’m glad I did. Because this is part of parenting. Our mistakes, our flaws, our raw and real moments that break us. I’m so SO grateful for grace. I need it. And I love how you get that some kids (ESPECIALLY boys) don’t want their peers to think they like mama’s hugs- but I know different. My boy THRIVES on my hugs… I just hated embarrassing him in public. But really? No one was in the hallway, so at least there’s that. lol

  12. says

    Oh Chris, I’ve been there many times – I’m sorry that you have too. But you didn’t fail as a mother – you just had a bad morning.

    One plus to having older kids who can have their phones with them at school…you can send an apology text, or an I love you just because text. No embarrassment!

  13. says

    Oh friend. I have done that exact same thing. Not too long ago I ripped into my son right before he left for school. He looked so defeated as he started his day and I knew I had just failed. He came home and later that day and I hugged him and we were back to normal. but still. This parenting gig is HARD.

    • says

      It is hard. Especially when our kids really GET TO US and we just LOSE IT!! Sigh… I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. Doesn’t make it right, but surely gives me comfort in knowing I’m not the only mom who has had a morning like this one.

    • says

      I love you, Dani. You are such a soft place to fall, and a tender hand to hold.

      I love your heart, so very much.

      Thank you for your comforting voice, always. <3

  14. says

    Oh how I feel for you! We all have those days. I think that you are a great Mum, for acknowledging your failing… On that one morning … And resolving to act differently or take a moment to breathe next time you’re flustered and aggravated. It’s not any easy job!

    • says

      Yes, I just wish I shut UP sooner. But I was on a roll… lol Sigh. I know better, and I will try harder. I intend to not let this happen again- or if I start to lose my temper, I will surely STOP much sooner next time. I know the consequences. That is my conviction.

  15. says

    We have too many rough mornings. When we oversleep it’s the worst because I have to rush Maggie, and she just doesn’t process fast, especially in the morning, and ends up in tears. I hate sending her off in such a bad place and end up feeling rotten about myself. I could identify with this post.

    • says

      I’m so glad you shared that, Sarah. It makes me feel like I am NOT the only one who goes through this. It’s awful, isn’t it? Sigh…

  16. says

    It only takes on commute like that to ensure they don’t happen again! Been there.
    I love that you went back into the school and that the office allowed it. I still remember my friend in 8th grade having a horrendous fight with her mom in the morning and she could NOT stop crying during the day. At lunch she said to the lunch monitor, “What if something happens to her and that was our last conversation??” So the lunch monitor had my friend call her mom right up and apologize. It was lovely.

    I have had days like this with Scarlet and I usually, no lie, bought her a gift out of guilt. Not a great thing to do, probably! Anyway she was four and had no memory of our fight earlier that day! Sigh. Kids.

    • says

      Oh that is too cute, Tamara! I could see you scurrying to the store to get her a gift. Totally something I would do! I have had those situations when my kids were little too- and they totally forget within hours. THANK GOD!!

  17. says

    Mornings are actually when I am at my worst and my kids have unfortunately started their days off on more occasions than I care to admit with me tearing them down. Kids are pretty darn resilient though thankfully 🙂

  18. says

    You failed in that special moment Chris. It happened. It happens to all of us. You did not fail as a mother. Cause what you did after this messy morning is wonderful. I am sure your son is reassured by the fact that you love him and you just had a bad start of the day. Sometime we lose control and we realize we are messing up without being able to stop talking. Thank you for sharing with us. I am sure it helped many mothers around, many who have rough mornings too. We are human. And it’s by accepting our flaws that we can make a difference.

    • says

      Thank you for your sweet encouragement Marie! “You did not fail as a mother.” HUGE clarity from those words to my heart. I did share this with courage, and hopes that the moms out there who have been through similar situations wouldn’t feel so alone. <3

  19. Tammy says

    Oh WPB this brings to mind too many of my mommy failures! You’re not alone. The saving grace? You DO pour love and encouraging words all over your kids when they need and deserve it! Your kids KNOW they are loved by and precious to you!

    Oh how many times I have prayed that “Please erase those words of mine from their precious little minds!” prayer! God is good, and He is perfect…we are not. Thankful for His grace, for second chances, and for the humility to ask forgiveness when we should.

    • says

      I absolutely LOVE that prayer… and have said it with hope that God wipes their minds of such awful moments!! Thanks for you love, WPB. And yes- His grace, second chances, and humility- you said that perfectly. <3

  20. says

    You are not alone! We all have those moments.
    I love that you went back and tried to make up for it in someway. You let him know that you were wrong, and you wanted to make it right.

    I find myself with days like that with my daughter more often than I’d like to admit. But kids are forgiving, and each day we can do a bit better.

    • says

      Oh it was such a horrible day! I made Cade snuggle with me for SO long when he got home from school! lol I’m so glad I’m not alone in these mistakes. And thankful kids are forgiving!!

  21. says

    We all make mistakes, and I’m glad that you actually went back to make it better. I immediately feel guilty when I lose my cool, and then I apologize. Don’t know if I’m sending confusing signals with this behaviour!

  22. says

    As much as I hate to read about anyone struggling, yours is a powerful reminder to moms that we’re not the only one struggling and having “those kind of days.” Love this so much!!!

    • says

      Yeah, that day sucked! But I really find comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who messes up. I honestly waited months to share this, and then realized there is encouragement in being real and exposing our failures.

  23. says

    This was so encouraging, honest and heartfelt. My son just turned two and I often feel like I fail as a mother… I question my decisions and how I deal with his tantrums and outbursts. We all make mistakes, we all do things we wish we could take back. Your son knows how much you love him and as he grows older, he will understand that we are all only humans, who often fail. The only thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and pray to do the best we can do each day. Thanks for this post!

    • says

      Oh Falynn, thank you so much for your beautiful comment! I really debated about sharing this, but I realized in my honest failures I could perhaps encourage other moms to know they are not alone in theirs. Your first sentence was confirmation in that! I know those toddler years are SO hard… hang in there mama, and surely know you are not alone! I’m so glad you came by… <3

  24. says

    Omgosh!! How familiar! Our fumbled attempts to make good after an outburst, the sweet child twisted in perplexity!! Your honest is so refreshing in an age of propping our kids up on pedastols, and perfect positive parenting (yeah right!). I lovvve this post and the comments show how many of us need more moms lije you truth telling!!!

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