We cross many paths throughout life. Some paved from the craftsmanship of our own two hands and others laid out on the ground before us. Motherhood, for me, is very much the latter.
As a seasoned mom of 4 and 5-year-old boys, motherhood isn’t new to me. Yet every day, I am faced with a new challenge. From advising my eldest on how to handle bullying behavior at school to teaching my youngest how to appropriately handle his big emotions, I am navigating the waters of parenting, unaware of the current and the size of the waves ahead.
Motherhood is very much a “learn as you go” kind of job. It’s difficult to plan for a future you cannot foresee and so I sat back and thought, without a prescribed manual, how do these other moms out there do it? How do they go through the darkest of tunnels, unaided, and come out on the other side?
It’s easy to get caught up in how busy life becomes sometimes, managing the lives of our little people, remembering to eat breakfast before 2 pm, running through your list of daily errands and trying to keep a smile on your face at the end of the day. It’s tough. Especially on those not-so-great days, when all you really want to do it hide under your blanket with a tub of ice cream.
You know those days. Not being able to please everyone around us, not fitting into the jeans we’ve been staring at in our closet, not spending enough time with our children because we’re cleaning the house and not cleaning enough because we’re too busy with our children, who are upset that we didn’t put enough salt in the pasta or cut the sandwiches into the wrong shape.
But one day a good friend told me something that really stuck. “It’s all relative,” she said. “You learn to take the good with the bad.”
That’s exactly what failure is. It’s not about passing a moment off as an excuse to beat yourself up. Failure is acknowledging the hard times and shifting your perspective. Accepting the good with the bad and learning along the way. Without failure, we cannot become better. We are unable to learn and to grow as mothers, as parents, as women.
We plan ahead, and we attempt to prepare for every possible change in circumstances, but there will always be those days when nothing will go to plan and everything is a mess. Those moments, where it seems we’re never enough, when failure feels all too close, are overwhelming.
But, there’s always perspective.
The other day, I organized my to-do list and was waiting for my little one to finish his swimming lesson when it happened. For some unknown reason, he began losing control of his temper in the pool. I tried to help the instructor and it just made things worse. He was far from happy and I could feel the glares of women around me because my son was holding up the swim class.
A tantrum I thought would be over in five minutes carried on out into the car park for another 45 minutes. I was running late for an appointment and I hadn’t tackled anything on my to-do list. Yet, here I was, in a face-off with a 4-year-old because his goggles wouldn’t sit right.
I sought perspective.
He is a little person. I am his world. His world is coming down on him and he cannot make sense of his feelings. He’s embarrassed, ashamed, angry and confused all at the same time. I’ve been there. I’ve felt overwhelming emotions to the point of bursting. I’ve felt a lack of control. But the difference is I could work through it. At that moment, he needed Mom. So, I held him tight and whispered in his ear, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. I will keep you safe. I love you.”
I felt the tension release from his little body and his arms wrapped themselves around my neck, face buried into my chest. I responded with love and without reservation. I changed my perspective from focusing on the inconvenience this meltdown was having on my day and took it as a learning opportunity for us both. I put the idea of failure out of my head and took the win for motherhood.
Because it’s hard—it’s emotionally, physically and mentally draining. It’s all give, give, give, without expecting anything in return. It’s also a selfless love that knows no boundaries. One which fiercely protects and devotes every thought and fiber of your being for the betterment of someone else.
To all the mamas out there who feel like today is just not going the way you had hoped, who feel like with every step you take, you’re making a wrong turn, you are more than enough. You are learning. You are growing. Embrace your failures because success can come by taking the small wins for motherhood. All it takes in a change of perspective.