A Letter To Myself For Those Days When I Feel Like I’m Failing As A Mom

Dear Mama,

So, today is going like absolute crap. It’s one of those days where the problems are coming faster than you can solve them. Everything is piling up. The toddler woke up crying and has been an absolute disaster all morning. The dog refused to let you wipe his muddy paws before bounding into the living room and jumping on the couch. Another mess for another moment, because suddenly there was milk spilling from a cup on the table and cascading across the kitchen floor.


Oh yeah and you haven’t had a shower in longer than you care to admit. You dribbled toothpaste on your shirt, then spilled coffee on it before discovering it was the only clean thing in the drawer that doesn’t look awful on you. You had no time to deal though, because you had to get to the grocery shop before the whole day was shot.

After you spent 45 minutes pushing a tantruming toddler around in a grocery store cart, you reached the checkout line and discovered you couldn’t pay for any of it. Freaking. Awesome. Apparently, you left the house without your wallet. So much for getting your sh*t together.

All day you’ve been putting out fires and yet they continue to flare. When you finally got home and sucked up all the tears you didn’t want to shed in front of the kid, you burned lunch — and your hand — and yelled at no one in particular, but loud enough that it startled your toddler. You decided then and there that you are officially the worst mother in history.

And when you couldn’t make a nap happen and you realized that last night’s wet laundry was still sitting, mildewing, in the washing machine, you were done. This is why you are now sitting on the bathroom floor heaving with the tears over what an absolute failure you are as a mom. What are you doing here? Who trusted you in this role anyway? You clearly aren’t cut out for it.

But I’m here to tell you that that isn’t true. That’s right. Me. You. The truth is you’re not a bad mom at all. You’re just having a really bad day. Here’s the thing: You had bad days long before you were ever a mom. Remember when you failed that Calculus test in high school and got dumped by your boyfriend later the same day? Yeah. That completely sucked. You’ve messed up royally at work, and had ridiculous bouts of miscommunication with most of the important people in your life. Lots of bad days. For years.

But you were capable of looking at those bad days and even weeks as just what they were — rough patches. You definitely cried, questioned your actions and mistakes, but you’ve never been as ashamed of yourself, as dissatisfied with yourself, as you are on days like today, as a mom.

Do you want to know why that is? That’s because you’re a good mom. That’s because you have crossed over from being just a person to being the person at the center of a tiny person’s life. That’s because that little girl in the other room (she’s fine watching Sesame Street on her own for a few minutes by the way, promise) loves you more than anything. And you. Love. Her. You love her with a fierceness you never knew existed, and it makes you question yourself sometimes because you know she deserves the best.

But she has the best already. You don’t need to worry. She is learning from you, and believe me, the mom who makes her pancakes and does her pigtails, the one who reads her stories and ties her shoes, that’s the mom she’s paying most attention to.

She doesn’t even know that you forgot your wallet today; she was far too busy screaming her head off because she’s 2. She won’t remember that you hid from her in a puddle of tears this afternoon because tomorrow morning, you’ll be pouring juice and smiling and that is her normal. That is her constant.

This is just a bad day inside of a good life. It’s a blip and you know what? Everyone has them. Every single mom around. Ignore Instagram and Facebook because those moms aren’t perfect either; they’re just posting the good stuff because they don’t want you to see the ugly stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So get off the floor and wash your face. Pour yourself a cup of coffee — or a glass of wine, I’m not judging! — and take a deep breath. Make a plan for this weekend. Go out for an hour when you have a minute to yourself. Listen to rap music in the car, get a manicure, or sit on a park bench and read a novel. It doesn’t matter, just take a break. Refuel. And in the meantime, give yourself some grace.

Just like you can forgive your husband his mistakes and the entire day of drama from the child disappears as soon as she toddles over and plants a peanut buttery kiss on you. Forgive. Yourself. You are human, too, just like the rest of the crazies in this household. And not every day is going to be good. But that does not mean anything about you. You are very good. You just had a bad day.

Love, Me. You.

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