You’ve heard it.
I’ve said it.
You’ve probably said it yourself, if you’re a mom.
“Mom of the year, right here.”
It’s never said with pride or with seriousness. It’s never said with the intent to brag about some success or parenting win. And if it IS said that way, it’s because we’ve acquired THE toy of the season, or our child’s dream, or we’ve made the meal they LOVE, or we’ve planned the birthday party that will blow their mind and your pocketbook, but probably won’t be remembered by the birthday child.
We’re not saying it to focus on the positive. We’re not saying it to remind ourselves that parenthood is a hard climb, one not for the faint of heart, and yet we’re doing okay. We’re definitely not saying it to actually win an award. Because it is said sardonically, to underline, underscore, draw attention to our perceived failures.
“Forgot the bake sale at school today. Mom of the year!”
“Spilled water all over the 34786th drawing Sophie gave me this morning. #momfail”
“Mom of the Year moment: Cut the baby’s nails too short. Who knew they bled that much?”
“Yelled about the 5th accident today. Feel like a jerk. Serious mom fail.”
“Had a great day with my kids…then bunged up bedtime. I SUCK.”
I think we do this for a couple of reasons.
There’s definitely a social market for failure stories. People love them. They get a lot of likes on Facebook. They get people laughing. And they really demonstrate that some days are hard to believe: This is REALLY my life?! REALLY?!
And if we make light of the failures, no matter how small or inconsequential, then maybe no one else will call us out on how we’re clearly not succeeding. How we’re big failures. How maybe we’re the absolute wrong person for this job. How this is all just a big mistake.
I am pro being real. I am all for talking about how hard the parenting gig is, how frustrating it can be, how much we can hate it (yes, HATE it, like this article so eloquently explains), and how some days you wonder just what you’ve done to your life.
But, should we keep being mean to ourselves? Should we put ourselves down every time we make a mistake, let something slide, drop a ball? Should we point out our rather small, not so memorable failures, just so no one else will notice them or realize that we are impostors? Mothers who shouldn’t be. Parents who really have no clue what they’re doing?
Finding humor in our seemingly insane, unreal, nonsensical days makes sense. It’s the old adage – if we’re not laughing, we’d be crying. But, when the #momfail stops being funny and starts being what we actually believe, what we tell ourselves, the inner track that berates us for forgetting one thing on our list of dozens of things we actually remembered, that’s where it gets tricky.
My sister-in-law posted on Facebook that her son, my shy, not-so-adventurous nephew, had a banner day for trying new things…and then she included she forgot her camera, so she failed. #momoftheyear failed. Even though, considering all of the hurdles my nephew has had to overcome, the fact that she’s a single mom right now since my brother-in-law is away for business, the fact that she’s a rock star mom to a sweet, awesome kid…she found the failure, the moment where she wish it could have been different, even though THAT moment really made no difference. But, it’s what she is dwelling on. What she is remembering.
I think that hashtagging moments where we didn’t quite make the play, didn’t quite make the ball connect with the bat, didn’t quite do the job we wanted to do, is fine. #momoftheyear and #momfail moments are going to happen. Period. But let’s not let them take over. Let’s not let them be the only things we remember.
Forgot the bake sale? That’s okay. There will be another. And your kid probably didn’t even really notice. He was too busy sharing his friends’ treats.
Dropped a toy on the baby’s head and made her scream? Is she all right? Then, that’s okay. It happens. It won’t be the last time. Does she need medical attention? Did you get it for her? Then, good job. You are surviving the hospital system with your baby. That’s tough stuff and you’re doing it. Rock star.
Feel guilty about missing a dance class? Not sending your kid to school with the right colour shirt? Not doing the laundry so that their favourite dress would be clean for that particular Thursday that looks like every other Thursday? Fine. Feel guilty. For a minute. Then let it go. They have. They won’t remember unless you miss all the dance classes, never show up, never try, don’t love them, and let them go to school naked.
You’re human. A human parent to a crazy tiny human. Or lots of crazy tiny humans. And that is tough. You’re doing okay. Don’t live in the fail. Move on to the success, the happy, the joy, because as a kid, that’s where they live every day. And all they want is for you to live with them there. Promise.