Confession: 17 years of ‘mothering fails’

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I have a seventeen year old daughter, she’s in her final year of high school. Next year my Miss 17 is off to see the world on a gap  year. My baby girl is a woman. Every day I’m amazed that she’s all grown up, it blows me away.

Before she was born I read every book available on having children. I wanted to parent 100% spot on. No parenting fails for me. It didn’t quite work out like the perfect plan in my head, which on reflection  is probably a very good thing. Which parenting style would I follow? I believe my style is called the winging it day by day parenting style.

Instead of beating my self up with guilt and self loathing I began to look at the bigger picture. Well, in saying that it’s only really now that I can step back and see the bigger picture. My daughter is 17 and she’s ok. She’s more than ok, she rocks my world.

So called labelled parenting fails/mothering fails, which we usually label ourselves just form part of the bigger picture. Parenting and motherhood is a continuous lesson of learning with your child. It changes as they grow. It changes as we grow. It’s totally unique to you and your child. No amount of preparation can make it smooth sailing. There are no guarantees when you have children or warranties or return policies.

In my head the following would play over and over again as failing my role as a mother.

  • My  adamant wishes for ‘natural birth’ went out the window after being in labour for 35 hours I was screaming for an epidural and all the drugs in the world. 
  • My sole wish of breast-feeding exclusively hit a low on day 10, when the doctor said “Your daughter is losing weight, we need her back in hospital”. If all mums can breast feed why can’t I? With help I managed to continue breast-feeding with top up bottle feeds.
  • At 3 months I went out for dinner with hubby. My baby asleep in her travel seat was next to me on the floor. We paid the bill and left the restaurant. We left baby at the restaurant too. We ran like  Olympic sprinters back to the restaurant. What mother forgets her baby? This mum did.
  • A&E became our best friends. Little Miss was a lets shove anything I find up my nose and watch me run so fast that at the speed I’m running I don’t see walls, steps or parked cars.
  • Feeding my Miss was painful and fraught. Miss Fussy Eater lived on a bland diet of cereal, pasta and toast. Let’s keep adding to my mummy fail list as I can’t get my daughter to eat.
  • Talking about feeding, she did manage to eat half a daddy-long-legs. I managed to pull half out of her mouth. So I consider that a small win.
  • At crèche I was the mum who was called regularly “Mrs Brown, she’s taken off all her clothes and running around naked”. My Miss didn’t like clothes.
  • Sleep was one of those areas where I really didn’t get much. By the age of 3, my daughter had a morning breakfast tray prepped, she could eat breakfast then watch children television until mum was up.
  • At 8 years old I moved my daughter across the world, her little face on saying goodbye to her friends can still pull at my heart.
  • Baths and showers have been skipped many a time and the occasional ‘forgetting to brush teeth and hair’.
  • I have used bribery and distraction in certain situations.
  • We have  baked together, we baked and had fun, the resulting baked goods may have been non edible.
  • Potty training on holiday in Spain seemed like a good idea, until she took herself off on the beach and proceeded to do number two’s by an amorous couple.
  • I may have assisted ( a lot) in the create a board game depicting Christopher Columbus sailing around the world.
  • The hems on her uniform are not delicately hand sewn, the glue gun is my friend.
  • I work full-time, study and research.
  • Dinner can be toasted sandwiches, cereal, fruit, takeaway, left overs or totally made up.
  • She has eaten mud, sand and sucked a texta.
  • She played with Barbie, toolkits and chemistry sets.
  • Head-lice loves her hair
  • At aged 4 her favourite show was Fear Factor. We had a new friend visit. My daughter greeted her with “What’s a testicle?”
  • I’m not a fab cook, housekeeper, seamstress or craft maker.
  • Many a time she has seen me break down in tears especially when my mum was alive and living with us.
  • Many a time I’ve said sorry I’ve snapped, today was not a great day.

 

The Bigger Picture of Mothering Fails

Every day I’m sure I do something that falls into the category of Mothering fails, yet my daughter is ok. She lives in a very real world with a very real mum. A mum that tries her best and stuffs up along the way. I’m big on family values. I have a long do not sweat it list and we talk, laugh and even cry together . My daughter is resilient, has a strong sense of justice and a big heart. My daughter is a woman. Mothering fails can kiss my butt, she’s doing just fine.

 

rb

What words of wisdom or so called fails can you share?

 

 

 

 

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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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Comments

  1. You’re a lightweight when it comes to parenting mistakes, Nathalie. We’ve all been on the mother guilt journey and like you sometimes I’m amazed at how my daughter managed to defy the odds. Beautiful photo too x

  2. I could not love this more beautiful Nathalie. I hope I feel the same way in 13 years time when my big little man is 17. I think real is the best thing you can be. I think it’s important to show our children the ups and downs because we are equipping them for their own adulthood after all.

  3. Sometimes my kids wear the same socks as the day before. Actually I’m pretty sure my son wears the same pair more than 2 days in a row most weeks.
    When they were younger, custard was a favourite dinner. Some days it still is. Or two minute noodles.
    We don’t always get to the dentist every 6 months… sometimes not even every year. But neither kids have cavities.
    My biggest thing as a parent is being honest with my kids. If they ask a question they get an honest answer. That includes anything about sex, death… whatever. If they ask, the are ready for the answer.
    Apart from that, there are plenty of mistakes and the occasional swear word thrown in their direction. But that’s just life… none of us are perfect,

    • Mr 8 has been sprayed with Lynx as I forget to wash uniforms. Talking about everything and anything is so important. Seeing real life is crucial to being well rounded xx

  4. Thank you for this. I have more days where I feel like I’m failing then winning. But when I have a winning day it reminds me that I’m must be doing something ok. My children own the behaviour, are resilient, independent, compassionate and caring. Really I couldn’t wish for anything more. I know that they will do a better job at this parenting gig then I if they should choose to have children one day. I know that I’m doubt a better job then the one I was shown.
    When I’m beating myself up too much one of my soul sisters always reminds me of all my wins
    It’s hard to believe that my daughter is 18 in few short months. Where did that go? And why don’t I feel older then I do? Xx

    • It’s about the bigger picture all the time. Seeing how they act around others always makes me :) My parenting is my own style it’s very different to how I was parented. It seems to work most days. Big hugs lovely x

  5. My kids know how to get their own breakfast and help younger ones because I am totally rubbish in the morning.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  6. Nathalie – how beautiful – isn’t it incredible to see a child grow into a young adult. Keep up the “parenting-so-called-fails”, it seems to be working :-) xx

  7. Kellie says:

    Dessert before dinner nights, which inevitably become dessert for dinner, always a fave.

  8. Nae adventuresathomewithmum says:

    This puts a smile on my face, I’ve only got 4 years up my parenting sleeve & I too was the one who read researched and studied parenting how to success stories and advice, I thought my kids would be perfect and not have tantrums in public and I would not loose my cool with them. Ohhhh boy have I grown lol.
    I think it’s important to remember that we all make mistakes, big and small, we learn and we need to forgive ourselves. Great post :-)
    What a beautiful picture

  9. Oh I think I really needed this today! Thank you – wonderful blog post.

  10. Ooooh I love you!!
    Ok…. there may have been one time (ok, twice) where I have neglected to both wash AND dry the washing. Hence, undies are scarce. So uh, yeah, the second day wear is required. She has no idea. I just “produce” them out of thin air (her washing basket).

    Not sure if I feel better or not for sharing that.

  11. It is great to hear your ‘mothering fails’ Nathalie. It gives me some comfort that although I have made mistakes, and will make many more….it will all be ok.

    I noticed our 2 year olds shoes were quite tight the other day and beat myself up I hadn’t noticed sooner. My husband reassured me that these kids have a habit of growing…and quickly. He now has several new pairs, but it felt like a fail. There is also the odd two-minute noodles for dinner (mainly cause I don’t feel like fighting him to eat the family meal for the fifth time that week – I only have so much strength), and too much kids TV at times.

    So thank you for writing this piece and making it okay.

    Michelle x

  12. Love that photo – you’re both gorgeous!

    I love that you shared this post, Nathalie. I needed to read this. It’s all about bigger picture – except some days that’s hard to remember. xx

  13. Oh Nathalie, I have quite a few of those on my fail list too. Oh well, eating a spider gives them extra nutrition and so does sucking textas… kind of. 😛

  14. My daugther turned 3 yesterday and I feel like I have a list as long as yours(if not longer). I am sure you summerised and if you didn’t I am going to continue to believe you did so as I add more I can try keep the Mum guilt down. Your post has inspired me to reduce the Mum guilt as much as possible so thank you!

  15. SaraLou says:

    The picture of you and your Miss at the end of your post says it all? It’s a beaut! Mothering fail? – I don’t think so!!

  16. If that’s the worst you’ve got in 17 years… you are a parenting god to me! lol. The threads of real life. That really was a lovely read and I would enjoy to similarly document these times that make up our lives and who we are. I can only imagine the wonderful woman your daughter must be. x

  17. I am at this exact same stage and like you there has been lots of reflection back through the years lately and a little wonder at how the years went by so quickly. I loved reading through your list….so many i identify with and have done or felt myself…but why didn’t i think of the glue gun, i really, really do detest hemming now!
    Thanks for reminding me that all that mummy guilt actually means squat when we look at the wonderful girls we are both about to send out into the world soon x

  18. I just loved this post so much. It made me smile- especially the photo at the end.

    I worry every day that I’m doing the wrong thing by my daughter, but I always explain my feelings to her and encourage her to do the same. Hopefully the talking helps.

  19. Thank you so much for a wonderful post… I think as mothers we are too harsh on ourselves and others. I have only four years of parenting up my sleeve, but with two kids under school age, #3 on the way, and four work-at-home jobs to juggle, I have thrown all the books aside and firmly believe in the ‘wing it’ theory :) My kids are rarely in bed before 8pm (total disarray in the evenings over here!), pants seem to be optional around the house (which aids their classy ‘wee wees on the grass, mummy’ – and I have both a boy and a girl!), and little-miss-2 decided to lick everything in sight at the shopping centre last week – including the trolley, clothes/grocery racks, and eventually the floor (mid-tantrum). I figured it was supporting her immune system…

    I doubt myself and my parenting every single day, but when I’m in a good frame of mind I like to think that we are creating the ‘real’ in our kids – you don’t want them to think the world is too perfect :) You sound like you have raised an amazing young lady, I only hope that my tribe of monkeys grow up to be half as fabulous.

    • (and on the note of the optional clothing – bear in mind that I have piano students and their parents at my house four afternoons a week… luckily they are so understanding of my children’s unusual habits!)

  20. Beautiful post, and I was chuckling at many of the moments you have experienced together over the years (particularly the potty training one!). I’ve learnt that parenting is a journey, we learn along the way, but so far it is the best journey ever!

  21. Too many to list! You shared so many that ring true. Always a good reminder no matter what age your little ones are, huh?

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