10 Ways I Fail at Mothering

Everywhere I look I see moms who appear to be doing it all.  Or at least they are doing it all better than me.  This post is not an invitation for you to shower me with gratuitous compliments about my parenting skills (although if you want to click here).  I am just keeping it real.  I’m sure you can relate.
  1. I throw tantrums.  I know how important modeling good behavior is.  I am 37 years old and have had plenty of time to practice counting to ten, taking deep breaths and going to time out.  Still, it is three to one over here and sometimes I just lose it.  Last week my precious daughter and I had a verbal scuffle about the appropriateness of wearing white leggings and pink underwear as pants.  She didn’t see it my way and eventually those leggings met their maker as I cut them up on the way to the trash.  Oops.
  2. I don’t save their craft projects.  I will never forget the time I got that text from my sweet sister-in-law.  She had two kids in school and was lamenting how hard it was to store all of the beautiful arts and crafts “keepsakes” that her boys brought home.  She said, “where do you put all of the pictures and crafts that your kids bring home?”  Umm, in the TRASH.  Yes, that’s right, most of them get the obligatory glance, a kind word of affirmation, and then they are gone.  Each and every single day three backpacks come home and vomit glitter, pictures, worksheets, and other unrecognizable objects. I know that there are all kinds of precious ways that mothers organize and archive these. In the words of my beloved Sweet Brown, “ain’t nobody got time for that!!”  (The image below is ONE DAY’s worth people!)papers
  3. I have used church as childcare.  Then I didn’t even go to the service.  Sunday mornings as a mother of small children, free childcare beckons me from my lair. Yes, my faith is important to me;  we can talk about that later. Let’s just say there have been a few times when I could hardly breathe.  Times when I really needed the break. It has probably only been once or twice.  I arrived at church, smiled,  got the kids to each of their classes, and then mindlessly wandered towards the coffee shop. Cup of joe in hand, I stared off into space…for the whole hour. Then I went back and got my kids.  #theservicewasfantastic  #forgiveme  #Iwillneverdoitagain
  4. Right now I’m typing on my device while my 4-year-old repeatedly asks me a question that I’m not listening to. Do I need to elaborate?
  5. They do as I say, I do as I do. By the time I get the kids to bed I am done.  As in DONE.  All of the sweet and inspirational words I have shared all day have worn me to the bone. Finally I am ready for some “me-time.”  I eat yummy desserts, watch shows of questionable value, stay up way too late,  and procrastinate all my chores.  Occasionally one of the kids pops out of bed because they need something and I hastily act like I haven’t just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. They may have had chicken, veggies and quinoa for dinner; I’m secretly having nachos on the couch.
  6.  I am not committed to laundry.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had to rifle through the clean and dirty laundry bin looking for a specific item of clothing.  My kids often wear two different socks because I didn’t get around to matching them and they are in a rush to get out the door.  Sometimes I dress the kids straight out of the dryer…and once in a while I have to pull something from the dirty clothes bin. (It gets the sniff test and a firm shake before they wear it!)
  7.  I am a competitive mom.  I say all the right things about the importance of my kids’ character, about not caring if they win, and about the value of trying.  I believe all of that, I do, but I do want my kids to be great. I know it is not that important if they end up in the top reading group, or how many soccer goals they score.  I will still love them if they aren’t good at something, but I secretly hope they are. Don’t judge me, I’m working on it!!
  8.  Let’s talk about packing lunch.  Never, ever, in my whole “career” have I packed a pinterest-worthy lunch.  There are no cute shapes, fun characters, or enticing displays. I don’t use an assortment of little containers for their dining pleasure.  I open up their lunch bag in a last-minute rush, slap in a sandwich and a few accompaniments, and call it a day.  I am not criticizing people who do better, but I probably never will.
  9.  I call people names, especially when I am behind the wheel of our beloved mini-van “Jeff.”  I can be deeply immersed in a worship song when someone cuts me off or swerves into my lane. Immediately I blurt out a judgement about the age, intelligence, or competence of the driver; or worse.  I never thought my kids heard me, until that day my daughter beat me to the punch line.
  10.  I hate bedtime. IMG_0095 (1)You know how bedtime is that idyllic hour filled with soft light, snuggles and sweet-smelling jammied kids?  Me EITHER.  It is crazy over here, and I am done (see number 5). It feels more like doing drills at boot camp.

“James, jammies!

Renee, teeth!

Cara, get in here!

Who left those clothes there?

Stop messing around!

James that’s the third time!

Seriously, do I have to tell you guys to brush your teeth every night?!?!

Flush that.

Stop that.


They go wild and I get more fatigued. I end up skimping on stories, brushing teeth in frustration, and just getting through it.  Sure, I hug them and kiss them and tuck them in, and then I get OUT!


23 thoughts on “10 Ways I Fail at Mothering

  1. Dana I love this! I love the honesty and the reality. You make me smile a very big smile, I see myself years ago and I’m smiling because it’s ok, they’re loved, they’ll survive, and I will too! 🙂


  2. Amen to 6,8,9 & 10!
    I’m loving your words, thoughts and honesty. You’re a strong woman, Dana. You’re doing great! Every birthday the kids have, pat yourself on the back for keeping them alive, fed, and happy! Another year older for them, another year wiser for you. Your babes are gorgeous! Cheers, bella.


  3. I haven’t put kids to bed for many years… but gosh this brought back memories. It is good to hear honesty around this. Too many blogs paint such and idyllic picture, no one can measure up. This is what real life looks and feels like. Good job.


  4. Dearest Dana,
    I am so enjoying reading your blogs. I identify with your “10 ways I fail at mothering.” As a working mother of 3 children (now all grown), I always felt like I was Mama Witch flying home from work. Trying to get food on the table, homework done, baths, reading, prayers, etc. was so much harder than I had ever imagined. I had all the parenting answers before I actually had kids! But once the kids came, it was never the idyllic scene that I had imagined.
    I remember one time being out to lunch with a co-worker and we were comparing notes and sharing some of the struggles of being a parent. At the table next to us was a woman who kept writing and writing. When she got up to leave, she handed me a letter basically telling my friend and me that all of our struggles was just the result of being poor parents. Talk about a stab in the heart!
    I have said and done things as a parent of which I am not proud. But my kids always knew (and still do), that my love was and still is unconditional. We have all remained very close, and I think it is because of that love. There is no such thing as a perfect parent which is a good thing. A perfect parent would put way too much pressure on their children.
    Dana, you are an AWESOME mom, not perfect, but totally AWESOME! Never ever forget that!


    • Bonnie,

      I love that you are reading along with me!! Thanks for sharing. I can’t believe someone was so cruel to you and your friend! I’m definitely not a perfect parent, but I am trying. It is my hope and prayer that my kids and I stay close through thick and thin….although I’m ready for some “thick!!”


  5. Hi lovely lady welcome to the mad world of a single mum dreams shattered life turned upside down and inside out l still can’t figure out how a man husband father can walk out and leave his family his children anyway you are a normal mum dealing with 2 peoples work l hsd 2 teenage boys one who would get in my face back me into corners never hurt me physically but verbally oh my goodness the only place l could get away from him we a the bathroom as it had a lock on it l even walked out and left them for an hour or so l did use the F word on occasion that would work l sm a Christian woman supposed to set a good example but people weren’t doing my day to day didn’t know what l was up against my dad had to step in and spoke to the boys they weren’t impressed at all but l was at my wits end tired worn out no help from the father didn’t care didn’t want to know when he left all support went financially as well all left to little old me mortgage to pay everything so Dana you are an amazing woman doing the best you can as l said before nobody is doing your day to day only you are and well done you are brilliant and God knows that and is proud of you and loves you forever no broken dreams there love ya Paula x


  6. I am all in favor of mom’s time out. For years when chaos erupts or just when I am about to lose it, I yell mom’s in time out and then I lick myself in the bathroom , sometimes for hours. Yes, I have a book stash hidden there for emergencies. Even now I hide in time out from my teenagers. Is anyone else familiar with little fingers under the door and moans of ” mom, are you done yet?”


  7. Oh I would never use church as a babysitter. But as a day care. Heck ya!!! I’ve had a few more than a couple coffee breaks in that same cafe. And the cafe down the street. This is awesome. So wished u were living next door. You do realize that in your single parenting your kids are still 500x more behaved than in our co parenting. Oh and do lunchables count as making lunch Bc that’s all mine get…and maybe a gogurt. Xoxoxox


  8. Pingback: That Time I Said All the Wrong Things | Singled Out In Colorado

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