On forgetting permission slips and the shame cycle of failure that follows

It feels like every time I get into a groove and feel like I'm actually nailing the parenting thing, something comes along to knock me down a few. My self-esteem around mothering can be fragile, probably because doing it right is so very important to me. So sometimes, a small failure can send me into a tailspin of despair and shame.

That happened earlier this week in the course of an afternoon, and I want to share it here for the sake of those other moms who watch along on instagram or pinterest and feel like every other mother has it together but them. One of the values I've always held, as a content creator on this whole social media circuit, is to never present having a perfect life. I don't have it all together, and it does't do anyone any good to pretend that I do.

On Monday, I picked the kids up to school and was informed that my oldest had to stay home from a pretty major field-trip because I had failed to sign a permission slip. Now, don't get me started on permission slips. I fail to understand why I can't sign one blanket one at the beginning of the year, or why these can't be sent electronically instead of it hinging on me fishing them out from a messy backpack. But nonetheless, I missed one, and the result is that my kid missed out. I felt terrible.

The guilt of that situation send me searching through every child's backpack, where I found, in another child's bag, a notice that we were overdue on their lunch payments. BY A LOT. Again, just an oversight that is easily corrected, but still . . . it made me feel embarrassed and irresponsible. Like I'm the mom who can't keep it together.



Almost simultaneously, the drum teacher showed up, and he sent the kids looking for their drum folders, which were no where to be found. Which highlighted the fact that 1) our house is a disorganized mess, and 2) the kids had not practiced since last week's lesson. He was clearly annoyed with our lack of concern, and once again, I was embarrassed and feeling like a failure. I could come up with a million excuses for why this particular week was so crazy and hectic, but here's the truth: EVERY week is crazy and hectic.

As a working mom, there is very little (if any) room for error or variation from the norm.  I already have more on my plate than is probably realistic with four children - I have a full-time job, and I'm trying to manage a remodel that has gone off the rails.  If everything worked out exactly as planned in any given day, I still probably wouldn’t have enough time to do everything, but I could manage.  However, then there are the weeks (or months) when a volcano of chaos crops up, and things just pile up and fall down and life becomes insane. And some things fall through the cracks.

The problem, when that happens, is as much mental as it is anything. I can very quickly turn to negative thoughts and catastrophizing. I'm a terrible mom. I'm doing everything wrong. I am failing everyone around me. It takes some serious reframing on my part to get myself back to a healthy place, where I can acknowledge that I'm doing my best, that my kids are happy and well care-for, and that making mistakes is a part of being a human being.

I'm trying to be more diligent in searching for those pesky permission slips. I'm creating a new system for the drum folders. I'm pre-paying for school lunches through the end of the year. But I'm also trying to be a little gentler with myself.

If you are a parent, do you have moments that push you into feeling a spiral of failure? What are some of those circumstances for you? And when you land in that place, how do you get yourself out?



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