Failure is a Dirty Word

IMG_1748Just so I’m clear from the get go . . . this post is a pep talk. For me. And anyone else who has ever taken their child to a well visit at the pediatrician’s office.

The scheduled milestone checkups should be called “scheduled panic attacks for everyone involved.” I have never seen my son in such a frenzy as he was this morning. He was basically planking in my arms the entire time while doing the demon scream. Super fun. Here’s a little play-by-play of how it went down . . .

Phase 1: Things to be accomplished while holding planking/screaming child:

1. Strip child down to just a diaper for weight, height, and head size measurements (aka wrestle a bag of cats).

2. Try to finish filling out clipboard with approx 927 child development questions while holding planking/screaming child. Questions may include. . .

“Can your child put more than two words together at a time? If so please give an example of each phrase and a definition of each word from the dictionary while you hold a planking/screaming child.”

3. Answer an additional 532 questions from the nurse about family history, diseases, current medicines, eating habits, vegetable/fruit/milk intake, sleep patterns, potty training (hahaha) and daily activities while holding planking/screaming child.

4. Wrestle child into “straight-jacket” position so the nurse can do a finger-prick and squeeze out blood and the rest of my sanity into a vile for testing.

5. Force child to leave on band-aid that he is convinced is eating his finger off while he continues planking/screaming in your arms.

6. Wipe blood, tears, snot and despair off yours and child’s face while you wait for the doctor to come in……

Phase 2: Doctor enters the room:

Did I mention that I’ve never actually met the real doctor at this office? You know how it goes. They are always too busy to actually see you, so you end up seeing the Nurse Practitioner or PA or whatever. Well I was in for a treat this time.

I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say after a few sentences that went like this. . .

“You really should be more consistent.”

“Your son clearly isn’t ready for that yet.”

“You need to work on his words more.”

“You’re not helping the situation.”

. . . I pretty much felt like a total failure as a parent. Never mind the fact that this doctor knew nothing about me or my son. Never mind that Maddox didn’t say A WORD while she interrogated both of us because he was terrified. And so was I. In real life Maddox can say his own name at this point so I’m pretty sure we’re “working on his words” enough. It took me a while to work through my thoughts on this one and I came to a conclusion I think we all need to hear. . .

Failure is a dirty word.

Don’t say it to yourself. Don’t say it to others. And don’t accept it when someone tries to convince you that you are a failure. My son is a vibrant, healthy, social, happy kid with a fantastic personality (obv i’m biased) and I AM NOT A FAILURE.

And neither are you.

Yes, some days are messy and scattered and exhausting. It’s ok. Growing a human being (in the womb and out) is a crazy hard job. Some days you feel alone in the fight. It’s okay. Some days you are the only one who will ever know how many diapers you changed, how many tears you cried, how many times you picked up crushed goldfish crackers off the floor, how many times you were belittled in the pediatrician’s office, and how many times you wanted to give up. It’s ok. That’s doesn’t make you a failure. Not even close.

When my son was learning to walk I never once considered him a failure in that process. Get up. Fall. Get up. Fall again. To be honest, my journey in motherhood feels basically the same at times. Why don’t we as mothers give ourselves this same grace? Perfection doesn’t equal success. Why? Perfection is impossible.

Let that sink in . . .

Perfection is IMPOSSIBLE.

Did anyone else just breathe a huge sigh of relief?

Don’t get me wrong. . . I have a huge list of things that I would like to be better at and put more time and thought into, but the reality is that I can’t expect perfection out of myself, or anyone else. I am just setting myself up for disappointment if that is my outlook on motherhood.

You know what I can expect though? To do my best. Some days my best is a clean house, clean bodies, and clean eating on the dinner table (aka tv trays). Other days, my best is snuggling my Bubs on the couch while he watches Mickey Mouse on the iPad and digs into a box of Cheez-It’s. It’s okay. You are not a failure.

You’ve got this Mama.




Tiffany Stotts is a wife of 5 years, mother to a rambunctious and sweet two-year-old little boy, and writer of crazy mom stories on her blog Honest Mom. She loves to encourage others with her real life motherhood experiences and remind us that we are all in this together. She and her husband also own Refine Worship, where they teach and train others how to lead worship and build teams in their community. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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