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Let'S Stop Talking About Failing As Parents

Earlier this week, while putting my 2 year-old to bed, I made the mistake of telling her we had to hurry because her baby brother was fussy and needed to be fed. No sooner had the word “hurry” been spoken out loud than my daughter began moving at a prehistoric glacial pace. I could have left the house, driven to the DMV, renewed my expired license, begged them to retake my photo, and returned home in the time it took her to put a rice-sized amount of toothpaste on her toothbrush. Seriously.

“III WAAANT TOOO REEEAD THIIIS BOOOOK,” she drawled, pulling Frozen: The Cinestory off the shelf. “Too long,” I said. “Pick something that’s not 300 pages of movie stills, please.” I probably don’t have to tell you what happened next.

Zombie apocalypse! Just kidding. An epic toddler tantrum, which is practically the same thing.

I was tired, frustrated, anxious about my fussy baby, and I just wanted her to go to bed, so I ended up using a firm tone. Okay, fine, it was more like a change in pitch that was sort of elevated. Alright already! I’ll come clean. I yelled at a little girl who’s only crime was wanting to read her very favorite book before bed. Parenting fail!

All of which made the toddler and the baby cry harder. Double parenting fail!

I could go on and on about the parenting transgressions I was guilty of that night and the next day and the day after and in just the last five minutes…but I won’t. You know why?

All this talk of failure is really getting me down.

Is it just me or are the concepts of “fails” and “failure” and “#momfail” ubiquitous in most discussions of parenting and families as we all fumble blindly in the dark at this raising-tiny-humans thing?

It doesn’t matter if it’s parents condemning other parents, like this article that’s getting a lot of traction, or parents poking fun at themselves like I just did. It’s really getting on my nerves. It’s negative. It’s unhelpful. It’s judgmental. And, frankly, as I’m now realizing, I have loads of better things to do with my time. (Like hiding that blasted tree-killing Frozen book.)

My gaffes, slip-ups and mistakes pale in comparison to successes. My kids are loved. My kids are cared for. My kids wear pants in public most of the time. Why am I spending so much time focusing on the few fails while the countless victories go unacknowledged?

And so, my friends who are parents, instead of merely throwing rhetorical questions into the internet abyss, I pose this challenge: Let’s stop talking about our failures and reframe our more interesting parenting moments in a more positive light. No more #ParentFail.

I’ll start. Maybe I did yell at my kid a few nights ago, but I was just trying to make sure my other kid got the care he needed. Maybe my toddler brushes her teeth at a snail’s pace just to irk me, but at least she routinely practices good dental hygiene. Maybe she has poor taste in literature, but at least I’ve passed on my love of reading to her.

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