Thursday, February 21, 2013


What is failure, anyway?

Is it active - the inability do something - or passive - the feeling that we didn't accomplish the goals we set out to achieve?  Is it internal - self-acknowledgement of failure - or external - something we're told by someone else?

Or is it just imaginary, a state of mind we only visit when we feel completely hopeless?

By many accounts, yesterday would have been considered an epic failure at our house.  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and while chores and/or assignments did eventually get accomplished, I don't think there was much of a sense of ownership and pride in getting them done.  They were just things to be ticked off of a list.  And that isn't my goal at all.

Here's the thing, though: I don't really believe in failure.  When M1 was just a tiny wee lad, I had a friend tell me something that's stuck with me ever since.  Her mother-in-law, I believe, told it to her; the wisdom of the ages being passed through the generations.  She said, "You can't screw up a child in one day.  Take everything one minute, one hour, or one day at a time, and let the past go."  I believe in that

When I get up each morning, I never know what that day holds.  I'd like to say that I wake up with never-flagging optimism and greet everyone cheerfully, ready to tackle the problems each new day brings.  It wouldn't be true, though.  I'm not a morning person, and I'm not particularly optimistic in general.  I read a book about correcting negative thinking in children recently, but if I'm honest, I need to utilize the methods as much as I need to teach the children to use them.  It's easy for me to get caught in the downward spiral of pessimism and guilt and ugly thoughts, and I hate to see those reflected in the kids.  Still, even in moments of utter despair, when I think that the kids are never going to manage to reach adulthood with any sense of responsibility and ownership, I think to myself that the next day is a new day.  I believe it was Anne of Green Gables who said that "tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet," but I echo that sentiment to myself when I feel so incredibly down that I wonder if up is even possible.

Yesterday was ugly, yes.  Today had the potential to be just the same.  But it isn't.  And if I carried the mistakes and concerns of yesterday over to today, we'd be stuck in a very nasty place and never feel like we could get out of the hole we'd dug ourselves into.

Maybe that is what failure is - holding onto mistakes and not moving past them.

I'm not doing that.

So maybe, just maybe, I'm a successful parent.

It's a good thought to have.


Anonymous said...

That's something I need to work on - I'm all too apt to hold on to yesterday's negativity, dwell on it, lose sleep over it, etc. Very insightful post!

Kim said...

We've had those days. And man, do I relish berating myself for them. I think days like that are the nature of the parenting business from time to time; but you're right, the key is to leave them in the dust. Easier said than done.

peppylady (Dora) said...

Towards the end of each month I like to adventure out and visit some blogs other then my coffee pals and or people who do photo hunts.
I pop over from “Wendy...Between the Worlds”....I don't think we as human are failure or even successful is on.

Sarah said...

Thanks for visiting, Dora! And thanks for all the comments, everyone! I think failure and success are constantly in a state of flux; what is failure for one family may be success for another. It's all a matter of perspective.