Try, Fail, Adjust – Parenting

Setting: Our house. In the thick of a difficult few weeks in which I noticed my temper had shortened and I was really talking to my family in a very un-kind way but felt all my efforts to fix it turned out unsuccessful. I was feeling  tired, worn down, frustrated, and defeated.

Situation: Brendan had to go to the bathroom. He is almost 3 and has proven he can handle himself in the bathroom from beginning to end – even putting his pants back on, which was a point of contention for some time.

He came to me – I was in the kitchen – asking for help to put on a new toilet paper roll! I praised him for his initiative. “Wow! Brendan, I’m so proud of you! You noticed we needed a new roll, got one out, and tried to put it on yourself. Good job buddy!” I helped him put the new roll on, and started pulling his pants up. “WAIT!” he said. “I have to wipe my weeny!” “Well, alright. Sorry.” I said, thinking this will be a very short task, and left him to it. I had to go back to the kitchen to help Camille with something.

I had Camille up on the counter wiping her nose when I heard a startling sound… like something heavy falling on the ground. I kind of knew what it was before I got there, but I was so afraid of what was happening that I almost left Camille on the kitchen counter. I had to turn back and grab her. (Almost funny, but mostly NOT.) I ran around the corner, down the hall and into the bathroom and saw Brendan faced backwards on the toilet with the lid closed, one hand grasping the top of the tank and the other holding the LID to the tank, which was hanging over the side touching the ground. The sound I heard was it hitting the floor and breaking.

Yes. My almost-3 year old son did this, and this is the best I could fix it for now.

Yes. My almost-3 year old son did this, and this is the best I could fix it for now.

So now, here I am amidst an already trying week, where I had tried to eliminate distractions to focus more on my kids, and STILL this happens. Talk about feeling inadequate. (To his credit, he said he was “trying to fix it”… at least he had good intentions.)

As if that wasn’t enough, of course I then had to explain everything to my hubs, whom I could already tell was far from satisfied with my attitude the past few weeks. I have this habit in which I feel the need to explain myself to everyone around me. I’m working on erasing that feeling and either accepting the decisions I’ve made and their consequences, or changing them for the better.

Perspective… Was this a tsunami where we lost our house and all our possessions? No… Was this a death in the family? No again. But I still gave the situation power over me to name me “FAILURE”. That can feel like an internal tsunami.

But sometimes we just have to accept the situation as it happened. We have to use the “TRY FAIL ADJUST” method. I TRIED leaving him alone and he not only broke an expensive household necessity, but also endangered himself ; he actually did cut his thumb on it the next day (FAIL). If I would’ve stayed with him for that extra minute, it would’ve eliminated the whole problem. So, I ADJUST. We made sure he understands why it’s not safe or acceptable for him to play with or ‘try to fix’ the toilet. And he is under closer supervision now when he goes to the bathroom. Yes I’ve left him alone since then, but I am more careful to stay nearby and monitor him even when it’s inconvenient or when I’m feeling impatient.

Don’t you find, though, that it’s those small moments together that you cherish?? Funny sentences, curious questions, sweet remarks are all made when you’re giving your full attention to your little ones.

So, it’s back to basics for this momma. Remembering why I love being a mom in the first place; that my kids are and should always be my first priority; that anything I sow into them is a seed planted for later in life. And admitting that mistakes happen; that I can’t be everywhere at once; that that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

I am reminded of Shauna Niequist’s phrase, “Present over Perfect.” If I just remember to be present with my kids instead of focusing on forcing everything around me into a perfect little wrapped box, I’ll make more of the moments that matter.

Have you had any “failure” mom moments? What were they? How did you recover? Comment below if you’d like to share.


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