Good Parents Have Monumental Moments Of Failure Too

by Sarah West
markcarper / iStock

They say your true character is revealed when crisis hits. If this is true, I am pretty sure I am miserably failing at this parenting thing.

Sunday morning, I walked into our hallway and noticed a puddle of water on our newly refinished wood floors. I opened the bathroom to find my son had overflowed the toilet. (And they say women use a lot of toilet paper!)

If this particular crisis revealed my true character, I must tell you that I am a psychotic, foul-mouthed, overstressed mama who does not take too kindly to wading about in fecal matter. I wish I could tell you that I calmly searched for the plunger (which we apparently did not own) and directed my children to pitch in and help me avert this crisis.

I did not, however, do any of this calmly.

Instead, I yelled. I barked orders for them to get me towels—towels that just so happened to mid-cycle in the washing machine. I bellowed a string of expletives that I don’t think my kids thought I knew. I wasn’t even sure I did either.

On my way to the store to purchase a plunger, I texted my husband at work: One of the kids overflowed the toilet again. Can’t find the plunger. Headed to the store.

My husband’s response: LOL

I chose not to respond because I don’t find anything humorous about fecal matter. I didn’t need to escalate this crisis with a snarky response and reveal further character flaws. My mom raised me to believe if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. So I remained silent.

After I’d fixed the toilet and cleaned up the mess, we somehow managed to make it to church on time. By all appearances, we looked pretty put-together. No one knew about the volcanic eruption of the toilet. No one could see how stressed I was. But somewhere deep down, I felt like I was totally failing at life in that moment.

When services concluded, a sweet man walked over to me and told me what great children I have. He told me their character was the result of great parenting. As he walked away, I stood, watching my children in the distance smiling and playing.

I didn’t know what else to do but sob.

In my moment of self-perceived failure, someone else saw the fruits of my parenting. It is not about being perfect. Some days I feel all I am doing is keeping my head above water. The great thing is that each day brings new opportunities to improve. And sometimes in our monumental failures, there is an opportunity to share a life lesson, sometimes at our own expense. If we always thought we rocked at this parenting thing, I suspect we wouldn’t be doing what we were meant to do as parents.

Parenting is hard, and sometimes it sucks, but that does not mean that you do.