Parent’s Accomplishments and Failures: Why We Should Celebrate Both

Growing up, and even now, I knew how lucky I was to have my mother. She always put me and my brother first. Her patience was vast, but it was not limitless.

Sometimes when I have a “bad parent day” and I snap, yell, show my teeth and scream into a pillow, I think about my mother. Her ocean of patience. How she would help me solve all of  my little-kid problems. She was gentle, thoughtful, and loving.

Instead of this comforting me, or pushing me to do better, I feel worst about my own parenting failures. When I think of my mother’s near saint-hood I begin to wonder why I didn’t inherit those motherly genes. But the other day, I flashed on a vivid memory:

My mother slamming the front door hard enough to make the windows shutter. Her stomping down our front porch to go to the laundry room. (Our laundry room had a separate, outdoor entrance.) Throughout her mad march, she would swear and mumble things like, “Ungrateful, spoiled, frustrating.”. I would scream through my window as she walked by, “I can hear you!” She didn’t care and she didn’t stop, she just kept right on with her mumbling madness. The laundry room was on the other side of my room and I could hear her swear and pound on the washer and dryer with her fists, until eventually she would begin to sob.

I realized upon reflection that I relate to her most through her imperfections.

Her outbursts that at the time offended my seven-year-old-self, actually brings great comfort now that I too understand the stress of parenthood.

After her laundry room breakdowns, she would always come back inside and apologize. She would explain why she was mad and frustrated and we would talk about our fight.

Our reconciliations were perhaps the greatest lessons she could bestow upon me as a child. I appreciate them more as a stressed-out adult.

None of us are perfect and we all lose our minds at times. To pretend that we don’t would be a disservice to our own children. The most important lesson she taught me was to own up to my mistakes and show myself grace when I fall.

Her parenting techniques have stuck with me and are reflected in the care of my own children. I hope my children see the patience in me that my own mother wore like a shawl around her strong shoulders, but when I slip, as she did too, I hope I recover with grace and love.

Rachel McKee

Author: Rachel McKee

I love reading about everything. I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my toddler and baby. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

27 thoughts on “Parent’s Accomplishments and Failures: Why We Should Celebrate Both”

  1. We are all human. We all do make mistakes. None of us are perfect and we let our tempers get the better of us at times. I know I sure do, and I don’t even have kids (nor do I really want to – it’s not the right life choice for me).

    Go easy on yourself. Remember, you are your own worst critic.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally. Unfortunately my own parents weren’t very well equipped to deal with a special needs child. They did the best with the information they had, mind you. They just weren’t the best prepared to deal with me.

        Part of that has to do with how little we knew about autism compared to today. When I was officially diagnosed at 14 my own dad said he felt like a total dumbass. I don’t fault him though – he didn’t know. Neither did my mother.

        As such, I hold absolutely none of their past transgressions over them. I’m sure if they had known then what they know now it would have been different.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I really hope that with new information about special needs, new training is available for parents to help their children (and themselves).
        I’m sorry that the information wasn’t great when you were a child. It’s very kind of you to show grace towards your parents.


  2. Now that White Fang is old enough to understand certain things, I highly doubt he holds against me disciplines or arguments that we had when he was 6 or 7. Some of them he is actually now having himself with Muffin. He’s learning that nobody is perfect, and that it’s not the failing that needs to be the focus, rather how to pick yourself up again. When I was a kid, I never got the second part, just constant correction and the insistence that I had to change my behavior — for appearances, instead of for my own sake. I think the greatest failing a parent can “achieve” is to instill in their kids the dangerous view of seeming perfect, without teaching them how to accept when they’re a mess and how to grow that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our father died early on. I was five. Our mother who had never held a job in her life was suddenly alone with four kids. She became strict. But reconciliation always came with the good night kiss. That special moment when we got a hug and a kiss from mama ended all animosity for the day. No guarantees for the next day, but it settled the current dust.

    One strange trick though comes to mind. Our mother would sometimes, I now think, just wanted to feel needed. She wanted us to KNOW that she was “somebody.” She pulled this stunt and it always worked. She would come home from the grocery and just as she stepped into the living room with an armful of groceries (in large brown paper sacks) she would collapse to the floor. Boom! And just lay there, as if dead. Groceries everywhere. We knew it was not real. It was a joke. We were just kids mind you. We’d shake her gently. Call her name. She wouldn’t move. This would go on for ten minutes, twenty, we’d start getting nervous. Maybe she really was unconscious. We’d get louder. More insistent. Nothing. We’d start crying. Then and only then, would she get up as if nothing had happened. “Clean up this mess, ” she’d say. And we did. Gladly. There was never any follow up conversation, but there would be a goodnight kiss and shared “I love you.” That was enough.

    And like you, Rachel, I now look back and realize what strength she had but also what frailty, what difficulties she faced and she coped as best she could.

    Thank you for this lovely post. And I think your own memories and now self-realization make you stronger as a parent. Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this Paul! Your mother sounds like an incredible woman and mother! I may have to try her trick when the kids get a little older. It made me chuckle.
      I’m so sorry you lost your father so young. Thank you so much again for sharing such a meaningful part of your story with me.
      On another note, do you have any writing projects you are working on?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words. And yes, I’m close to finishing Draft #1 of my first novel. I hope to do revising and editing over the hot summer months and having something readable by fall 2018 for potential beta readers. Sigh. That’s my plan! I’m up to 110,000 words. Of course I’m having all the doubts and and troubled feelings about the work, but I always feel better in the morning time! Ha!
        My heroine, Nikki, is a mid-twenties biology teacher in a public school in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She becomes deeply attracted (mentally/physically) to a young man she meets at a tech conference at the end of the school year. Nikki is a botanist, an environmentalist, a liberal democrat whose religious views have eroded to the point of non-existence. Her love interest, Cory, is a devout Christian. After lying to him regarding her religious beliefs, Cory invites her to be the “Green Counselor” at a Christian Girls’ Camp. She’ll be responsible for introducing girls, age 18–21, to the glories of nature. Despite her own misgivings, she agrees and follows her dream-lover to the camp. The experience is a disaster from jump.

        The novel is not a Christian novel by any stretch. It is a novel that examines two conflicting visions of nature: creationist vs. evolutionist, with my flawed heroine defending the latter, while at the same time, trying her best not to condemn the former. She walks, as the poet of old said, on the razor’s edge.

        Now I would have never told you this much, but since I’m nearly done with the first draft, I’m so happy you asked! :-).

        Thank you dear friend.

        Liked by 1 person


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