Friday, 23 January 2015

Fighting the Enemy of "Failure" {Let it go}

I was chatting online to a sweet friend, recently. She was telling me about some of her struggles, and I was trying to encourage her. 

It got me thinking back to when I was in a similar situation to her.  It seems like so long ago, now.  Those days when I had only little children, and quite a few of them.  I know it's not as close together as some have them, but I had my 5th when my oldest was 6, and that was a c-section, with its longer recovery. 

I look back and remember how I struggled with so much.  I had a small house, which was REALLY difficult to keep tidy.  Lots of people, with all their "stuff", and not really old enough to help with the big jobs, makes life HARD. Cooking and cleaning. Doing school. We also hosted students from America at weekends, which was such a joy, but brought extra work, too. I baked a lot, and made my own bread.  Life was busy, but it was a battle.

You see, I look back - and I look AROUND  - and I see an enemy. It's an enemy that creeps into the heart and mind of most mothers, I think. 

It's self-expectation, and failure. 

We make demands upon ourselves, that no-one else places there, or we THINK others are placing there.  We THINK we should be doing X, Y and Z in order to be the perfect mother our children need.  We base it upon what we have decided life should be like, but when it doesn't work out that way we mentally beat ourselves up about it.  

We think we are failing.

We grieve over the time we were able to spend with our eldest - that same time seems to be spread so thinly now.  We feel that we are failing because the same activities cannot be done with other children that we did with the first. We started a lovely thing and cannot keep it up. We can try, but we can easily burn out if we even attempt to do it.

Sadness can quickly set in.  

I remember I had a baby book for Josh.  It was completed, with all the details of this, that and the other.  All carefully and excitedly filled in, as each milestone was reached.  I got on when I had Beth - about half of that was completed.  I bought one when I had Daniel.... it got a name written inside.  That was it!  I can remember feeling so guilty - that I was a failure because I couldn't even fill out a simple baby book! 

Laundry, which was so easy to keep on top of with one -  even between the demands of adjusting to life as a first time Mum - can quickly pile up. 

Dishes, which we so quick to wash up with just two adults, and a baby who didn't yet need dishes, now sit stacked up.

Toys, strewn around the house, with only little people to "help" - little people who are perfect at MAKING the mess, and not so much at the tidying up part.

Jobs you never seem to get around to doing, because even the basics are hard to accomplish..

All the while, in your mind, you are accusing yourself of being useless, a failure, just not keeping up, or meeting up to expectations.

The worst part, for me (and it still is!), is people saying "Oh, I don't know how you do it!", whilst inside I am screaming "I'm really not as wonderful as you think!".  The swan scenario playing out, every time someone sees your family - the calm exterior, whilst what they can't see, under the "water" of the closed door of your home, is you madly "paddling" to try and keep life moving.  Knowing you just have to keep paddling, but at the same time despondent that your paddling isn't moving you as quickly as you would like, or in the direction you had hoped.

I wish there had been someone to tell me THEN, what I know now.  A message I need to remind myself of, every time the mess starts to pile up further, and the jobs keep getting left that I think should be done NOW.

Not getting things done doesn't make you a failure! 

Motherhood isn't a test.  There isn't anyone standing there observing us, with a set of rules and regulations, grading our abilities to be a good mother.  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother, or care for a home.

You're not in some contest, up against the other Mums you know, in an attempt to gain "mother of the year" status.  

You don't even need to be comparing yourself to what you were able to do last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday. 

You don't need to hide the fact that you are a Mum who struggles, and who isn't "perfect"!  You don't need to push yourself even further to make sure your house is spotless when people come to visit, lest they think you are "failing".  

You need to look at today, and the strength and opportunities you have to do your best. YOUR best.  Not someone else's best.  You need to do everything in YOUR power, by God's grace and help, and within the limitations He has placed upon your life, to live your life.

Maybe you have  chronic ill health, which makes certain jobs nearly impossible?  God knows, and you can only do what you can do.

Maybe you are going through the struggles of pregnancy and morning sickness?  God knows, and the laundry that's falling behind because you are exhausted, or the dishes that never seem to be "caught up", will get done when your energy returns.

Maybe you have lots of little children who are always making mess, and you struggle to keep on top of it all.  They have fun, whilst you fret.  Don't! They grow up SOOOO quickly, and mess is not dirt. As my husband reminded me the other day "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."  Children are our "oxen". Children = mess! But, there is "much strength" in children.  They are a blessing, and the mess they make will pass before you know it, and we will be bemoaning the fact that the phase passed in such a flash. 

Maybe you planned to follow some school book, and it's just not working out for you. It doesn't make you a failure, it just means it wasn't right for you and your family!

None of this, and many other things beside, makes you a failure.  Hiding your life from others won't make you "perfect", it just makes you good at hiding reality!  All that matters is that you are being faithful.  Faithful to God, in doing all you can to get through this day, this hour, this moment. Glorifying Him by your heart being right, and your attempts being, well, ATTEMPTED! Doing the next thing, and not dwelling on what you DIDN'T do.

If you are a mother of small girls, or if you are just a person who has exposure to the world, you may have heard of a song called "Let it go"?  When I was thinking about the concept of "the past being in the past" a moment ago, I thought of that song, and looked up the words.  I know there has been criticism of Elsa singing "no right no wrong, no rules for me", and it is something we have told our children that, from a Biblical perspective, is not correct.

For a moment, though, take a look at this song from the angle of MOTHERHOOD.

"A kingdom of isolation"

Do we make our life a kingdom of isolation, because we don't want to let people in to see what REAL life is like for us? 

"Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know"

I feel I have to put across some impression of having it all together, so that no-one judges me for not being a "perfect" mother.  I am quite sure that most people DON'T expect that, but I feel I will be failing the "team" of large families who homeschool, if I don't "fit" the "right" way to be a mother.

"Well now they know"

Well, now you know!  *grin*


There, it's out.

My house is often messy. There is often laundry waiting to be done.  I shout at my children. I make mistakes.  I don't always get things done that I think I should. I waste time. I'm not always submissive.

Now you know.

"Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door"

Ok, so, slamming  door isn't really showing self control, but I am going to CLOSE the door on my days that are past - my jobs that didn't get done yesterday - the stumblings and sins of yesterday.  Today is  new day, with the capabilities that God has gifted me with.

"I don't care
what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on."

I don't. I don't care what other people say about what THEY think is the way I should live my life.  It's up to my husband, me, and our consciences before the Lord, to decide how our life needs to be. In the Bible it says to be "careful" for nothing. Full of care.  Anxious.  Worried. I cannot spend my life being worried about what other people think.  If they judge me wrongly, that is between them and the Lord.  I need to just keep being faithful right where I am.

"It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!"

You can be free from what others perceive as the "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother.  There ARE no rules on parenting - no man-made ones, anyway.  Other people cannot dictate to you how to live your life.  God's Word is always and only the "rule" for you.  That's it! Not your parents, your siblings, your family, your friends, or the media.  What you choose to do with your life, each and every day, can only be decided by you. God will give you, and only you, the wisdom to discern what needs to be done, and what can wait.

"I'm never going back, the past is in the past"

We don't need to keep going back over what we did in the past, or what we DIDN'T get done!  We can't dwell on the sins of the past, or the disappointments of yesterday, or the opportunities we lost, or the jobs that didn't get started, never mind finished. 

The Bible says

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1

Paul was speaking to those who felt they must follow all the rules and the law - circumcision, being one that was mentioned.  He told the Galatians they were FREE from the law - being a Christian isn't about "rule following".  Christ has set us FREE from that! Living like that is like being a prisoner.  Christ has saved us, not only from our sin, but being bound to follow laws that can not, and will not, earn us merit or salvation.  

Our day to day life, as mothers, is no different.  We mustn't become prisoners to fitting into the mould of "the perfect mother". Christ has made us free, and we can live our lives in the individual way that God has made us.  

Following God's commands? Yes! 

Following the laws and rules of others? NO!

Are you stuck in a life where you are always feeling your "failures", and only seeing where you are NOT achieving, rather than what you ARE doing?  


Are you worrying about what others will think about your life, and your struggles?


Do you feel you should be following the "rules" of motherhood, as others think it should be?


Mothers, set yourself free from the bondage of feeling like a failure, and let it go!

A Divine Encounter


  1. I'll try...
    This is me...
    In fact I've spent most of afternoon tidying when the girls wanted me to play games with them.
    I missed out ..

    1. I do that so often. I have started trying very hard to sit and read with the little ones - just taking time, instead of always DOING! Mind you, I then went upstairs, after finishing the blog post, to find the 2yo had tipped ALL the puzzles all over the floor upstairs. I am taking a food break before finishing it off. Some jobs are just quicker being done by Mummy!

  2. Great reminders! Thanks for letting us in on the 'real' you. That's all that really matters to God, who He designed you to be, seeking Him daily, and glorifying Him in your life. Blessings, Terry

  3. This is a wonderful take on Elsa's song & I will never listen to my kids belting it out quite the same again! Love it! Comparison among women is such a sickness, someimes. Its easy to get caught up in it, but we mustn't stay there. Far too often we compare our worst with someone else's best, and we forget that their worst, probably looks like our worst. Oh, and about the baby books...I never got our first childs book done! All our kids baby stuff is in a box and when the time allows, I'll get it done. Otherwise, I might just give them each their own box. A whole lot of me is ok with that, too! :)

    Thanks for linking to Grace & Truth!