When I Feel Like I Have Failed As A Parent

Ever since becoming a mum, I have encountered many times that I feel like I have failed as a mum, or that I am not made to be one. I’ve also written many times about it too. Today is another one of those posts, so if you are sick of such posts, you might not want to read this.

I lost my cool and I told Phoebie, my almost-six-years-old daughter that my patience for her has reached zero. 

Time and again, she did certain things at her swimming lesson that made me mad and again and again, I have reprimanded her about them. Today proved to be the last straw. My patience for what happens at swim class has worn out. By the time swim class was over, Phoebie knew she was in trouble with me. 

I brought her to the shower area and told her she had to bath herself. After that, as we walked to the mall to buy dinner, I walked really fast because I was fuming, and Phoebie knew that she had to keep up with me or be left behind, so she half jogged to keep up.

While waiting for our food to be packed, I ignored her the whole time. When our food was ready for collection, I realised she had fallen asleep. She must have been tired from all the cries and tantrums she threw during her swim class. Seeing her fall asleep like that only made me angrier. I called out to her loudly and said I was leaving. She didn’t respond. I nudged her and she woke up. By now, everyone was staring at us. That fueled my anger even more.

As we walked home, I told her that she would have to decide what she wanted to do when she got home. If she wanted to eat dinner, eat. If she wanted to do her own things, do. I told her, “Since you don’t want to listen, it means you’re an adult. So you decide what you want for yourself.” 

“I don’t want,” was her classic answer.

I blew it. I yelled back at her, “STOP SAYING ‘I DON’T WANT!!!!!'”

As we walked home, she tripped and fell and starting crying again. I was too mad to even stop. I looked at her and carried on walking. She quickly picked herself up while crying and caught up with me again.

When we reached our home, I told her that if she was going to keep crying, she should stay outside the house. She stayed outside the house for five minutes and I told her to decide if she wanted to come in because I was going to close the door.

Behind closed doors, I yelled at her a few more times because I was just too angry to calm down. I was so angry that I started crying. I told Phoebie that if she didn’t want to listen, it meant that she thinks she is an adult, and she would have to do all the adult things for herself, like picking herself up when she fell.

“I have failed as a Mother, Phoebie. Before you were born, I was working. Two weeks before I gave birth to you, I left my job so that I can look after you myself and teach you myself. Look at what happened today. I failed. I don’t know how to teach you or help you to learn. You think about who you want to listen to and who you want as your Mother and I will send you there tonight,” I told Phoebie with angry, disappointed and exhausted tears in my eyes.

“Many people are not looked after by their mum because their mum has to work. Your friends, xxx and yyy, they go to a childcare centre because their mum has to work. Your cousins are looked after by grandparents and maids because your aunties have to work. You want to be looked after by a maid, I will go out and work,” I said.

“I don’t want…” Phoebie started whining again.

“I HATE IT WHEN YOU SAY ‘I DON’T WANT!'” I yelled again. “You ALWAYS say you don’t want but you don’t listen! I don’t know what to do.”

“I am a lousy Mother who does not know how to teach you, ” I told Phoebie, “And I am a horrible Mother, right? You fell down and I didn’t even stop to help you. I’m a horrible Mother!”

Phoebie nodded quietly. 

“So you agree right? I am horrible. You tell me who you want as a Mother, I help you make calls, so you won’t have a horrible Mother,” I said.

“You are not horrible. I want you, Mama,” Phoebie said, “I want you to be my Mama.”

To calm myself down from the eventful evening, I took out my keyboard and my iPad and started typing this. I just had to get the whole episode out of my system. 

I’m still upset with Phoebie for the same things she did in her recent swim classes. But I’m even more upset with myself. If there was a button to switch off motherhood right now, I would. If there was an option of walking away or quitting this “job” right now, I would. 

Today is just a horrible parenting day. Today is one of those days I wish parenting is a much easier journey. Today is one of those days I wish I wasn’t such a fierce mum. Today is one of those days I wish I am a more easy-going parent. Today is one of those days I wish I could just walk away.

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3 thoughts on “When I Feel Like I Have Failed As A Parent

  1. We all have days like that. The “impudence” just pile up and we reached our final straw. We scream at the ones who caused all these emotions. When they cry, it irks us even more. We cannot control ourselves.
    There would definitely be guilt, and I guess that might be the feeling you have as you wrote this. There would also be shame for the actions that we did. I know I do. There were a lot of things I said to the children that I’m not proud of. Fuelled by the stares from the public eyes too. That sense of judgement. Yup, I know what you mean.
    But hey, before we beat ourselves up, we must remember we are only human, a Work In Progress for God’s mighty kingdom. It is not wrong to have anger towards the very little being we cared so much about. Even Jesus flipped table at the temple!

    This is not from any theological seminar or from the bible, but my own understanding of this self-blame thing. I remembered someone saying, God does not give us guilt. He does not drive shame into our faces and expect us to shun away or to leave the circumstances we have created. These sense of shame and guilt came from someone else.
    Instead, God gave His Holy Spirit to help in discernment, to guide us right from wrong. From posting this, and acknowledge this as wrong should be good enough for Him to change us. By feeling frustrated that we are not doing the best, is His cue to let Him take over the change we want to have – to be better parents, to be better children of God.

  2. Pingback: The Aftermath Of A Parent’s Meltdown | Mummy Priscilla

  3. Pingback: Reward At The Right Time, Punish When Need Be | Mummy Priscilla

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