Failing to Fail

Why are we so determined to make sure our little darlings never know what it’s like to fail?

Why do we expect everyone to be a high flying “success” at everything?

When did failing at something become so terrible?

I grew up failing.  I failed plenty. I’m still failing.  And yet, each and every one of those failings was, and is, a learning.

Sometimes, no matter how many times I try and try and try at something, I fail.  Maybe I’m not meant to do it.  Maybe I’m not good enough at it.  Maybe, it’s not within my skill-set.

If it’s not happening, I have two choices;  I can keep going until I (maybe) do succeed. Or I can be proud that I tried but move on to another project, accepting that it’s just not going to happen

But either way, I’ve learned something.  I’ve either learned the right or successful way to do something, or I’ve learned something about ME; about my abilities and my limitations. Because, it’s OK to have limitations. And shock horror, it’s OK to know what YOUR Limitations are.  It actually helps.

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If they don’t run, they won’t fall… so how will they learn not to?

There is a massive problem in our society and it’s not just with our children.  There is and has been for many years,  a mistaken perception that we should teach our children that they “can do anything”; that they “can be anything”; that they can not lose or fail at anything.   That failure is not an option.

Well actually it is.  And I’d go so far as to say that failure is necessary.

 

The fear of failure is everywhere. None of us want our children to experience rejection or failure.  It’s evident at the school sports days, where we make them “race” and “compete” but then give them ALL a certificate or medal.  We see it in dance classes or drama groups, where they audition but ALL get onstage anyway.  We see it at football training,  or where the only options are “win” or “a tie”, so that no one has to lose.

Of course,  equality and inclusion are inherently important  in schools and clubs.  And most of these societies and organisations have individualized and tailored policies and programes in place to include everyone.  And so they should. Inclusion is not what I am talking about here.

But when in general, we are not rewarding the “winners” for fear of upsetting the person in 2nd place, or indeed 24th place, what we are creating is a generation who feel entitled.

We need to stop telling our kids that they can be “anything they want to be”.  We should be encouraging our children to try and try.  We should be telling them they can be what they want to be… IF they have that ability and are willing to work for it.

What is wrong with encouraging them to learn what their strengths and passions are?

What is wrong with encouraging them to try and to work to earn and to deserve the end goal, may that be a degree in medicine or a place on the football team?

What is wrong with our children knowing what they are good at and recognising what they are not so good at?

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How are they supposed to work towards improving and learning if they simply think they are entitled to an ‘A’ in an exam, or to the place on the team, or to a certain job because they’ve always been told they can be anything or do anything they want to do?

We do not all have the same skills.  We do not all have the same strengths. I can teach Shakespeare to a brick, but I couldn’t be a math teacher for all the tea in China, no matter HOW much I work for it.  And I wouldn’t be able to be a Doctor or surgeon, because I am way too emotional for such a job (and I’m probably not that academically able!)

Does that mean I am a failure?

Eh no.

Every Irish dancing feis I didn’t win, was a lesson.  It spurned me on. Every time I saw that a certain ‘Leah’ or ‘Clare’ was there, I knew that I most likely hadn’t a chance of anything higher than 3rd place. Did that mean I couldn’t dance? NO.  It just meant that those girls were better than me. They trained harder.  They had more talent. They deserved every medal and cup they won. They inspired me to push harder. Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn’t. It’s called life.

When I tried gymnastics, the day that I gave myself a black eye with my own knee was the day that I decided I was done.  Funnily enough Mum agreed.  Did I fail? No.  I was just shite at gymnastics!

When I got average results in my Junior and Leaving Cert, did I feel like a failure?  No.  I got what I deserved and I got out what I put in.  I had done my best.  And as long as I did my best, that was enough for my parents and it was enough for me.

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However, when I have won, or achieved or succeeded, it was celebrated.  Because I bust myself and try and graft and work and any other synonym you can imagine. And if I do succeed, I am proud of it, because it is mine and I have probably failed ten times before managing it.   If you burn the omelette and don’t try to make it again, how do you eat?

Every failed friendship I have, (and there are many), while heartbreaking to deal with, have all been for the best.

Every failed romance (yup many of those too!) teaches us something else important about ourselves and the person who is not right for us.

Every failed job or project or application or interview teaches us something.

For me, every time I auditioned, and was rejected, for a part in a show, , broke my heart a little.  Of course it did (and does). Let’s be honest, if I didn’t want the part, why would I go for it?  But rather than stomp my foot and think myself too good to return, I pulled up my big girl knickers and still joined the group; may it be to a smaller role or into the chorus.  Because I love it.  I don’t have to be the leading lady to have fun.

And our children need to understand that they don’t have to always win to be winners.  That they don’t always have to score the goals to be important to the team.  That even though they are doing their best, sometimes the person beside them is just a little bit better.  And sometimes, THEY will be that person and someone else will lose to them.

When we started to walk, we all fell…

And then we learned how NOT to fall. And eventually we walked, all by ourselves. (And sometimes, we still fall!) If we keep carrying our kids and our young people over every obstacle, how can we expect them to learn how NOT to fall?

Direct them, encourage them, support them.  But let them feel disappointment sometimes.  Let them learn to accept the success of others. And when they DO succeed, celebrate with them.

We have to sometimes fail to really appreciate succeeding.  We’re not entitled to anything.  We have to work and try and earn things.  Life will not simply give you things because you think you deserve it.  You get out what you put in.

And while we don’t want our kids to repeat our mistakes, we have to let them make their own, so that they walk by themselves.

Who knows, they might even fly.

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I am Some Things that Make me Smile Mum

What makes you smile Mammy?

“My children’s arms around my neck… spending time with my family… seeing my childrens’s faces when… hearing my children’s voices…cuddles with my babies…”

Yadda yadda yeah.

Of course these things make you happy.  And so they should. Being Mammy is the most rewarding and smile inducing thing in the world.

But Back up Bitcheepoos.  I asked what makes YOU happy.  What things, (not including your precious little cherubs and their hillarious/cute/wonderful milestones), make Mammy smile.   I want the OTHER answers, the things OTHER than your kids that make you smile, because it’s important to remember the things that make Mammy smile, other than being Mammy.

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Apart from these two, obviously.

Here are some of mine:

Food:  Food is possibly my favourite thing in the world. Nothing gives me the same joy as good food. The smells.  The textures. The flavours… I have been known to make questionable noises while eating certain things.  Add a smooth warm wine to a Prawn Balti and I may just love you forever. Eating is not just functional.  It’s sensual. God dammit, sometimes food is just sexy. End of.   I’m salivating now just thinking about it… To Hell with diamonds…The way to this woman’s heart is through my belly.  Just feeeeeeed me.  I’m like a puppy.  I’m not beyond being bribed to do tricks…

When someone else thinks of me:  When Himself leaves my cup and pod ready in the coffee machine before I get up.  When my friend hands me a pair of ridiculous slippers just because she thought of me when she saw them. When someone calls me, not looking for something, just to say hi. When someone texts me out of the blue.

Chatting:  With two chatterboxes for daughters, I don’t get a word in edgeways.  If I get the rare chance to meet my mate, my Him or my Mum for a cuppa without my little people, Oh but it does make me smile.  Uninterrupted, uncensored conversation with our favourite grown up people is soooooooo good for us, isn’t it?

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Hugs:  Apart from my Him and the Hers, there are some people whose hugs make me especially happy.  My Daddy is the bestest Hugger in the world.  End of story. No one will ever win an argument with me about that.  I love hugs from my siblings, especially the two who flew over the Irish Sea to make their nests. It doesn’t matter how long has passed between hugs, they’re stronger than ever each time.

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Hugs makes the sun shine

Being alone:  The true joys of being alone can never be understood until you are a parent.  When I get it, I take it.  And I’m talking ANYWHERE!  The bathroom. The shower. The car journey between drop off and work.  Sometimes, I run awful errands just to get 25 minutes alone! Even putting the bin up to the road is a chance to stop and breath and be alone for a minute. Grabbing a coffee alone is a luxury. I get up most mornings before 6am, just to have an hour to myself.  And who needs a holiday when you have the Supermarket to mosey through all by yourself?

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How I feel on aisle 3

The Beach:  The beach near my home is my absolute favourite place.  It’s my thinking place. Yes I love to walk here with the girls, but add this one to Number 5 and you’ll see a content and happy S-Mum.  If I stand on that shore long enough, all the world realigns and everything is better. It’s cleansing. It blasts away my stresses. And I’m discovering as I get older, that the worse the weather is, the better the blast.

People watching:  This one makes me smile just thinking about it.  I LOVE to people-watch.  I love to pretend and make up what is happening with them.  I write them into characters and scenarios in my head, and sometimes in my book.  (If you have ever passed me, especially if I’m alone, there’s a chance you’ve inspired something. That counts as a disclaimer right?)

Exercise:  This one might not be everyone’s list, but it’s definitely something that makes me smile.  It also makes me swear, grunt and cry, but so does food! There is a fine line between pleasure and pain isn’t there!?

Food: I know I’ve said food already, but seriously, I don’t think I have enough words to make anyone understand the utter joy that it brings me. 🙂

Smells: Stop and smell the roses, or the cut grass, or the baking bread.  Breathe in your Granny’s perfume, your baby’s head, the chocolate cake.  ALWAYS take a second to smell your wine. Or your coffee.  Or the washing powder.  Or the smell in your parent’s hall when you visit.  Smells are memories.  Memories make me smile.

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Breathe it in…

I could go on.  And even as I write this and think about these things, I realise that they are largely easy to do, find and that they are mostly free.   And so it makes me wonder, why I don’t do them more often.  Of course, time is an issue. Being a busy Mammy with a job and 20,000 other things going on will always make time an issue, but at the same time, none of these things are outrageous or elusive really.

And so maybe it’s time to make time to do them.  

So now, I ask you again.  What makes YOU smile? (apart from your Darlings).

Write down a few of them and stick the list on your fridge or in your diary.  Then, try to tick one or two of them off that list at least once a week.

 

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My Random Musings

 

I am Some New Year Mam-tras Mum

Happy New Year my Lovely Ladybelles.paper-3042645_960_720

By now, the trees are down and the house looks alarmingly bare.  It’s back to uniforms and routine and lunches and gymbags…and after 2 weeks of dreadful flus, no heating and general Cabin Fever, I for one am ready for normality.

I took my tree down on Saturday morning and very quickly realised just how DIRTY my house is.

There is a layer of dust, of handprints and of pawprints and of glitter on every surface in my home and I have decided to give it a new name:  it is my “Layer of Love”.

Giving it a nice name like that makes it easier to tolerate.  Clever eh?  I don’t feel so bad about the dirt now, when I consider that it was my own little munchkins who happily caused it.

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In the midst of the New Year’s Resolution BS of January, here are a few precepts or mantras that I intend to try harder to follow this year.  I’m not changing anything. I simply try to employ these in order to try to keep my sh*t together.

These would the Rules of Mammying if I were Queen of the World.

  1.  Embrace the Layer of Love.  Yes, our houses must be safe and generally clean, but handprints on the glass or dust on the TV aren’t really good reason to stress, are they?
  2. Let it go. The things that bother you? The people who annoy you? Are they really worth being bothered about?  If it’s outside of your own 4 walls, it’s not important.
  3. What people think of you, is none of your business.  If people don’t like you, it’s THEM who has the problem, not you.  Work on YOU liking you. Most important.
  4. Believe that you can.  Who says that you can’t?  Tell that committee of negative thoughts in your head to sit down and shut up.
  5. Stop Comparenting.  Comparenting is my new word.  It’s clever isn’t it? It’s when we compare our parenting to others.  And it’s never positive or productive, so stop it!

I’m not going to change in 2018.  I’m quite happy with who and how I am already thank you.  I manage (just about!) to keep it all between the ditches just fine as I am and I will simply try to keep implementing these ideas in my daily life.

Especially the Comparenting one.  I don’t care if Shaniqua’s Mum lets her sit in the front seat.  I don’t care if Tarquin’s Mum gives him Football Special in his lunch.  I don’t care if Jezzabell’s Dad brings her to every dance class going.  Good for them.

Parent for your kids, in your home.

I hope your layer of love is only beautiful after the holidays.

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I am Smile, You ARE Enough Mum

Mammies.

No matter what kind of day you are having right now, remember that You ARE enough.

You have bad days. You have bad mornings. You have a short temper. You have a sore head. You have a sad heart. It’s not what you thought it would be. It’s not easy. You’re exhausted. You don’t know where to start. You can’t understand how that other Mammy seems so together. You feel terrible for shouting. You promised you wouldn’t shout today. You were determined not to scold. You never knew you could love anyone so much. You never knew you could love someone and dislike them at once. You’ve tried everything. Why won’t she listen? HER kids do what she asks them.

We all have the inner Mammy Monologue:

I forgot his coat. I haven’t brushed her hair. Why don’t I have time to do her hair like that Mum? How many times do I have to show him this? Why doesn’t he SEE that that needs done. I may as well chat to the wall. No one LISTENS to me. Nothing seems to work. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong? I can’t remember everything. My head is going to explode. HOW did I forgot about the fecking party? Surely being this stressed is not right? No one else seems this stressed. What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?

Nothing.

You’re doing nothing wrong. Let me tell you a secret… EVERY SINGLE MAMMY thinks one or more of the above statements EVERY SINGLE DAY. Somedays, it seems like we can think ALL of these things at once.

We all have bad mornings, or bad days, or bad bedtimes.

But guess what? A bad morning does not make you a bad Mammy. A screaming bedtime does not mean that you are rubbish at parenting. We can be as determined as we like about not rising to them, or giving in, or shouting, but some days, our minions seem determined to test every strand of our patience. We can’t control or predict how our little rascals are going to behave.

Sometimes, we are not in charge.

Now, I am no parenting expert. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing most of the time. Sometimes I shout so loudly that I think the neighbours are probably running to their cars or finding their shoes incase the crazy lady across the hill actually gets to number 3.

But as well as knowing that daily stresses and meltdowns are part of parenting, because they’re part of growing up, it’s also important to know that there ARE many experts, qualified experts, and professionals in all areas of parenting that can help.

There are many resources available in Donegal. There are Childcare experts who can advise on behaviour, or bedtime routines, on how we should respond to behaviours, on routine, on difficult or challenging behaviours.

There are no quick fixes and no rule fits all. What works for my child, might not work for yours. What I need to change in MY home, might not be happening in yours.

There are some great online support groups and parenting communities (just be aware that often the most vocal on these aren’t actually qualified to be giving advice.)

There are also fabulous counsellors and behavioural experts around who can help with concerns or worries. I’d be wary of those who promise to change your life forever. No matter how brilliant a technique or response is, anyone who tells you they can take away all the stresses of parenting, is lying. So here are a few services and resources that are available to parents in Donegal.

Parent Hub: These guys are amazing. They run courses, provide support and generally know everything about how to get parents the help that they need. Check them out on:

http://parenthubdonegal.ie/

They’re also on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/parenthubdonegal/

New Beginnings is a counselling service provided by Sarah Barr. She runs a wellness programme called Minding Mammy which is dedicated to Mammies (and which is fab!).

Starting on November 6th, she is also beginning a monthly Mammy meet up in Letterkenny which is free. Details of both here:

https://www.facebook.com/NewBeginningsCounsellingService/

Letterkenny Babies is great as a conversation forum to ask advice and get support from other mums on all things Mammy. The admins will always remind you to seek professional or medical advice for more serious queries however.

https://www.facebook.com/letterkennybabies/

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, or swamped by the negative thoughts I began with; if you get to the point where you know that it’s not JUST a bad day, or a bad week, then ask for help.

I have said it eleventy squillion times… it’s OK to not be OK. What’s important is to know that there is help available and where to go for it.

Your GP or PHN can signpost where to get support of help for your child, or indeed for yourself, if you are genuinely concerned that a behaviour is more than just the terrible twos, or teenage troubles.

But remember 2 things

  1. You are NOT alone and
  2. You ARE enough.

The S-Mum xxx