To be honest, I don’t really believe in the word failure. What most people categorize as failure, I simply see as a learning opportunity and catalyst for change. Making mistakes is an integral part of making progress. It offers a backdrop against which we can measure our successes; it offers context. We can’t understand joy without pain or light without dark.
But this word “failure” is powerful. For some, it encourages them to pursue the impossible, but for others it cripples them with fear. In most cases, I’ve found the use of failure as motivation involves a cycle of guilt, shame, and judgment. I’ve found that the use of failure is not nearly as powerful as the pursuit of growth.
Failure is described as a complete lack of success, but I don’t believe that any experience is worthless. Each moment shapes us and offers perspective, and a balanced life is about integrating all of our experiences and finding self-love, acceptance, and peace. By focusing on our “failures,” to suffer or improve, we’ve already succumbed to feelings of inadequacy.
Why can’t growth simply be a continuum that extends in all directions, likes shades of colors on a color wheel? Do we have to live in a black and white world of failure and success, or is there room for the in between? I think it is impossible to be a total failure or a complete success because we are complex beings. There has to be at least a shred of benefit and detriment in everything we do because choices have a variety of consequences. Every choice we make will have an effect, none of which are 100% positive or negative.
We live in a multi-colored world where the dichotomy of success and failure is actually impossible. We do not live in a utopia or dystopia. We live in a real world with an unlimited variation of experiences. So the next time you feel like a “total failure” as a mother, remember this is categorically impossible. Are your kids fed, clothed, and relatively safe? Good job. Do your kids feel loved? Good job. Is your house clean? Sometimes the answer is, “Who cares?”
Our dark days are not “failing” days; they are simply another experience on this journey of motherhood, and I’ve found they make the beautiful days that much sweeter.