Failure is not an Option


The photo above is of a very brave little two and a half year old about to go into to surgery to have her tonsils out.

About 10 minutes after that photo was taken the shit hit the fan. Big time. Not because of anything medical – she just wasn’t allowed to have a yoghurt. She really wanted yoghurt. Pretty much everyone in the hospital knew that she wanted yoghurt.

And so off we went to the operating theatre with a screaming toddler, a flustered but trying to be cool, calm and collected mother and a nurse who probably wished she’d called in sick that day.

Everything went fine – she sailed through the operation and by that afternoon was running around the ward with her frantic father trying to keep pace with her cannula pole!

Even that night (which I had dreaded since the day we had booked her in for surgery) went smoothly – with the aid of intravenous pain killers she slept through the night – probably the most peaceful night sleep she’s had since she was born.

But that’s kind of where the smooth sailing ends.

Our Sweet Pea is a not a “breezy” girl. She’s always been what I like to refer to as spirited. She knows what she wants and by god she’s going to get it. And don’t we know it.

This past week has probably been the toughest in my parenting career since those first nightmarish six months when sleep, hers and ours,  was a thing of the past. Our Sweet Pea has been anything but sweet – she’s been rude, demanding, sullen, aggressive and generally not very likeable at all. And the screaming. Oh my fucking god don’t get me started on the screaming. We have felt like we have been living in a war zone. It’s not an occasional melt down either – it’s pretty much all. bloody. day. And don’t think there is any rhyme or reason to this behaviour, Oh no, that would be too easy. What made her happy and content ten minutes earlier is now the one thing that has sent her wailing off the edge – with us wanting to follow.

I know she is only two and a half, and I know she has just been through a major operation for someone of her age. And I am trying to remind myself of these things in the midst of the screaming rages. But another part of me just thinks and thinks and thinks…

Is something wrong?

Like, seriously wrong?

My professional background is the worst for this type of thinking – I start to imagine all sorts of things. Bad things. Difficult things.

And then comes the blame game.

This must be my fault. I’m doing something wrong. I’m not doing something right. I’ve fucked up.

I have a baby journal for Sweet Pea that I started to put together when I was pregnant. It has a section where I had to write about my fears about becoming a mum and in that section I have written “I don’t want to fuck up”. I don’t want to make a mess of this tiny little person who is reliant on me to guide her through the world.

And as ridiculous as it may seem, every time she is screaming for (seemingly) no reason and I can see the unhappiness in her eyes I return to that fear and wonder if I am fucking this mum thing up already. Because my greatest fear as a parent is getting it wrong, failing her. When failure is not an option.

How about you? What’s your greatest fear as a parent? How do you cope when the days are tough?


18 Comments on Failure is not an Option

  1. Rebecca
    March 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm (3 years ago)

    Sending so much love to you and your little one <3 We've had a crazy week here as well, my patience has been well and truly tested. I hope you all get some respite soon.
    This parenting gig is epically hard sometimes. Xx

    • Karen
      March 29, 2015 at 8:08 am (3 years ago)

      Oh Rebecca it truly is isn’t it?? Sorry to her you have been having a tough week too – although I have to say it does make me feel a little bit better to know that others are struggling like me (sorry!!). I hope you get some respite too. xx

  2. raidergirl3
    March 28, 2015 at 5:24 am (3 years ago)

    Aw, poor everybody. Toddlers are tough!

    Not that this helps, but the half years ( 6 mos, 18 mos, 2.5 etc) are when kids desires and wants are farthest away from their abilities. So they know what they want to do, and can’t do it how they want. It is considered the most frustrating ages (for everyone!) As they get closer to their next ‘year’ birthday, the differences diminish.
    You are doing fine. Being worried that you will mess up means you can’t mess up because you are doing your best. Hope that makes sense.

    • Karen
      March 29, 2015 at 8:09 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks you so much for this info and comment – it does make me feel much better! Sometimes I forget that just by trying to do my best I am actually doing my best!!

  3. Natasha
    March 29, 2015 at 4:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Aw man. Kids ain’t easy. I take my hat off to all the mamas and the papas. My sister has a 3 year old…and she has the exact same fears as you about ‘fucking it up’. I think being aware of not effing things up means you can’t. Huge love, and a glass of savvy b! :) x Tash

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:13 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks so much Natasha – a few glasses have definitely been consumed lately!

  4. Robyna | The Mummy & The Minx
    March 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh it’s tough being a mumma! You know how you know you aren’t fucking it up? Because you care so much about not fucking it up. I hope it’s some solace to know that we all go through times like this and we all are convinced we are doing something wrong. But you know what? They are kids, and sometimes they act like kids in the worst possible ways. I hope things get easier soon.

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so, so much for your comment Robyna – I had never stopped to think about it in that way before. xx

  5. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    March 29, 2015 at 5:36 pm (3 years ago)

    I hope she is recovering well hun – having tonsils out sucks big time, for them and us. You are doing an awesome job and you will not fail her. You love her to bits anyone can see that in your words and therefore you cannot and will not fail her. you will make mistakes, heck even a saint would make mistakes with kids, but the joy of parenting is you get to fix those mistakes and everyday is a lesson for both of you and together you will get through it all – the good and the bad xx

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much Sonia – I have never really given myself “permission” to make mistakes but you are so right – I am going to make a million of them as this parenting gig continues so I need to just go gently – for both our sakes!

  6. Tamara
    March 29, 2015 at 8:34 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh my dear friend, know our thoughts are with you. Please call out if there is anything we can do to assist.

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much T – just knowing I have wonderful, caring and fairly sane friends definitely helps! xx

  7. Emily@squiggleandswirl
    March 29, 2015 at 9:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Sometimes a good wail is in order, or a mummy meltdown. I do think if you care about not failing then you won’t . Hang in there and accept those offers of help if they come your way x

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:18 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Emily – I’ve definitely let myself have a meltdown or two over the past few weeks! It’s funny – but even just writing about things made it feel so much better…

  8. Jules
    March 30, 2015 at 1:06 am (3 years ago)

    Being a Mum is one of the toughest jobs out. I hope your sweet Pea is on the mend. Toddlers bounce back quickly and there is no holding a two year old back when they are set to conquer all. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to take deep breathes, sometimes it’s five and sometimes it’s 20. .

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Jules – there has definitely been a battle of wills going on – and I know that will continue (and probably only get worse!) but I do feel we are getting the hang of things a little more thankfully!

  9. Courtney
    March 31, 2015 at 4:55 am (3 years ago)

    I just want to echo the comment about 1/2 years…these have been by far the most challenging for me with my daughter. 3 1/2 almost did me in but she’s really been amazing since turning for – 2 1/2 was rough for us as well. they are just really really tough transition times, generally speaking. And at 2 1/2 your daughter can communicate some, but not everything, that she wants to, and her physical self is more developed than her emotional self – very frustrating. You are fucking up – I am just convinced toddlers are basically terrorists until they are four years old or so. Keep setting limits and showing love – you’ll get through this!

    • Karen
      April 6, 2015 at 9:19 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Courtney – thank you so much for this info – I hadn’t heard about this theory before but it definitely seems to match where she’s at developmentally. Thanks for the tip!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *