How to Deal When You Feel a Little Like a Failure

This summer I found myself in a funk. I’ve sat on this post for a good month now, trying to decide if it had the right “tone” for my blog. I love this blog. LOVE it. I love that it’s light and fun and full of beautiful inspiration. I love that it inspires and might actually mean something to people. But the girl behind the blog – nerdy, shy me – she’s very real.

For the past many weeks I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that I’ve been failing. At everything. So much so that I was going to title this post, “Because Sometimes I Suck At Everything,” but then I realized that would upset my Grandma (Hi, Grandma!) and I realized I could find the positive spin. It all started when I learned that I had made not one, but two, rather stupid mistakes relating to my work. I’ve been a full-time blogger for a year, managing this blog for more than six years, and juggled blogging and a career as a lawyer for six years. Yet in just the past few weeks, I made two mistakes I’ve never made before. I was able to correct both, thank goodness. But both made me feel like I was awful at my job. The funny thing is, I dealt with much more pervasive issues – people’s lives, health, finances, and futures in a demanding legal career, while juggling a growing blog, for six whole years – and yet even making a mistake on a blog post about something almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, reduced me to tears and left me doubting my ability to be “good” at my job.

Those blog business mistakes, e-mails I’ve yet to return, missed opportunities because of my schedule, and a “to do” list that feels miles long, along with a brand new house filled to the brim with moving boxes that my clumsy toddler keeps walking into, plus a trip to the emergency room this past weekend when Scarlett fought the coffee table and the coffee table won (and the worst part is: I’ve vowed for weeks to get rid of that stupid coffee table for this exact reason, but “busy” got in the way and I plain old forgot), has me feeling like a total failure. For the record: Scarlett is perfect – just some minor bruising on her ear. She was actually happy as a clam even as we waited in the ER and hubby and I knew we had officially suffered our first major first-time-parent overreaction.

Failing at life stuff and even the occasional business mistake, while it sucks, I can deal with it. I can make amends and try to be more organized. Failing at being a mom, that hurts. I know inherently, that I’m not. Dinner is on the table, mostly made by me, every night, and Scarlett is well taken care of, learning constantly, and is so loved. But it doesn’t stop the guilt train … it barely slows it at all.

What is it about mom guilt that can knock you down so fast, no matter how hard you’re trying?

I’ve worked tirelessly for months moving us from one house to an apartment then into another house (the current and hopefully somewhat permanent house) almost completely on my own. I adore my husband, but as a resident, he’s barely here, and most of the home burdens fall to me. Then, the last two weeks, I’ve spent hours each day – often neglecting my own blog work, which I’m sure contributed to the above mistakes – unpacking boxes. If you’ve moved, you know just how awful unpacking can be. Unpacking with a toddler is a whole different ballgame. I stare at the boxes some days and think, “Forget it, we’re living just like this, boxes and all.” Other days I get so frustrated that I set out determined to find help at any cost and send out e-mails looking for a professional unpacker/organizer. Note to self: help does have a cost, and it’s way too expensive. So back to the boxes I go.

And then Scarlett stumbles into the same open cardboard box twice in one day, leaving two neat cuts on her little arms and it takes everything in me not to cry right along with her each time she gets hurt. Her hitting the coffee table; that was even worse. When your baby falls or hurts themselves, you panic, and rightfully so. When your baby falls or hurts themselves because of something you did, you feel like the world is ending. Typically, that’s accompanied by feeling like the worst parent in the world. It’s one of the most horrible feelings. It’s also stupid and unfounded and totally overblown, but as a parent, it’s the state of things. Sadly, we felt that exact feeling before when Scarlett was just a few months old and she had to be hospitalized for eye issues and later, and on several occasions, for stomach issues. When she cried, because I had taken her to the doctor, hospital, ER, for a procedure, etc., I did that to her. I know it’s not rational. I know it was the right thing to do. I know I’m just trying my best. But it feels … devastating.

As it were, the combination of all of this stuff, has made me feel like I kind of suck at everything. Maybe if I did one thing, or possibly two, I could do those things really well, but trying to be it all, do it all, it makes me feel like a fraud. Perhaps brands are only getting a fraction of the blogger that maybe I could be, our pretty little house could be so much more but I just don’t have the time, bills sit waiting to be paid, my friends wonder where I’ve been, and Scarlett is only getting a part of the Mom she deserves. The juggle is real.

So what’s a girl supposed to do?

I look at this little bug.

Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.) Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.)

Growing up right before my eyes.

Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.)

I remember what’s important.

I plan day trips and weekend trips and someday vacations. I put those things in my calendar so that I can remind myself that they are there and that the good things are ahead.

That not everything is about work.

Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.)

I give myself a break and cut myself some slack. I tell myself that even though a small mistake feels monumental in my world, so long as I act with grace and humility, and attempt to fix things and do my best, I’ve done just that – my best – and in all likelihood, it’s not monumental at all.

Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.)

My friends know that I’m here, but that I’m busy, and that I love them. I try to make new friends too, because moving to a new place, it’s lonely, and loneliness gets overwhelming too.

Toddler Playing in Summer Time (Plus thoughts on mom guilt and how to deal when you feel a little like a failure.)

But I want Scarlett to know that I love her right now. Not that I was always working or worrying. So I put down my phone when we drag out the plastic pool to splash around in the startling late summer heat. I remind my tired hubby to do the same; to tuck her into bed and to read her too many story books at night, even though he comes home exhausted. We make new traditions; Taco Tuesdays is Scarlett’s current favorite.

I can’t say that I have all of the answers. And frankly, this week, even though I told myself all of these good things on repeat just the other day, I feel crummy again. I can’t lift that stupid coffee table on my own, and hubby has been working long shifts and he looks so tired at night. I feel behind today, and overwhelmed, and unsure about the path that I’m on. But I am sure, crystal clear in fact, that being this little girl’s mama, a good wife to my hubby, a good daughter, sister, grand-daughter and friend, a person who is passionate about what she does, that I’m not so bad at those things. That to those people and passions, I’m just enough. I hope that helps you too. You are enough, and you’re doing your very best.

So tell me, how do you deal when you’re feeling a little bit (or a lot) like a failure?

Photos by Annie Watts Photography


Lexi

28 comments


  1. Laura

    You are not alone! I feel the exact same way. But at the end of the day, I try to remember that all that really matters is my family. I won’t be great at everything. I won’t even be okay at some things. But I try my best and try to remember that I just want my little girl to know how much I love her. Love this post of yours so much. It says what I’ve been thinking.

    • Lexi

      So glad to hear I’m not alone! Juggling work, life, and a family feels like SO much sometimes.

  2. Loved this blog post! Thanks so much for sharing!! I struggle with the same thing being a blogger, having a career, being a wife, and most importantly a mom. I think you nailed it though that staying present with your kiddos is the most rewarding and most important task!! Go girl! You’re doing an awesome job!!!!

  3. Mel

    I am right there with you! I love your blog Lexi and you totally make a difference to readers like me! You are human! We can only do so much. Try your best and keep moving forward. Sending hugs your way!

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

  4. We all have some moments where we feel alone and that nothing is going like we want. Enjoying moments with your kids is will help you a lot. They reflect innocence and recklessness. Kisses
    http://www.thebeautychik.com

    • Lexi

      You’re absolutely right! xo

  5. Loved this post, Lexi! You are doing such a great job raising your little one and she is SO adorable!! I get in funks like this too, but I think we have to just remember that we’re doing the best we can! xoxo

  6. Kristen

    I love this post! I know exactly how you are feeling but sometimes we have to feel a little down to realize all of the beauty in our lives!. xoxo

  7. Heidi

    I loved reading this even though I’m sure it was difficult to write. It can be tough when you work in a profession where it seems like 24/7 isn’t enough. Enjoy Scarlett. Our children are great reminders to be in he moment. And they grow way too fast!

    Heidi || Wishes & Reality

  8. such a great posr! I really lean a lot toward toward my family! They help get me out of a funk and maybe extra chocolate and nature!

    • Lexi

      Yes to all of this!

  9. Allie

    I try to remember that children do not need perfect. It’s all to much to live up to. They need to see mom make mistakes and recognize imperfection as ok. The world is not black and white, right and wrong and life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. That lesson is learned by watching/experiencing failure and realizing that life can move on- that we can keep going. While hindsight is 20/20 the future is blind. We keep going anyway. So screw mom guilt- our kids will learn more from our failures than our successes if we frame it for them right.

    • Lexi

      Oh my goodness, yes! You are SO spot-on with all of this. Thank you so much!

  10. Girl, I’m right there with you! I’m a newbie blogger at 8 months, while working full time and it’s no joke!!! I’ve had many overwhelming days, so I admire your hard work and dedication! As I was reading your post, I was reminded of 1 Peter 5:7, inspiration that gets me through *those days* … “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Much love! xo

    • Lexi

      Thank you so much! And keep it up! I worked full-time and blogged for 5+ years and though it’s tough, it was completely worth it! 🙂

    • Lexi

      Thank you so much!

  11. Bailey

    You are so inspiring, thank you so much for sharing! Your little babe is too cute BTW! 🙂

    xoxo,
    Bailey
    Here’s The Skinny

    • Lexi

      Oh my gosh, thank you so much! 🙂

  12. Angela J. Ford

    Awww this is exactly the post I needed to read today. I sit back, have a cup of coffee and try to focus on the things I am good at. I hate disappointing people in my life

  13. Stephanie

    Lex, thanks for sharing this post! It takes a lot of bravery to be real and honest and authentic about the things in our lives that suck. To share the truth behind the picture-perfect blog post or Insta, and to share our real selves so publicly. While I don’t have kids, (so I know that mom-guilt is totally next level and is basically MY feelings of not being able to do it all x 1000!) I can definitely commiserate with feeling like I am TERRIBLE at my job, my family, LIFE. Scarlett is so lucky to have you as a mom, and I know she feels loved and appreciated and special. You guys are doing a great job raising a beautiful little human. Thank you for trusting us to share! Keep your head up and your eyes focused on the things that matter most!
    xo Steph
    A Sparkle Factor

  14. Emily

    Thank you SO much for sharing. It takes courage to be so real, raw, and openly vulnerable. I can’t imagine that someone CANNOT relate to this post. I know many times I feel that I am not reaching my potential in certain life areas and worse, letting people down. At the end of the day, though, I believe that we have to make ourselves the priority before we can focus on anything else. It always reminds me of how when flying, the flight attendant instructs us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. If we don’t, we will experience burnout, stress and fatigue and won’t be able to assist anyone else. We all need to “put on our oxygen masks first” and make our well-being a priority.

    • Lexi

      Oh my goodness, you couldn’t be more right. I think it gets harder and harder to put ourselves first but it really is so important. LOVE your comment and thank you so much for the words of encouragement!!

  15. I always try to remember what’s important when things get hard!
    Kayleigh

  16. Lauren

    Lexi!! I adore your site. You should never feel like a failure. You are spreading so much love and joy in the way that you have cultivated this blog and in the way that you are creating a beautiful life for your family. xoxo

    • Lexi

      Oh my goodness, thank you SO much! That means so much to me. 🙂

  17. It’s weird because I wrote a post about new mom’s ups and downs last month and I definitely recognise myself in your words!
    I have a little girl who will be one year soon, I recently moved to a new home (9 months ago!) and I am still unpacking!!! And yes I also neglected my blog because I didn’t have time for that or I was just too exhausted to even think of writing about glittery and inspiring things…
    So I understand all you’re going through, sometimes I do feel that I am a bad mom or that I failed because I can’t do it all…!
    I guess we have to accept one thing: we are only human. We can’t do it all and no one can. Because the funny thing is that I was convinced that I was the only one that felt that way, the only one who was struggling with all I had to do! But I was wrong! No one can do it all.
    We have to stop feeling guilty because this is how I often feel and it makes me cry. So yes, we definitely have to stop feeling guilty because we are not perfect. Not being perfect doesn’t mean we did something bad or wrong.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one Lexi 🙂
    Thank you so much for being honest!

  18. Pingback: How to Deal When You Feel Like a Failure As a Mom | Nifymag.com

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