07.21.2012

The Secret to Overcoming Failure

Dear Eli,
As I write this letter, I think of all the things I have taught you in your seven years of life. It’s overwhelming to me, that so much of what you know has come directly from me.
I hear my voice sometimes when you talk. It’s in the way you shake your head in absolute certainty that your way is the right way. I’m pretty sure I’ve definitely taught you that one. But it’s also in the way you sometimes send me a sideways look for confirmation of just how right you are …. I’ve probably also taught you that. (It’s the age-old “always pretend you’re right, and when someone else agrees with you, then you definitely are” trick.)
Today, I’m fairly certain I taught you how to fail.
It wasn’t really on my list of things to teach you. No new mom holds her just-born child in her arms and plans on teaching him failure.
On that March day more than seven years ago, when I held you for the first time in my new-mom arms, I dreamed of all the things I would teach you: to love, to serve, to laugh, to care, to honor God … the list went on and on in my ambitious mind.
But today, as I sat on the swing by Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s pool,  overwhelmed and discouraged, you were the only child who heard my words, meant mostly for my self-pitying self.
“I am so tired of being a mom,” I muttered.
Lucy splashed in the pool, Aden concentrated on diving for rings, and Bella laid out on her towel.
But you heard.
You heard those eight words that should have never been said. I wish I could take them back. But your sharp ears heard my words mumbled to myself in a moment of exasperation. Once the words came out the tears flowed down my face.
The harder I tried to stop crying, the harder I cried.
In front of my four children from whom I have always tried to shield from my moments of total meltdowns.
Fail.
Soon all four of your were surrounding me, peppering me with questions that I couldn’t even answer. At first I apologized for crying. Then I apologized for being tired of being a mom. Then I apologized for telling you all that I’m tired of being a mom.
But then I quit apologizing.
I am sorry.
I love being a mom more than any other job ever granted me.
I didn’t mean it.

But please, take this lesson of failure and learn. When you fail, get back up. Keep going.

Falling does not mean failure

I wish I could say “Don’t get discouraged.” But the truth is, you will.

Proverbs says that “the Godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” I’ve fallen more than seven times. But I keep getting back up, Eli. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I sometimes feel that anyone could do my job better than me. Even when I think that surely, someone else has to have a secret for having it all together.
If I learn that secret, I will let you know.
But for now, Eli, my only secret is this:
Get back up.
Keep fighting the fight to which you were called.
Run the race.
And run it to win.

And when you’re old, remember this lesson of failure taught to you by a mom, who in spite of her flaws, loves you. Maybe this wasn’t on my list of lessons to teach my children, but this will probably be the one you remember most.

I will, too.


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