I go to sleep each night thinking of all the ways I’ve failed.  I failed to get my kitchen spic and span.  I failed to match all the socks and get all the clean clothes into their drawers.  I failed to write any more on my neglected creative projects.  I failed to eat enough vegetables.  I failed to do push-ups and bicep curls and sit-ups.  I failed to read my Bible and I failed to write in my flowered journal.  I failed to clean off the cluttered cabinet behind my desk.  I failed to floss.  I failed my kids in visible and invisible ways.

Is this normal?  Is it normal to measure your life by all the ways you fail yourself and your family each day?  Is it normal to count the passing of the days by the missed opportunities and the broken promises, big and small?

I begin each day already buried under the pile of expectations I failed to meet the day before.  I’m already behind before I begin.  The race begins and I have to detour around obstacles to even get to the course.

I can’t catch up.

I can’t recognize any successes in my life.  I’m blind to the good, deaf to the music.  All I can feel is the thrumming bass of all the urgent demands that I can’t ever meet.

And so tonight, I’ll crawl into bed, trying not to wake my husband, and think that tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, I’ll get something done.  I’ll achieve something that might last until darkness falls again.  But probably not.  And then I’ll think of all the things I wish I’d done, all the things I would have done if only I could get myself together, if only I had time.

Some people have a mental “To Do” list but I have this other list, this horrible list of “Things I Didn’t Get Done” and every day the list grows longer and I feel more desperation and despair.

This can’t be normal.

* * *

(Please, please who know me in real life, I’m just venting.  It’s okay.  This is what we writing types do from time to time.  It helps us think through things.)

12 thoughts on “Fail

  1. Hire a housecleaner.
    Put children to work.
    Lower expectations of self temporarily. Or longer.
    It’s mid-winter. Spring will come.


  2. Your little italicized addition at the end is so true, Mel. I despair at times, too, tho not anywhere near what I used to. I finally came to the conclusion that my health, both mentally and physically, was more important than my house and garden. So what?! Who cares?! Come to find out, it was only ME stressing over it all. And my hubby and daughter say I’m a thousand times easier to live with now since I’ve learned/am learning to just go with the flow.

    And, like Julana said…spring will come.


  3. I don’t do this about my failings in general, but I do about my mothering. I think of all the ways I could have been more patient, playful, etc. with my children and vow to do better by them the next day. It is amazing the difference in feelings you can have toward a sweet faced, sleeping child and a busy, loud, awake child.


  4. I am a list person and sometimes I do this too… but as soon as I start the “didn’t do” list I realize that what I consider doing nothing is really quite a lot.
    I kept two tiny kids fed, clothed, etc all day long, so that must count for something!


  5. Hey, I do the same thing and Im one of the most productive people I know in my circle of friends. My four big questions that I berate myself with every night is. I should have spent more time/or any time in Bible reading, did I spend enough time with the kids? Why didnt I exercise? and why didnt I drink my water today?

    I homeschool as you know so that kid one is bogus! I worry about it anyway.

    I can help you with one of your stresses. Hire a housekeeper! I have one twice a month and its a life saver!


  6. You’re not alone, I too do this! I think of how I could be a better daughter, cousin, niece, wife and mother ALL the time if only I wasn’t so tired and beat up by daily life. I actually ended up going on a low dose of Effexor because I was so stressed about this very thing that I became depressed and anxious. It’s been a year and I’m a different person. I’m not all for meds (as a matter of fact I detest taking even tylenol for a headache…I’m more of a wait it out kinda girl.) The only reason I gave in and admitted these feelings to my doctor and eventually went on meds was because I felt I was making my kids really unhappy. My oldest daughter totally thanked me the other day for being willing to do something to change because she said I’m so much more involved in life and less involved in worrying!

    Sorry to ramble, this just hit really close to home and I just wanted you to know you aren’t alone in these feeling!


  7. i read your other blog…you are a wonderful person. DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. no one can accomplish all they want to do…God, family comes first the rest is just STUFF.


  8. I have been guilty of this a lot lately too. Really bad. Today I was reminded of a lesson I was teaching a couple of years ago at church and I shared the quote: “How wise, how holy; how chaste, and how perfect, then, you ought to conduct yourselves in His sight; and remember, too, that His eyes are continually upon you.”

    That certainly doesn’t make you or I feel better on this subject…to know we are always being watched, BUT, a lady raised her hand before I closed and shared her own thoughts on this. She said, “It is important that we remember that He sees all we do, and this includes the GOOD things that we do. He is proud of us for all the things we are trying to do right.”

    It made me feel good to reread this and I am going to try to put this in my mind the next time I am going to bed feeling down on myself. I know I can come up with at least a FEW things that I have done right during the day!


  9. Yes, I too am aware of aaaallllll my failings when lying awake at night. A few deep cleansing breaths, then toss and turn for another 30 minutes before falling asleep just minutes ahead of the alarm. Ugh. This too shall pass! A step (or several) back allows some perspective and finally some rest. Cheers,


  10. Life is easier and I am happier if I measure success by whether or not my family is content. Dishes and making beds? I agree with Joan do it once and six months later you have to do it again, so why bother! OK, so I don’t wait 6 months, but overnight doesn’t kill anybody!


  11. You speak of failing – it is a weight that seems almost unbearable at times. It buries me, and climbing out from it becomes an insurmountable feat.

    I turned 40 about a month ago. I was determined for the past couple of years to get “the weight” off. I didn’t want to be “forty and fat”. But I have failed – miserably. Every “failure” you had on your list, I could have on mine. But I don’t have to make a list on paper, I carry it in my head all the time. Constantly adding to it. Never seeming to delete anything.

    I don’t have any wisdom to give you. I thought that turning 40 might bring it, but it looks like I will have to shoot for 50. One thing that I do know, is that being tired makes eveything worse. The failures add up, figuratively and literally. Everything becomes harder and I become unable to handle the simplist of things.

    I don’t know if it’s normal or not to feel the continual weight of failure – I suspect it is for some of us. I suspect that the floodgates just let in too much and with no proper way to filter it, we simply keep it.

    But you should know this.



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