I’ve never claimed to be a perfect mom, it’s just easier to share the good stuff. You’ll always here me talking about the nice side of motherhood and sympathetically just listening when you talk about your struggles. My pride prevents me from sharing about my own struggles but if there’s one thing I am learning, it’s that we all need support.
Every mom has moments when she feels like a crap mom so I need to stop letting my pride censor me and say that I feel like I’ve failed my child.
My parenting method is simple – show up, be interested, get involved and make them feel loved and wanted.
Although I’m not a perfect mom, I like to think of myself as a good enough one when I can tick all these boxes. Lately I’ve had to challenge myself. Am I a good enough mom? Do I pay enough attention to what my kids are going through? Could I be doing a better job at parenting my kids? These are the questions that have plagued every mom since the beginning of time, I’m sure. Well, it’s my turn for doubting if I am doing my job as mom properly.
Last week I confidently walked into the end of term parent-teacher meeting and was met with a big unpleasant surprise – my child had failed!
With the same amount of attention and help with schoolwork, our one child aced every subject while our other child scored 2% below the pass rate for one of his languages. Hearing the words: “your child does not meet the minimum requirements to pass this exam” are words I never thought I would hear!
We’re struggling with this. To put this into context, both our kids have never brought home anything but exemplary marks. In fact, our son is our child prodigy! Since he was little he has been interested in space and aircraft. He is great at mathematics and his favorite subject is Natural Science. How is it even possible that he could fail his exams?
I’ve spent the last few days blaming myself. Why didn’t I ask to see proof of how he was doing in Afrikaans? It turns out he has been battling with to get through every test and reading assessment throughout the term! He never once asked for help which made me think everything was fine and so I concentrated on other subjects.
How are parents supposed to react to failure?
Josh’s failure is completely unfamiliar territory for us. I really expected Ashley to lose his mind. I was angry and disappointed. Our parents were really strict and I’m 100% sure that if either one of us had brought home a report card with a failed subject we never would have lived to tell the tale!
After I got over the shock of the news, I wondered God expects of me here. One word came to mind: Grace.
Joshua never expected to fail. He thought he had done well. He was distraught and all I could do was let him cry and give comfort not judgement.
Thankfully, Ashley and I were on the same page. We felt that he was being hard enough on himself and to add to that would just break his spirit. He knows we are disappointed and he is disappointed in himself. We wanted that to motivate him to work harder so we gave grace. We focused on him. How he felt, what went wrong, how he had been struggling. What we can do to help.
Our next steps
We all agreed on some changes. Firstly, privileges are being revoked until they are earned.
Our kids work well when motivated with incentives. Josh will now be earning Xbox time towards the weekends (which is when he is allowed to play). For every 30min of game time he needs to read one Afrikaans book. He needs to write down key words from the book and their English translations. He also needs to explain the story to us in his own words to demonstrate his understanding. This is a strategy we came up with with his teacher because comprehension is a big problem. Reading is the only way he will get used to the language.
His teacher has been very positive and supportive. She had been kind enough to send us tons of extra work and made sure we told him it’s “just revision work to help him”.
She is also motivating him to work hard at Afrikaans by rewarding him in Natural Science. Next term they will be studying a module on space which is his favorite topic. She’s going to reward him by giving him opportunities in class to give presentations on some of his favorite planets!
I’m not a perfect mom
So the verdict is out, for all my good intentions, I am not a perfect mom. I’m not taking all the blame for this because Josh knows that he should have asked for help. I just feel responsible for his failure because I’m the one who helps with schoolwork. I’ve missed some crucial clues that he needed my help in Afrikaans and he failed because of it. We are extremely proud when our kids excel so it’s right that we share the failures too.
Even though these last few days have been tough and the mom guilt quite heavy, I feel like Christ is guiding us through this. Since we got his report we have remained calm and chose to not be reactive. We gave grace and focused on supporting him through the hard work ahead.
We only have this one week of school holidays and five weeks before the final exams begin. Although this was a major blip, I’m confident that with God’s help, prayer and hard work Josh can turn this failure around!
As I’ve told him: You only fail when you quit.
I’d love to hear how you help your kids with their additional language and reading?