Just a few days ago I had a day where I didn’t feel like I was failing. Today that feelings of failure returned, so I took the opportunity to consider the differences in the two days to try to figure out where this sense of failure is coming from. The answer is: Dozens of tiny places. It is in the phone calls I have to make to schools or church youth group leaders to explain why my kid won’t be meeting their minimal expectations. Again. It is in the household tasks that I see still aren’t done though I intended to do them weeks ago. It is in my to do list which has spent two days growing in size instead of shrinking or at least staying steady. It is also in the fact that the things I’ve been succeeding at are big and nebulous where as the failures are small and concrete.
Also, the successes are often attached to some large emotional thing which I really wish wasn’t a thing in our lives at all. It is a huge success to spend four hours talking to my son, assisting him in managing an unstable emotional state. It was absolutely the right use for those hours. Yet at the end of them I have no way to know if anything I said will stick in his brain and make a long term difference. I don’t know if we made progress or if it was just a holding action. I do know exactly what things I would have accomplished in those four hours if I hadn’t spent them with my son. I can measure the failures. The successes are intangible.
The good news is that the ending of the school year gives me a clean slate from a pile of failures. We get two and a half months to re-set, stabilize, grow strong. My son needs that as much as I do. He needs to be out from under the many small-but-measurable failures of the past few months.
Usually the last week of school is a playground with all the stresses lifted. That has not been the case these past two days. Tomorrow and Friday look to be better. Then we are free to make of our days what we choose. One of the things I hope to do is take away the pencil from that one piece of my brain that wants to make tally marks on a parenting scorecard. Keeping score of failures and successes doesn’t help.