Failure Leads to Grace

We took Oliver to his first movie, Incredibles 2, this morning. I honestly went in with a good mindset on the whole thing, even though Drew kept warning me that “It may not go well, and that’s okay.” Oliver loves movies at home, so I figured that this would be a piece of cake and had nothing to worry about. Give that kid some popcorn and M&M’s and he’s set.

And he was… for the 30 minutes of previews. (Yes, THIRTY MINUTES!!! At least now I know for the future-the far, far future- that if we show up 30 minutes “late” for a movie, we’ll be right on time.)

During those 30 minutes, he munched on his popcorn and sat great all by himself in those big, comfy chairs. Every time I looked over at him, I even got a little sentimental, thinking how big and grown up he looked. I was happy, content, and relaxed.

Then, the movie started. As did the 2 bathroom trips in 15 minutes because he kept yelling “I pooped!” when, in fact, he did not poop. But other kids were also making their way to the bathroom, so I didn’t feel quite so terrible, yet. Not until he kept getting out of his seat to yell out the letters highlighted on the steps. Then there was the spilled popcorn, that he happily started to pick up off the floor… only to try to shove into his mouth before I could swat it away. Then there was swapping seats with Drew, which would have been fine since he was at least sitting, but he of course had to scoot right up next to the woman and her quiet, behaving little girl, and start kicking their seat and sucking on his drink obnoxiously loud. By this point, no amount of popcorn and M&M’s could bribe him enough to just sit and watch the movie. Finally, after another 30 minutes of this ongoing battle, we threw in the white flag. I marched down the steps, fuming with embarrassment and disappointment. But not with Oliver.

I was wholeheartedly upset with myself. Because I had failed. I felt like I had failed as a parent, because other kids could sit through movie, so why couldn’t mine? Did we not do enough with him leading up to this point? Have we not taught him manners and how to behave in public? Did we not discipline enough? Or did we discipline too much, so now he’s rebelling? All of these questions were going through my head on the drive home. Even as Drew tried to talk me through it and give me pep talks and point out the good that came from this, I felt this agonizing defeat. I had failed.

But what I realized, after I let go of all of those diminishing feelings and doubts, was that I had failed on the biggest thing that I preach and preach to everybody else.

I had failed to give myself grace.

I have this ability to lift up other people, to make sure they know that they are loved and cared for, no matter how worthless they feel. I have this ability to say “Hey, you tried, and that’s all that matters!” to other moms who feel like they failed.

But my strong headed mind has the hardest time giving that same amount of love and grace to myself. I forget that I am human. I forget that I’m not going to be the perfect parent, no matter how hard I try to be. I forget that I have my own self worth that I need to work on, daily. I forget that failing doesn’t make ME a failure, it just allows room for growth and GRACE.

If I look at everything that happened during our moviegoing experience, then all I would see is failure. But if I CHOOSE to see the small moments- the 30 minutes that Oliver sat there eating his popcorn, the fact that all 3 of us were able to go and do something as a family, even how Oliver looked after we left the movie early- content and happy as can be. Those are the moments I can look back at, gracefully and full of joy.

Failure does not have to mean defeat. If you choose to give yourself some grace, failure can mean a beautiful, growing moment in your life. Let grace win.

-J

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