Failing at Life

Failing at Life

EVERYTHING(1)I’m totally and completely failing at life right now.

And not just a little bit.

Take today, for example.  I didn’t pay close attention to my two-year-old at the park and he took off his shoes and stepped in something prickly.  When we got home, I spent 45 minutes with tweezers picking splinters out of the poor guy’s toes.  This put me behind at work, so I frantically spent the afternoon trying to catch up while Will slept and Joey and Kate played Legos.  I had promised Kate 4:15 Zumba so I woke Will up at 3:30 only to have him take one step on his foot and find more splinters.  More tweezers.  More crying.  More frantic rushing.  I left at 3:55.  I forgot my wallet.

I got to the gym and they let me in (without my card) but realized that I had to go straight from Zumba to basketball and get the kids dinner in-between.  I begged $20 off of my friend Rebecca (thanks!) and headed to Chick-Fil-A, where I told my kids to eat fast in the back seat.  They did.  I brought the kids to basketball and sat Will on my lap where he promptly… threw up.  All over me and himself and the gym floor and my kind friends who happened to be sitting next to me chatting.

My friend Monica saved me by running for paper towels but I was still a total disaster.

I sulked out to the car and wiped us both off the best I could and proceeded to sit in the dark car with a squirmy two-year-old who suddenly felt better for the rest of my kid’s practice.

The kids came out (finally) and we headed home only for me to realize that I had no gas.  My car said “16 miles to empty” and my house was more than 10 miles away.

We made it home.  I have no idea if my car has enough gas to get to the gas station tomorrow but I’m not thinking about that right now.  I have puke-covered clothes to wash and a sobbing toddler who is screaming “I’m hungry” and two exhausted big kids who need to go to bed and…

I’m a mess.

A total mess.

And I haven’t even told you about the recent toothpaste incident or Chai tea latte incident or car breaking down incidents (yes, that’s plural) or the broken water main or the fact that I totally screwed up a client campaign at work.  I haven’t shown you pictures of the pile (no, mountain) of unfolded laundry sitting in my room or the piles of dog hair sitting in the corners of my kitchen.

I’m not exaggerating:  I’m totally failing right now.

I have good excuses.  My mom (who happens to be my sole babysitter as well as the person who does half of the school at home duties for my older kids) had to fly to Oregon more than two weeks ago to help her mom who is struggling with Alzheimer’s.  So I’ve been left without childcare unexpectedly and had to make do.  It’s not exactly easy to find a last-minute temporary daytime babysitter for one day a week.  Additionally, my father-in-law had a stroke last week and my husband has been very preoccupied with this and is heading to Oregon for the next week.  His job has also kept him late almost every night.  The pollen count in Austin is higher than it’s ever been and I can hardly breath right now.  And (as I mentioned before), my kid is puking.

I’m tired.  And frazzled.  And totally overwhelmed.

But, excuses aside, I have to start wondering what I am doing wrong.  Why have I allowed myself to get to the point where I can’t handle even tiny curve balls?  Where I don’t pay close enough attention to my kids and they end up smearing toothpaste all over the walls or filling their feet with prickles?  Where I don’t have the mental capacity to do well at work?  Where I can’t even find the time to blog (something I love) or read (something I love even more)?

I’ve obviously allowed myself to become unbalanced.

And something has to go.

But what?

I’m sitting here right now, tears streaming down my face, wondering what I can let go of, how I can regain the balance I obviously need.

Where are my priorities?

What can I do to regain them?

And how can I get myself to a place where I am not sinking in the mire of business and the muck of failed expectations.  Because my kids don’t deserve this.  And neither does my husband.  Or my boss.  Or my co-workers.

Will you pray with me as I struggle through this?  I’m not sure of the answers, but I know there has to be one, because I’m not sure I can handle another day like today.


  1. Girl…

    also, it’s temporary.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Andrea!

  2. Oh Erin. What a day you are having (make that week and month as well). I’ve got nothing I can say to make it better except that I’m praying for you girl–hoping you realize that in no way, shape or form are you failing at anything. Life may be uber (super-duper) hard and not so fun (like, what-so-ever), but you are not failing. You are awesome and I hope you know that. Hugs!

    • Awww, Jenny, you get it, too. Thanks for praying.

  3. Oh sweet friend. Hugs to you (and to think you’ve brought me dinner two weeks in a row – I should be bringing you dinner!!). Life is crazy, and hard, and totally messed up sometimes. You aren’t alone in this. Promise. Even if all you want from me is prayer, you’ve got it. But know that I will help in any way I can! Just so you know, I’m pretty good at doing laundry. 😉

    • Sarah, oh, how I adore you. (Even with a flaw like being good at laundry. :)) Thanks for the prayer.

  4. I really feel you here, I’ve been there, probably this afternoon, or yesterday, or last week. And then some days, I don’t feel like I’m sucking at life and motherhood and everything I care about… and like you, I wonder how it happens and what’s not working. I saw someone on your Facebook thread mention and that’s what sent me over here to comment… I really think that’s it. That we all need help, or we have to let some things go. It has taken me almost 8 years of parenting to not feel guilty about having a regular babysitter (one that I pay, who is not my mom). So I know I’m repeating myself… but that’s my “solution” to the problem with no real solution. We have to set up systems to support us, or let some things go. And it’s probably a mix of both. And I’m thinking of you and praying for you. You’re not alone and tomorrow WILL be better. It has to be right? :)

    • That’s great advice, Angie. I think I need a better support system…. and a lot of prayer. Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Erin,

    You need to take a deep breath, put the little ones to bed tonight, get in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book, and RELAX! Girlfriend you are NOT a bad mother, wife, employee, you are WONDERFUL! We all have days like this, remember momma even said we would. You are doing your best, and you have great kids. Your world isn’t the same as it normally would be, and it’s okay to loose it when everything gets shaken up. Take a step back, are they all alive? Check. Fed? Check. Happy enough? Check…..

    Now I command you to relax tonight, and I want you to spend at least 10-15 minutes in scriptures tonight and praying and letting this stuff all go to your Savior to worry about. Phillipians 4:6 Don’t worry about ANYTHING instead pray about EVERYTHING. If you aren’t taking time with the Lord and you aren’t letting HIM worry for you, then you are going to feel overwhelmed and let Murphy creep in and make you miserable. give it to God, let Him take it all head on, and you just pray and spend time with Him first, then take car of your own needs to relax and let it all go, and then all the other things will come into place.

    Love you, chin up, head high, and let Jesus do this for you more.


    • Awww, Rachel, you are so sweet. I wish you lived closer. Thanks for the thoughts and advice.

  6. Praying!! I am reading a great book right now. It is called Desperate. By Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. You see yourself as failing Your kids see you as their superhero. Go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. If I knew you, I would take your kiddos once a week. :)

    • Amy– Great advice. I’m going to have to get that book!

  7. This made me tear up too. Yes, praying for you right this second. I live in Alabama and have a 20 month old daughter and 19 weeks pregnant with #2. I’ve never commented on your blog, but I follow you and also read your Christian Mama’s Guide for Having a Baby (I loved it.) I don’t think I would blame all this on yourself. You have A LOT going on right now. Flying almost completely solo with 3 kids is probably VERY challenging. Sometimes your circumstances make it impossible to hold it all together. I don’t know the answers either, but my opinion is that you are definitely trying to focus on your priorities. You are doing the very best you can. You actually made it to all those activities, got your kids fed (even if it didn’t stay down!), made it home successfully and maybe some of them are sleeping by now. Anybody would be questioning their sanity with what you’ve been through today! I’d say you’re doing a pretty great job! I pray you will allow yourself some grace. I have confidence you will make it through and things will get better…especially when things settle down and you have your mom and husband back like normal!!

    • Oh, Stacie, what a wonderful response… how encouraging! And I feel like I need to encourage you… I’ve been where YOU are (pregnant with a baby) and it’s also hard. I agree… I have to focus on my priorities. Thanks for commenting… I really appreciate it.

      • Hi Erin, I’ve literally just found your blog page now, as I only just purchased your book the Christian mamas guide to babys first year.

        But I see you wrote this over a year ago as well. But you were going through such a lot at the time! I’ve started reading your book and it’s great and funny that want to get the one for being a parent to a toddler, as I have a son who has just turned 2 and a daughter who is almost 9 months old. So far I can relate to all I’ve read in the book!

        It’s indeed good to share as a problem shared is a problem halved! Ans it reminds us mummies that we’re not alone in our struggles and the inevitable mistakes we make through this journey!

        God bless. x

        • Hi Vicki-

          Thanks so much for the note. I’m glad to have met you… please keep in touch.

  8. I wish I could give you a big hug and we could swap ridiculous battle stories!!! I’ve had a similar week and am also wondering WHAT IN THE WORLD?? I love your honesty and will pray– those aren’t just tiny curve balls there. I’m sorry that sooo much is going on. Love you and miss you.

    • Mandy, I wish you were here, too!!! I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough week… crazy times. Praying for YOU.

  9. Oh, Erin. There are no words for days (or weeks or months or years) like these. All I can say is that you have such a beautiful heart in the midst of it all, and you are cherished by so many. I will most definitely pray alongside you! Sending a hug your way!!

  10. The good news… you are not alone! It just feel like you are. :-( Praying for you!!! You will get through this. His mercies are new every morning (thank you Jesus!).

  11. Poor sweet Erin! You have no idea how much I look up to you EVERY DAY for your energy and enthusiasm and great ideas. You are my hero. Chin up! Your friends are there for you 100 percent. As am I.

  12. Just wanted you to know that you and your family are being lifted up in prayer from the Zagt house. The Erin I knew growing up was a very strong, determined and creative little girl…..and I have no doubt she has grown into many more fine qualities over the years. Give yourself some grace, my friend, and know that being a mama is one of Gods greatest blessings BUT one of the hardest too!!!! The only advice I have for you is to lean on the Lord for guidance and simplify your schedule as best you can until your mom and hubby are on board once again to help you out. Put those kiddoes to bed and then you go sit in a bubble bath & talk with our good Lord…..He may even get you to giggle a bit about your horrendous day that you just went thru!!! Sending you lots of warm hugs and good prayer from Bend, OR!!!!

  13. So sorry you had such a horrible day. It’s just so hard sometimes. But you aren’t failing. You’re just living the life of a hard-working, grace-seeking, imperfect mom. His mercies are new for you tomorrow and the next day. And there’s grace upon grace for each moment. I think the hardest part for us moms is feeling the grace, tapping into it in each moment. Praying you will feel it rush over you right now in Jesus name and in the days to come. Hang in there mama. I don’t know you but people I love tell me you are awesome. :)

  14. You put into words exactly how I have felt lately….I too have no idea what to do or where to start….i have had days and weeks like that where you just feel like such a failure because you can’t keep it all together and do it all well. We know it is unrealistic to be able to do so yet we keep trying. I hope you get answers soon…have you seen the new book by Candace Cameron Bure called Balancing it all…my story of juggling priorities and purpose. It looks like a good read …now if I could just find time to READ IT! Hope it helps knowing you are not the only one out there STRUGGLING with this same problem!

  15. Erin,

    First and foremost you are wonderful. You are an excellent daughter, wife, mother and employee. You are blessed to have a mother who adores you and your children so much that she helps you, and you are being a blessing in taking on a heavier load at home so she can help her mother with Alzheimer’s. That is a very tough disease, and I am sure your mom can sympathize with your feelings as I imagine she often feels overwhelmed in that situation. You are an excellent wife in supporting your husband as he attends to his father. Also a difficult situation. You are an excellent mother simply in loving your children, and also in doing your best to follow through with each and every planned activity they have. The thing about kids is they really just need to be loved, and a mama who is rested. If you have to let a few activities go while your mom and husband are away, they may be temporarily disappointed, but I guarantee you in 20 years they will never remember that missed class, but rather that they had the best and most loving mom. You are an excellent employee because you show up to work when most people would call in sick. And I am sure you didn’t do any lasting damage there either.

    This season you are in is temporary. Your mom and husband will return. You sound absolutely exhausted and we have all been there at some point! I completely lost it when my husband went on a business trip for a week when I had a 4 month old and no sleep and my parents were in Hawaii the same week. I called my mom bawling every day, and it was worse with each additional day he was gone because I was even more tired. My mom said she and my dad should have taken us to Hawaii with them! She said I may as well be exhausted on a beach! Next time! :) My mom has taught me a few invaluable lessons from her experiences. When life is crazy, as it is for you right now, let go of perfection and just get through the day. My laundry has piled up on many occasions because of that advice! Never try to solve the problems of the world or change everything about your life when you are tired, things are clearer and not so overwhelming after a good night’s rest, or weeks as the case may be. Once your husband and mom are back, then reevaluate, with their help, they’re on your team! Perhaps make a plan for what to do if a set of circumstances like this arises again.

    Finally, and most importantly, when you feel completely overwhelmed, just recite those wonderful verses God has blessed us with for times such as these.

    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

    “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

    “Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall soar on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

    “Trust the Lord your God with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

    Praying for you and your whole family!

    Jeanne (another Oregonian) :)

  16. Awww Erin! Hang in there old friend. Life can slap you around way too much in a short amount of time. Deep breaths and laughing and a quiet moment outside help me when I’m close to losing it. Simple moments, one at a time.

  17. Erin, I know I haven’t seen you in years, and that your far away, but I can definitely relate, as I have felt like a failure at life, and with my children, on more than one occasion. No matter the distance in the miles, or the relations, know that you are not on an island all by yourself. I think a lot of moms put way too much pressure on themselves with their day-to-day schedules and tasks. One of the biggest reliefs I get is hearing another friend and mom tell me about a frustration they have with their kids or something in their life that isn’t going as planned. This is not to make me feel better because they’re failing, but by knowing I’m not the only one experiencing it on this earth. (It really feels like that sometimes). I just sigh in relief, then reach out to them, then we both feel better! Hang in there. My prayers are with you this week.

  18. Sorry Erin! You have had bummer days!!! Come hang out with me:)

  19. Praying for you. Praying for balance, wisdom, comfort… but most of all that God would speak His love over you and bring you peace.

  20. I think this happens to all of us, it’s just that we don’t all do a good job of admitting it. It’s kind of like when you stub your toe, and then trip, and stumble and end up falling flat on your face. It sets off a chain reaction, you mess up one schedule thing, and that pushes your schedule off over there, and so on and so on. Our lives are so busy and cram packed that we don’t have any wiggle room sometimes and always what ends up being sacrificed is time for ourselves. Time to just sit quietly and catch our breath. I’m sorry things are so non-awesome for you lately Erin, I hope you get to feel caught up again soon!

  21. Erin, I just read your post and am so so sorry!!! I know how you feel and honestly, most days by bedtime feel like I am failing as a mother, wife and most importantly a daughter of Christ. Miraculously, my faith, hope and strength gets renewed. Sometimes it is looking at the big picture, sometimes it is in scripture, sometimes God uses friends and even tools for us (like your blog or books!) to help renew us.You know we can do all things thru Christ who strengthens us, but some days it seems like we can’t. I know you are a wonderful mother, wife and a trophy for God and want to be that friend who can help remind you of that. Here is praying for you, knowing that things will get better and appreciating you sharing your life with us.
    Have a blessed day!!!

  22. Put your feet up… you just have a few prickles… God has some tweezers too. :)

  23. I will pray with you through this. Sometimes we have Jonah days, other times Jonah months. But then it passes. You are doing AWESOMEly. Truly. xo

  24. So Erin- I read your blog and all the wonderful comments that your friends have shared and am reminded of how wonderful it is to rely on others at times like these. If it makes you feel any better, I remember many days when I felt like I failed as your mother. Do you remember the morning when I broke the pans that not 1, not 2, but 3 german pancakes baked in? I had glass and gooey stuff all over my kitchen and sent you all off to school with barely anything in your tummies. I will be home soon and excited to see my family!

  25. Pretty sure I’m right there with you. When you figure it out, let me know.

  26. Erin, I am half of the grandmother babysitting team for my 18 month-old grandson, and I just checked in on your blog after reading about you in The Daily Guideposts. How wonderful is the bond that has grown between you and your readers, one that right now is giving you some support. You are not failing, you are coping. My daughter and son-in-law recently survived a week of sleep-deprived nights while their son had a nasty cold/virus. In the midst of it all, it seemed overwhelming. When it passed, and they were able to get nights of sleep, the memories of that week receded. Sending hugs and prayers to you and your Mom from another Grandmother who sympathizes!


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