Dear Kids, When I fail…

Dear kids,

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?

I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.

Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.

Everyday I make mistakes.

Sometimes I snap when I should be sensitive. Sometimes I lecture and give chores when what you needed was a hug. Sometimes I completely and utterly miss it. I know that I do. I mistake your pain for complaining or your sad heart for a bad attitude. I watch myself miss it, and later I grieve that I didn’t respond differently.

I miss it when I am tired, and you get my leftovers at the end of a long day. I wish that you didn’t, but sometimes you do.

I miss it when I am scared. I am scared of big things and little things. I really thought adults had it all figured out, but I am one now, and it turns out we don’t. Sometimes fear snatches my heart and I can’t seem to think of anything else. I forget to relax and to enjoy you. I forget to smile and to laugh. I’m working on that.

I miss it when I am lost. I’m struggling with my own demons and it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes it’s anxiety or it’s depression, but it’s never, ever your fault. I will keep striving for wholeness so that when you reach those obstacles I can help you do the same.

I know that it is easy to hang on to the negative things and forget all the positive, but I want to set the record straight. When I look at you I am SO. PROUD. When I look at you I see good. I see someone who is mighty. I wonder how I have been trusted with such a treasure. Your heart is pure and soft. You are gentle and kind, you are vivacious and fierce.

I am forever your biggest cheerleader and your greatest fan.


Please keep helping me to see you and to know you. Keep telling me when I hurt your feelings. Keep sharing with me your fears and your insecurities and we will figure it out together.

I’m okay with making mistakes, but I’m never okay with losing your heart. Your heart is what matters to me.

I hope that my weakness teaches you something. I hope that when you come upon your own brokenness, tiredness, fear, and confusion, that you will be okay with it. I pray that your imperfections won’t scare you as they have me. I pray that you won’t run from them, but that you’ll wrestle with them and you will keep showing up, saying sorry, and trying again.

We don’t always get it right and that’s okay.

We are all professional mistake makers, and you will make lots and lots of mistakes. You will make countless amounts of mistakes, just like I have, but not one could darken the light I see when I look at you. You are my treasure, you are my reason.

Even though life is racing by, sometimes we have a moment. Sometimes we can reach out, grab time, and hold it. The world stops, all is quiet, and we really see each other. In this moment when I glimpse the person you are and who you’re becoming, all I can think is…


On this morning, where it seems you’ve grown overnight, I want to tell you that you are wonderful. You amaze me everyday – and as I watch you, you inspire me. You inspire me to pull out the greatness that’s inside me. In this family we will make mistakes, but we will keep doing it together and we will keep holding each other other tight.

It turns out I’m never, ever, going to be perfect, but I am always and forever yours, and I’m always and forever on your team. That I can promise you.

I love you.



Written by Jess Johnston

If you love this, you may love my new nationally best selling book “I’ll Be There (But I’ll Be Wearing Sweatpants)”

188 thoughts on “Dear Kids, When I fail…

  1. Pingback: Great read! | Crunchy Mommy Site

  2. Amy Collett

    That’s just it … you nailed it! I want to say this to my kids every day, forever, thank you xx

  3. Sanije Berani

    I my God this should be on every mothers wall , this is how I feel and I try but I always think I couldv done better

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  5. Janet Raynor

    I love this essay so much. I saved it, and read it aloud, tears streaming, to my almost -13 year old daughter, who is both my biggest challenge and my greatest source of strength and pride.

    Thank you for these perfect words.

  6. Rose

    So beautiful and so true. I cried reading it. Thank you for writing these words that are sometimes so hard to express.

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  9. Sonia Wyld

    My kids are older, 24, 19 and very nearly 17 but this is still so true. I had tears building as I read it. Beautifully said, and thank you for making me feel not alone

  10. Reg colefax

    That is beautifully put the thoughts of every parent especially single parents who are struggling to keep every thing together .

  11. Linda schippers Higgins

    Even as a mother of 47 years I still continue to put my foot in my mouth, still burn dinner, still forget to separate whites from colors, still whites pink, still cry when I look into my baby’s eyes and she is 47, still cry at my great grandsons toothless snow, still cry at my husband’s tender hugs and smooches, always wonder what tomorrow will bring and always grateful when I wake in the morning. Being a wife and mother is all I ever wanted to be.

  12. Anue Nue

    “This is a very beautifully written letter from a mom to her children that I hope helps shake the psychology profession as a whole out of it’s prolonged adolescence. Because it’s going to take a whole lot more than asking our children to understand and accept our human imperfections, as we do theirs We can’t very well keep pointing our fingers back at past generations of parents identifying, isolating, magnifying and measuring past parenting practices and mistakes through the lens of new knowledge, and not expect our own kids to grow up and also focus their attention on all the ways their parents screwed them up. Unfortunately, unless things change dramatically by way of the psychology professions decades long obsession with blaming parents for everything wrong in an adult child’s life, no matter what you tell them while they are young, when the children grow up they won’t have any difficulty finding a therapist to make an arm chair diagnosis of all your parenting mistakes and/or label you as “toxic”.” ~Anue Nue

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  14. Brenda Shaw

    So true As I raise my granddaughter I like to think I will make fewer mistakes this time but maybe not. I have certainly learned to enjoy our time together more, before it slips away. A second chance is a gift. Along similar lines, I also bought a homemade card recently that said “Little boys should never be put to bed, they wake up a day older!” I am squeezing the most out of every day with my grandchildren and other family members.

  15. Kathy Perrault

    One of my daughters put your article on Facebook and ofcourse I had to read. Anue Nue,I love what you wrote— could have been my words. I am hurt almost every day with remarks or not answering phone— very disrespectful and it makes me sad. This is a new age and not sure I like this!

  16. jolly

    This is incredible. Thank you for writing it. I think it says what so many moms don’t know how to say as we sit there watching our kids in absolute and complete amazement at how they are ours; treasures as you say. So nice.

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  19. Tasha

    I absolutely love this it makes me feel like I am not alone when I feel all these worries so thank you x

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