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 responses to “Dear Kids, When I fail…”

  1. Thank you for speaking my heart!

  2. Perfection….I just love this 💖

  3. This is so perfect. I too confuse when they’re hurting and when they’re cranky. It’s not easy to spot. But no matter, we always love them, always will.

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart and helping me and others feel we are not alone! You totally expressed
    my heart!

  5. Thanks Fay, it makes me feel not alone too!

  6. My God, I’m in tears. This is everything I feel and fear, all beautifully encapsulated in this letter.

  7. This was beautiful, kind of reminded me of the love you forever by Robert Munsch!

  8. Cheryl, it’s always so humbling and eye opening to realize I’m not alone in how I feel! Thank you for sharing!

  9. This is beautiful, and one of the truest things I’ve read lately about what it’s like to be a parent raising little people. Thank you💖

  10. Corymar Cordero Avatar
    Corymar Cordero

    WOW! It’s how I feel everyday! <3 Thank you Stay blessed

  11. Feeling this way every day! Thank you for putting words to what so many moms go through.

  12. Dads definitely feel this way also. Very well said. I need to convey this to my daughters & son. Thanks

  13. […] Source: Dear Kids, When I fail… […]

  14. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  15. I love this!! Thank you!!!

  16. Wonderful!Thank you so much! I will share this with my husband. This is exactly how we feel.

  17. This is lovely. A heartfelt open letter. I have shared it to my FB page. Thank you for sharing!

  18. Oh how I LOVE THIS. My eyes are filled with tears. I myself have noticed my two boys’ faces changing in the last month or so. Thank you for this…..❤

  19. This brought tears to my eyes! I love it, exactly how I feel!

  20. Katie Rieffenberger Avatar
    Katie Rieffenberger

    This is my journey with parenting and with a 4th on the way, I’m terrified that I’m always going to be letting one of them down because that’s how it often feels and there’s only one me to go around. Thank you for helping me to put words to my feelings and fears and to encourage me as well 🙂

  21. You have put into words what my heart feels! Thank you

  22. Both of my girls are moving out this month. This is a gut wrenching time. All my ‘failed’, missed moments haunt me. It all went by so fast, and I don’t know how I got here. And it’s gone. There’s a lump in my throat as I choke back the tears. Thank you for sharing your heart. Hope you don’t mind a share, sending to each of my girls. Blessings!

  23. Wow, I felt every single word.

  24. This is really beautiful. Every night I kiss my little ones and feel so much love for them and like a video rewinding highlight all the moments I was less than the mom I wanted to be that day! Thank you for pointing out I am not the only parent who feels this way.

  25. James Sandstrom Avatar
    James Sandstrom

    to all the moms who feel this way, from somebody’s son…

    (because, now that im looking back at age 51, i tell this to MY mom, when she despairs of this:)

    “ma!” (moms!) “please dont worry yourself about it one bit – you did GREAT!!! i turned out just fine. any minor loss of patience you may have had over the years is VASTLY ECLIPSED by your tireless devotion. (and im sure i did many things to deserve your impatience!) when i think of growing up as your son, i smile!”

    so moms, i get what you’re saying. but please, keep an eye on how youre doing OVERALL. dont worry – you all are doing GREAT!

  26. Tears, love! I have felt every.single.word!
    Thank you for saying it for me❤

  27. Thank you for sharing, you have put a lump in my throat and many tears in my eyes. You have said exactly what my hewrt feels .

  28. I agree with all the other comments. It couldnt have been written more perfectly. This is exactly how I feel.

  29. My oldest is graduating from high school this year, and I want to print this and hang it on my wall because it so perfectly describes what I feel almost every day. I make the same stupid mistakes over and over again. Sometimes, I worry that my kids will grow up and remember me by my mistakes – that they will forget about all of the times that I succeeded in being wonderful, even for a moment. But, you know, the older I get, the more I realize that life isn’t about being perfect and it is OK for my kids to see me as me, however weak I may be. I choose to believe that my kids will remember that I showed up – that I tried – that I loved them amidst our crazy, messy lives. Thank you for so eloquently reminding me of that.

  30. Carly, exactly! Knowing I’m not the only one is so powerful!

  31. […] That was so beautifully written by Wonder Oak. Check out her page for more inspirational posts. […]

  32. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!I cannot stop my tears!!This is exactly how I feel but could not find the words!!Thank you!!❤

  33. Wow! My thoughts your words. I’m so glad someone shared this post with me at this exact moment.

  34. What a wonderful and eloquent way to express what so many moms must feel. one of my most treasured reads from now on. Thank you for seeing into my heart.

  35. THANK YOU!!! sending this to my daughter tomorrow on her 18th birthday!! This conveys everything!!!

  36. This is so true for most of us. I am a grandma now of 12, but I love looking back at the times when my kids were young, now they have their own children, some look, act, sound like they did, what a blessing to me to be able to relive some of those moments! For the most part parents continue to do their best with what they have, and the time they have to do it in, God bless parents!

  37. My kids are all grown up now. I wish I could have read this when they were all little. It might’ve helped me not miss it quite so much and forgiven myself more when I did.

  38. Read this in a packed train in the morning and I shed my tears like nobody’s business.
    Gosh at times (by at times I mean all the time) I fee like a total failure.
    And I hate it when I let it out to my girls who means so so much to me than the things that are bothering me (work, chores, and what not).
    Thank you for this.
    Thank you xoxo

  39. WOW – this is pure magic and defines the thoughts of every proud and good mother. I super love this xxxxxx

  40. Spoken from the heart, a mothers love is a bond that cannot be broken and the older you get, the strong the bond gets.

  41. Thats AMAZING.. It was Like i was saying it.. I forwarded it to my 17 year daughter .. She was in tears after reading it… Wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me more aware of myself .. speaking my mind for me . Thank you. God Bless. !!

  42. This is perfect. Very eloquent and reflects exactly how I feel. Thanks for sharing it.

  43. This is so beautiful.. one of the most honest, beautiful things I have read on the internet in quite some time.

  44. A friend of mine passed this along to me and WOW!! This was ABSOLUTELY beautifully written. I will be sharing this with other parents who I think will love it…xo words can’t express how much I loved this …really on a soulful level..Thank you so much.

  45. Humbled. I’ve always wished I had those exact words for my daughter. Now, I do.

    I can never thank you enough.

  46. I loved this post. It really spoke to me this morning as my 21 year old son heads off from our home in Canada to Ireland for his last semester of his business degree. I am feeling emotional about my two sons having grown up so fast. I am so proud of both of them and that they survived me being their mother in all its messiness. I was sometimes great at it and often flunked out miserably making lots of mistakes but they still put up with me. They are the best! SNIFF! Thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t express.

  47. Absolutely perfect!!! In tears…just beautiful.

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