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 sharing your words and insight here. I really can’t wait to share this with my daughter so that I can show her how everything that you expressed in writing this, is exactly what and how I feel about my little girl, well she’ll always be my baby girl. I am very grateful to come across your blog, because what you shared is beautiful and simply perfect in how this expresses myself and the way I feel about my child.

  2. So true. It’s my daughter’s birthday today, so I have been extra reflective- this was a great read for this occasion.

  3. This exactly how I feel each night. “I tried… and I love you”. Thank you for these words.

  4. Oh my God that is just out if this world, yet so real for evety mom. You’ve articulated it so beautifully… God Bless you mu dear…. I can read this again & again. A true treasure…Thank you!

  5. I printed this out and put above my daughters desk. These are the words I say to myself all the time and never utter outloud. I lay away last night with a heavy heart knowing my little girl is already 12 and we are talking about what direction to take for college :0!! Seeing this post made me feel like I might be doing something right. Along with this little picture she left for me when she went to school of an eye, a heart and U. Tho we feel like we fail I think out Mothers felt the same way and my Mother is my BEST FRIEND. Thanks for making me feel not so alone!

  6. Absolutely beautiful! Captured the heart of a mama so perfectly! Thank you for writing this.

  7. Oh my, this brought tears to my eyes. All that you’ve said is exactly what I feel but do not know how to put it into words. I’m doing the best that I can to be a good mom and time flies by so quickly that my son has grown from being my little baby to a young man. I am forwarding this to my son and husband. Always tell my son that parents love is unconditional; we will always be there for our children. God bless.

  8. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I had to fight hard to become one…for 10 years. Biological children weren’t in the cards for us and we decided to adopt. Bringing our daughter Kauri home was surreal! And amazing! And terrifying! I had worked so long to become a mom and yet I had no idea if I was doing it right…and still don’t. I try to stay focused on soaking up every moment with her, to be present and truly enjoy her. Yet life can make that goal so difficult at times. This letter spoke to my heart. Thank you!

  9. I was going through a difficult time with my mom and I didn’t understand. She sent me this and it really made me feel better. I love you to mom!

  10. Thank you for this. I was feeling so down on myself today thinking about my daughter and how as an older parent I often don’t have as much energy as I did with my first. I realized that there are areas I really need to focus on better. Number one is letting her know how much I love her and hug and kiss her more, even when I don’t feel like it.

  11. Brought me to tears. Really rang true to my heart. I want to read this to my boys but I know I’ll barely make it through!

  12. Perfection. Nothing else needs to be said. Thank you for writing everything I have ever wanted to say, but didn’t have the words.

  13. My daughter sent me this this afternoon, and all I could do was think of my girls, yes all grown up, 35, 33, four grandchildren, which three of the oldest kids know me but my smallest granddaughter, says to my daughter, when can we go and see your gramma, meaning myself. These beautiful words you’ve been blessed with are incredibly beautiful. Thank you kindly for sharing your Wonderful talents with all of us. God Bless

  14. Your words are a gift from God. All we want to say but didn’t know how. God Bless You!

  15. Beautifully said

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I can relate to the anxiety and depression part. I am mom and battle it too. It makes me feel less alone. Thanks again!

  17. So very well said…tear jerker! Exactly how I feel so much of the time with my lovely boys <3

  18. Jessica Blinkey Avatar
    Jessica Blinkey

    You have taken the thoughts swirling inside my heart from the past 2 weeks and beautifully poured them out in words. Thank you for bringing honest truth to what I would love to say to my 4 year old daughter. I have been repeating the phrase ‘Don’t Miss This’ to myself since April 2016 and it has helped me in so many ways to slow down and be intentional with her and my 18 m.o. son. Grace has also been a key word, grace for myself and grace for them. Life is messy and it is a beautiful journey going together. Thank you for this, I will be saving it to share with them when they are older.

  19. Fab post and so much I could relate to!

  20. That was lovely, and incredible, and touching, and simply amazing. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts.

  21. Absolutely beautiful and absolute truth. Thank you.

  22. My son lost his dad, my husband, at the end of October. I felt this before his passing, but more so now. I worry all the time that I am not the best parent for this, but I try my best. It’s nice to find out there are many parents who feel like I do. Thank you for putting my feelings in to words.

  23. Reblogged this on Twisting Suburbia and commented:
    I didn’t write this, but I wish I did – does that count?

  24. This. So very much this. It’s as if you reached into my heart and pulled out all the words I cannot express.

  25. QuaWanna Bannarbie Avatar
    QuaWanna Bannarbie

    Love this. Thank you for sharing this. Perfect for a Valentine’s Day card to your daughter.

  26. Tabitha Dorantes Avatar
    Tabitha Dorantes

    I couldn’t thank you enough for writing this. It’s beautiful and perfect. I couldn’t read it to my daughters without crying as I dedicated it to them. I have a hard time saying things I need to say or finding the right words to say. So when I came across this and read it, it was everything I’ve ever wanted to say to them. Thank you!

  27. As a mom of four girls ranging in age from 6-17, I remember the abundance of resources that were available for new moms to navigate the emotional/disciplinary/quality of life trials and tribulations associated with parenting….well, up until your child is age 5. Then after your child enters kindergarten, it felt like an abyss, a new scary world which parents may feel left to figure it out on their own. It is so hard to be a good, consistent parent. So much is at stake including your adult relationships and sense of self and joy in this world! One of my biggest concerns is the impact for better or worse of social media on the intellectual and emotional development of our young people. The realistic and appropriate use of electronics, (computers, tablets, cell phones) and the ubiquitous transformation of a cell phone to a near physical appendage that’s occurring among middle and high school kids is alarming. I feel like I am constantly fighting a losing battle. So much energy is expended in my family in attempt to advocate responsible use of technology. It is draining! How’s balancing technology use with living healthy without the Internet going in your family and in other readers families? Your writing hits that sweet spot. Amazing!

  28. Now I know why kids on colleges need …safe spaces…what non sense

  29. Wow u said it all so perfectly and in such a beautiful way. Do u mind if I printed this n framed it?

  30. Tears. So many tears. Beautifully said. Perfect parenting only happens before you actually have children and it is in your imagination!

  31. My youngest, now 34 years old, decided to cut me out of her life a couple of years ago. This article is word for word how I feel.
    I am broken over the loss.

  32. Beautiful, remarkable and just perfect!!!!! This explains my entire heart!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  33. I am so sorry Julie! I can’t imagine what that must be like for your mama heart. Much love…

  34. Thank you Laura! You know, I haven’t quite reached that stage with my kids yet, although it is definitely a concern of mine! I’ll have to think more about that…

  35. This blesses my heart, thank you

  36. Cindy I am SO sorry for your loss. Yes, you are not alone in your feelings!

  37. Love this 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  38. That is really awesome, thanks for sharing!

  39. I’m honored Celeste!

  40. I’m sorry, not sure what you’re trying to say here.

  41. My boy is only 17 months but I feel this way sometimes. Thank you for writing/ sharing this.

  42. Bless you for your words, saying what our heart knows. My son is 27 years old & I sent this to him. He loved it. Thank you……… Judy Denton, La Vergne, Tn.

  43. Thank you for putting in words all my everyday feelings because I couldn’t in a million years express this exactly what I feel every single day and when I look at my amazing son

  44. […] We don’t always get it right, and that’s OK. Amen. […]

  45. Wow that was beautiful ❤️

  46. You hv capured the essence of momma luv. Beautifully written. Touching, real and true. Children are a blessing and teach us so much about what’s important, LOVE.
    Thanks for the share n strum on my heart strings.

  47. […] Dear Kids, When I fail… […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: