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. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Reluctant Disciple and commented:
    This is one that falls under the “I didn’t write this but I wish I had” category. Poignant, gets you in the heart, and uses the words we think every day from the day they are born but don’t always say, or know how to say.

  2. This is beautiful. I reblogged it with the added caveat “I wish I’d written it” lol
    By the way, I love the look of your page also! What WP template did you use? Thanks so much 🙂

  3. Your self-awareness is magical. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a sensitive, loving, and reflective mama. Tears in my coffee up in hurrrr!

  4. I feel like this was very meanigful and just makes my day everytime i read it

  5. I love you mom

  6. Shannon Cheston Avatar
    Shannon Cheston

    It’s like you could read my heart and put words to everything I was thinking.

  7. Thanks! I use Paulie 🙂

  8. Jennifer Phillips Avatar
    Jennifer Phillips

    This is perfect in so many ways. I have been fighting some major demons these past few weeks and I am sure my girls are worried and not sure what is wrong with Momma. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this. Exactly how I feel but never could put into words.

  9. I have a friend who had a melt down while she was raising her kids (they’re grown now), she always felt a bit guilty about that period of time because she was sure her kids suffered. A couple years ago she asked them if they remembered it and they said, “Oh yeah! That was awesome, we watched a lot of TV!” I always think back on that when I’m going through a particular rough patch. Carry on Mama!

  10. Wow! Absolutely beautiful. My heart was just written out loud in the hands of a stranger. You made my feelings towards my son visible through this blog, thank you for sharing this.

  11. Beautiful heartfelt writing. I hope you also verbally told your kids.

  12. Marie it was like reading something you wrote because that was written I could hear from your lips! You are truly a wonderful loving mother. I’m very proud of the loving way you are raising my precious grandchildren! That’s why I love you so much!

  13. This could be written from Dads as well.

  14. Dear Wonderoak/wonderful writer, thank you so much for your honest, heartfelt, funny and completely relatable writing. This article, and the the many others I have now been binge reading tonight, have made me feel a lot less alone in my struggles as a mother and very much encouraged. THANK YOU. I will continue to follow your blog.

  15. Lovely!! Very well said …. Thank you! **

  16. Ramona Freeman Martin Avatar
    Ramona Freeman Martin

    I know this is words of a mother but I also think this is for every parent as a mother and a father we strive everyday to be the best we can for our children…We get lost in daily struggles with work and home that sometimes we all do lose a connection at times. Alot of us mom’s and dad’s can relate to this

  17. You just put my thoughts into words so much more beautifully than I could have. Thank you!

  18. Love love love this!! You have said everything I feel about my son perfectly 🙂 Thank you for sharing this with us.

  19. I have spent the day reflecting on my failings (many of them I hasten to add) and reading this makes me cry but I also thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. It’s a gift. Thank you.

  20. And here I was thinking I was the only one who felt this way. Thank you for the reminder that we arent alone in this and it is ok if we aren’t perfect. A wonderful post.

  21. Your thoughts and feelings are most definitely shared by many a mommy. It hit home with my daughter’s mother and i thought that she and all the other wonderful mommys out there should know this:

    Dear Mommy,
    Thank you for your letter. Although I can’t truly understand what you feel, remember this: No matter what, you are my loving mommy and nothing can change that.

    Each day I wake up to you (except for sleepovers at Aunt Dina’s  ) and face the day with you as my mentor. It is you who teaches me what to do every day.

    I am getting older and with that comes new and exciting things that I will share with you.

    Time races in life and it’s easy to question whether you’ve missed out on things, slept through the magic, enjoyed our time together, or given me all I need. Life can seem like a bubble at times and these thoughts will appear when you take the time to step aside and try and look in. But that’s ok, its our lil bubble!

    You’ve given me everything I need in life to be a good caring person. My little heart is indeed whole and it only grows bigger and stronger with you. My spirit cannot be broken because I have you!

    Although I am only 5 I know that being a mommy is hard. I know when you are tired, sick, or something isn’t going your way. And that’s ok mommy because its part of life. I know because you share your feelings with me and teach me to do the same.

    You teach me right and wrong. Although I may not like it, I accept it because that’s what mommys do.

    You laugh and smile with me more than you realize from early in the morning to just before bedtime. Mommys are only human and can’t be perfect all the time. Nobody is.

    It is YOU mommy who makes me good, mighty, gentle, kind, vivacious and fierce because you’ve taught how to be all those things. I see all those things in YOU mommy, every day.

    I am and will always be your biggest cheerleader too. We are a team and that’s what we do. We cheer for each other always. We cheer for each other when we get things right and when we make mistakes.

    You, mommy, are my treasure too! Our lives together are just that…..TOGETHER. Mommy and me.

    We will forever learn from one another and try to be the best we both can be. And I too am always and forever yours.


  22. When you feel like an alien put on planet earth that has twins and a baby all under 2 and a half.. Then you read these words and you instantly no longer feel alone and misunderstood.
    Most complex job in the world, yet I love it.
    Being a Mamma, thank you for this. Xxx

  23. Cassidy Johnson Avatar
    Cassidy Johnson

    I can’t stop reading this. I feel like you plucked it right from my thoughts. Brings me to tears every time. XOXO

  24. This is the best thing I have read in a long time. So beautiful and so eloquently puts into words how I feel about my son. Thank you for sharing!

  25. Katie Humphries Avatar
    Katie Humphries

    “You are my treasure, you are my reason.”

    That is so beautiful and completely captures the way I feel about my children. Thank you.

  26. Lynda Mcaughtrie Avatar
    Lynda Mcaughtrie

    What a beautiful letter the words touched my heart to write something like that is so true for many a mothers thoughts towards her children, the feelings she has for them and the mistakes she has made yet her love for them has never faltered.
    I am in my 70s and it put a tear in my eye we have all been there but come through good in the end and so have the children.

  27. Love this! Beautiful!!

  28. I needed this today. I couldn’t have put it to words better myself. One day I’ll have to show my daughter this so that she knows I didn’t write it, but this is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you for sharing.

  29. I texted this to my 13 year old daughter… I wish I had written it. It’s perfect and exactly what I wanted to say and what she needed to hear. Thank You.❤️

  30. A dear friend sent me the link to your blog after I experienced a particularly difficult day with my son. Your words resonated deeply. Thank you!

    A book that I have been “reading” has been, and continues to be, a great source of wisdom, comfort and guidance (I’m on my sixth audio book listen). I highly recommend Eckhart Tolle’s life-enhancing book “A New Earth” to any parent looking to improve their relationship with their child, others, and themselves. He has a section on parenting that talks about how we, as parents, neglect/forget to relate to our children at the level of being, getting caught up instead in our parent role. Complete role identification causes inauthenticity in the relationship leading to hidden anger and resentment, that then gets manifested in the form of undesirable behavior. Re-listening to that section helped me do a mental reset. One of my favorite quotes from this section is “You are a human being. What does that mean? Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being.”

    Your words embody that balance, and exemplifies an authenticity we all need to have with our children. Thank you for inspiring and reminding us on how we can relate at the level of being, and experience a deeply joyful, meaningful, relationship with our children.

  31. Thank you so much for this post. We are all so busy with our lives that sometimes we forget to stop and look at our children and how amazing they are. I have seven children ages 22-2 and my love for them overwhelms me.

  32. I love it beautiful this is coming from a daughters point of view my mom sent this to me

    Thanks mom I love you too

  33. I just got done reading I fail. Amazing you were able to put my thoughts into words, you couldn’t if done any better. I appreciate you writing this that is how I have felt raising my kids and thank you for helping me express this to my kids. Thank you, your amazing

  34. That’s so sweet and over flowing with love.

  35. The exact definition of who I am and what I’ve become of having a “beautiful daughter”…thank you for inspiring all momma 😉

  36. My children are adults with children of their own. Your words still apply to past mistakes. Thank you

  37. […] I read a post that was circulating around on Facebook from the amazing Jess over at “wonderoak”. I was so touched by her post that I instantly began indulging all my free time reading all her […]

  38. Thank you so much for writting this besutiful letter, you made me know I am not the only One feeling like this and helped me explain this to my children using your inspiring words. Mi Little eleven years old cried, hugged me and kissed me after reading it.

  39. I’m going to read this to my boys and explain that this is EXACTLY how I feel! Thank you for putting in such beautiful words, the feelings many of us don’t know how to express!

  40. Such a beautifully written post and described exactly how i feel so often x

  41. Very moving, very accurate…my exact feelings in words, thank you!

  42. kristin ertzinger Avatar
    kristin ertzinger

    Holy crap … right in the feels!!!! I want to read this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Thank you for saying what is in this fiercely loving and imperfect mommy’s heart!!

  43. oh my goodness. you made me cry. this is totally how i am feeling everyday right now. beautiful words. thank you.


    Beautiful, I could not stop crying thank you for expressing your words and sharing them with us.

  45. Doctor with Needles Avatar
    Doctor with Needles

    This is so wonderful. I wish all parents are like you then perhaps we wouldn’t see so may runaway kids or abuse cases…

  46. So true 💞
    After Reading this article whoever I forwarded to all my friends cousins either cried or said seems like it’s my story

    And it’s true it seems like the story of all those Mum’s
    Unconditional love 😍
    Very touching article.

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