I had a morning like that today.
One where I dropped the kids off at school, just about managed to say hello to a passing mum while I held myself together, and then came home and wept.
When did you last have a moment when all you could see were your failings as a mother?
You are not alone.
Those moments don't seem to happen so often now, but they still happen.
This morning started well, with happy kids making their own porridge, a little dance-off to Everything is Awesome, and we were all on track to leave on time.
But as my son waited at the door, it became clear that my daughter was struggling - with her tights, with discomfort, with worry, with fear.
Her emotions had been building up for a while, and I'd been too busy washing up and getting myself ready, to pay enough attention to them.
In a rush to leave, worrying myself, frustrated, I reacted badly.
I got cross as a result of my own fear and shame.
And she hates it when I get cross. It doesn't happen very often - so when it does, it scares her.
I guess it's a bit like the moments from my childhood when my super-calm dad swore, and I was so shocked that I can remember each of the 3 times it ever happened...! (I get cross more frequently than that...!)
But this morning, even once I'd managed to pull myself together and returned to being calm and positive, it was too late.
I sent my son on ahead so that I could concentrate on what she needed, but my attempts to try to help her feel better didn't work.
The events made her late for school, and so instead of our usual handover to her teacher in the playground, I had to walk her into class, crying (her, not me at this point!) in the middle of the morning's spelling test.
She wouldn't let go of me. The teacher was distracted by spellings, the class were watching, concerned... and I didn't know what to do.
Eventually, I managed to say goodbye, and raced home to cry my own tears in private.
Yes. Even though I support other mothers, really well, all that I've learnt can't protect me from moments like this.
Fortunately, I've practiced the ability to respond to myself with compassion, eventually...
So this morning, I let myself cry. I let myself feel all the horrible feelings. I gave myself coffee. I heated myself up a heat pack for my aching back.
I texted my husband for a hug (he's away working, so a texted hug is the best I can get).
And then I tried to talk to myself as I would to a friend, or another mama in need. As if these events had happened to someone else.
It sounds so simple, but of course, it isn't as easy as all that.
So I let myself cry some more... (I'm really good at crying...!) And eventually, I was able to remind myself that we all make mistakes.
That we all feel shame, and fear, and anger. That these hard emotions are all part of life. And we can't always manage these feelings successfully. Nobody can.
Our struggle with those emotions is also a big part of what connects us all. It connects me to my daughter, to you - it connects me at the root of my deepest humanity to others with whom I seem to have nothing else in common.
Then, I reassured myself that it's OK to take time to get myself ready. To take time for me. I can't be there for them every moment of the day, and it wouldn't be good for them if I was.
I reminded myself, again, and again, that my daughter knows that she is deeply loved.
(If she can find a heart in a burnt pancake, and delight in showing it to me when she does, she's probably doing OK...!)
After school, I can hold her. I can explain and apologise. I can reassure her of her worth, and help her to find a way forward.
We can both learn from this morning, and that will help us to move through with greater ease and grace next time. And I know that's true - because I have done that so many times before. We can always find a way forward.
And yes, a way forward will bring more mistakes, more pain, more struggle, of course, but we are always moving forward.
This is resilience. This is hope. This is love.
And so now - another important question:
When did you last have a moment when all you could see was your successes as a mother?
Because we need more of those!
Make a list of at least five mothering successes from today. Doing this also helped me make that shift this morning too. You might even find it easier than you think once you get started...
In case you need some inspiration, here's mine:
1. Got the kids up out of bed with cuddles
2. Got them both in the bath/shower, on time, relatively happy.
3. Prevented several sibling spats from turning into anything more serious
4. Got them both fed, on 'healthy' porridge
5. Remembered to spray their hair with tea-tree before leaving the house (hopefully to ward off the dreaded nits...)
6. Made sure they remembered homework and book-bags.
7. Had a fun dance around the house
8. Did my daughter's hair
9. Encouraged my son to wash his face (most day, he heads off to school with an extra layer of face made of toothpaste...)
10. Gave them both hugs and told them I love them.
And how is this not-so-crap mum doing now...?
Well, so far I've resisted the urge to call up school and see how she is. I really want to know. And yet, there is also that calm quiet voice within me that knows she is entirely fine. And I am choosing to listen to that one.
I hope you can too.
What's coming up in May?
Wednesday 17 May (NEW DATE!) - #somum Mamas' Retreat in Mamas' Everyday Retreat, our private facebook group (simply request to join if you haven't already)
Sunday 21 May - Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat in Penzance, Cornwall - tickets now on sale!
I'm also starting work with Jan Armstrong as the two coaches supporting parents and other carers through Raising Films' scheme, Closr, and very excited about that!
You are enough - crap mum days included.
As always, sending you much resilience, hope and love
Pippa and Penny
PS. Come join us in May! Tickets now on sale!