Why You are NOT Failing as a Mama

Dear Mama,

I see you came here last night after Google led you to one post or another of mine. I see you on the forums sobbing and wondering why your body has failed your baby. I  hear you as you wonder if maybe someone else should be raising your child because in a moment of frustration you raised your voice at your baby. I see that you’re wondering if you are failing your baby by not training them to sleep by having them Cry It Out at three or six or nine months. I see that you are wondering if you have ruined your child because he will not sleep through the night at one year old while teething.

I don’t know you, but I wish desperately right now that I could wrap you up in a hug. I wish that I could say “Is that all? Oh jeez, mama. You’re not failing. You’re doing WONDERFULLY.” and I wish that I could have a long conversation with you where I could share some perspective, some resources, some hope.

You are not failing your baby.


Don’t ask the question “How can I deal with failing this way?” You are not failing. You do not need to cry your way through failure or make peace with “having failed”.

You need to connect with others similar to you, whose hearts tell them the same things that your heart tells you. Others who have been through what you are going through, not others who claim that parenthood is this perfect seamless easy thing that can be sanitized and wrapped up neatly and tied off with a piece of brightly colored string.

Find your tribe.

If you are “failing” at breastfeeding, seek out active zealous breastfeeding support groups. You may be making TOO much milk. Your baby might have a tongue tie that has gone undiagnosed. Your baby may have a sensitivity to something in your diet that can be changed. Your friend who feeds her baby X number of ounces of breastmilk each day may have serious oversupply and might be overfeeding with a bottle. Your baby might have a perfectly normal dip in weight that his pediatrician may not understand because every perfectly normal baby that he sees that dips in weight ends up supplemented as a matter of course rather than watching the weight to see if it forms a trend. Come to the Breastfeeding Moms Group on Cafemom. I’m a moderator over there and there are a LOT of very wonderful helpful moms that can help you make things work or help you find the peace that you so deserve. If Cafemom isn’t your thing check out r/breastfeeding on Reddit.

If you are “failing” because you had a tantrum and yelled or lashed out.. You understand that yelling is not how you want to parent your little one. You are not “failing”, you were overwhelmed and did not know how else to act in that moment of overwhelm.  YOU NEED SUPPORT, not an indictment. You need to learn new ways to cope, new ways to view the situation, new ways to find support. Please reach out to me and I can help you find some resources. Failure comes from trying to do it alone when what you’re doing alone is not working.

If you are “failing” with sleep because your six month old won’t sleep through the night then I’m failing right alongside you. What’s more, I “failed” with my older two children.. Nevermind the fact that they both sleep so very well now.  Come join us in the “Wait it Out” support group where we gently and lovingly teach our children to sleep without crying anything out.  We can offer you perspective, coping mechanisms, tales of hope and inspiration, suggestions, and understanding where others have only offered you guilt and false prophecy of failure.

Failure looks like neglect, not like love. Like children who are not cared for, not loved, not nurtured. Failure does not look like a mistake. Failure is not a medical condition, failure is not needing to seek help and support, failure is not “doing things differently than how you wanted”. Failure does not take its form in your child’s unique personality or needs.

Chances are so very good that you are not “failing”, you are being failed. Your current system of support is failing you.

Find your tribe. Find those moms that have been where you are now. Find all those different options to explore.

When you’ve done the legwork and know the options and have tried the ones that are try-able, then you walk away having made choices not having “failed”.

You are not a failure. You’re a mother. You are strong. You love deeply. And very few mothers are ever one hundred percent of everything that they wanted to be.

Seek knowledge. Know your options. Embrace support. Find your tribe. Above all, though, know that a loving choice made with the knowledge that you have at the time.. Is never a wrong choice. Be gentle with yourself.

<3 Sarah

18 thoughts on “Why You are NOT Failing as a Mama

    1. *hug* Don’t cry in silence when there are people willing to listen. If you need someone to talk to, feel free to contact me directly (sarah – at – momtomommedia -dot- com I can’t type the actual address in because if I do I’ll get a ton of spam. :)) . Maybe I can help you find your tribe.

  1. Thank you so much for this post! It came at a time when I’m wondering IF/when I should start trying to get my under 4 month old baby to fall asleep on her own i.e to self-soothe as seems to be the popular word. Even though I know many adults who cannot even “self-soothe”. She sleeps well-ish at night but for naps she sleeps better and longer if she’s sleeping on me or if I’m lying down with her. I LOVE the closeness that this gives me/us and I love to watch her as she sleeps and as she wakes. However, it’s getting tough at times to steady myself against the barrage of parents who say “I put her/him down just as he’s getting tired and she/he falls asleep – at least within 15 minutes. With some grizzling, but not a lot.” This doesn’t seem to be the case for my little one who is nursed to sleep for all sleeps and naps. Then I read about people who have tried AP and talk about their difficulties with baby sleeping later on. And, oh, all the info about bad sleep associations like nursing and holding baby. It is a mine field!! I have sent a request to join the Wait it Out support group and I hope I’m accepted – I need a reminder of why I chose the path I have, because I am currently not surrounded by too many people of a similar ‘tribe’ …. Your words are a great comfort, thank you.

  2. this is SUCH a powerful message, thank you. thank you thank you thank you. as mamas, we need validation that we are doing a good job and not failing. may i please share this on my facebook? i am part of a La Leche League group (leader in training) and this would touch so many hearts.

    1. Please do share it on your facebook Caitlin. :) And that’s awesome that you’re working towards becoming a LLL leader. You’ll be able to give many moms hands-on help.

  3. Thank you so much,I needed this today! I am a stay at home mom who had to leave my 6 month old yesterday for 8 hours bc of a one day camp I had to run. This is by far the longest i have had to leave her. I came home to a baby who had screamed herself to sleep and a hubby who, out of exhaustion and frustration,told me that we can’t raise our next child like this. I went to bed with my little one feeling like an absolute failure and that I had messed up my child by making her so dependent on me. Thank you fit writing this, the timing could not be any more .

    1. Marcy,

      You didn’t “make her dependent”. Children are dependent. She simply needs to learn that she can and should be able to depend on her daddy as well as on you. My partner and I are on the same page with parenting. He works long hours and so she mostly sees him for an hour or so at night (when he doesn’t have overtime) and on weekends. There are some things that he does specifically to build his relationship with her, and some things that I do to build her relationship with him.

      When the feeling is “YOU ARE RUINING OUR CHILD”, there’s a lot of tension and the child can pick up on it and it makes them tense. It sounds like it might be a good conversation to have with your husband about parenting goals, how you both want to achieve them, etc. Since it sounds like you’re coming from two different mentalities it might be a tense conversation in the beginning but if you both approach it with love and understanding then it can strengthen your relationships with each other and with your daughter.

  4. I needed this today especially. We’ve committed to WIO but I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong because my son was up every 15 minutes between 3 and 6:30am when I finally got us up. I want so badly to do right by him and I struggle with feeling like a failure and like I can’t help him. It makes it hard to be confident in our parenting choice but it’s refreshing to know I’m not in it on my own. Thanks for supporting all the mommas out there (and me)!

    1. Ashleyanne,

      There are going to be MANY things that we cannot force our children to do as they grow. Sleep is one of those first things. When you are providing an environment that supports sleep, try and recognize what your child needs or why your child is acting a certain way, etc… your child will sleep eventually.

      Over in the WIO group we talk about different reasons why babies might be acting a certain way. Growth spurts, milestones, etc. Finding perspective and understanding the place our children are in the moment helps us to help them to succeed at getting what they need, and helps us come up with coping strategies for when it gets rough for us.

      When our child’s behavior becomes our success or failure, it’s a breakdown of boundaries. It’s actually called “enmeshment” and isn’t a good thing. It helps me to remind myself of this when a battle of wills seems imminent. I’m a provider of support, I meet needs, I am a caretaker, and I am responsible for helping my children discover how to navigate life. I do not need to “make” my babies sleep in order to “succeed”. I am a success when I have created a healthy positive sleep environment and when I have met my baby’s needs while she is developing HER ability to sleep independently and through the night.

      Keeps us all healthy and happy to remember that. :)


  5. Thank you for this! I’m struggling with balancing the needs of our two year old and our one month old. Between struggles with breastfeeding, trying to spend quality time with our older child, reestablishing an in-person relationship with my husband (he took a job in a new city and it took a while for me to get a job and join him), and keeping our house functioning in general, I have moments where I feel like I’m failing all of them. I needed the reminder that I’m not failing–I’m human and doing the best I can do is enough.

    1. Ashley,

      You’re load balancing!

      Going from one child to two is ROUGH! It’s a split of attention that didn’t exist before, and you’re probably dealing with sibling jealousy, not having enough arms or legs. (Don’t worry. You’ll grow more. 😉 ) I have a six year old, a 2.5 year old and a ten month old and it’s easier for me than it was when I just had a 3.5 year old and a newborn. You’re dealing with a LOT. Be gentle with yourself. You’re learning.


  6. What a beautiful message for parents. As a mother of an 8wk old prem, who has experienced a ridiculous amount of bfding troubles and is hitting a wall I know your blog will help me!

    How can I add this blog to my email account so I don’t miss a post?


    1. Hi Jade–

      I see you found me on Facebook. :) I’m glad to see you there.

      If you look on the “sidebar” (which is on the right side of the site) and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the sidebars you’ll see a “Subscribe to Blog via Email” option. :)

  7. Loved this post! I don’t think I couldn’t have made through those first few months with my son who was, as people would call it, “a high-needs, demanding baby” without my tribe- like my mother who is a big advocate of co-sleeping and breast-feeding and a good college friend who had also had a “demanding” first baby. Having a baby for me was hard just because I had the wrong expectations and compared my son to the other “angel” babies as some books would call term it as well. As a result, it’s soo crucial for moms to follow the above advice and tips! It made all the difference :) Thank you!

  8. I think I need to read this every day. So glad I found this blog and this post especially. That is exactly what I was saying to myself this morning as I cried and my 7 month old cried as I was trying to get him back to sleep for his nap. I cannot thank you enough. I requested to join the WIO support group too :)

    1. I’ll see you in the WIO group! :) I just approved your request to join. (Along with a bunch of others) Have patience with us, as our group has just grown from about 700 to over 800 members in a day and it’s the most explosive growth period since the group was first founded.

  9. Stumbled across your post while dealing with a high needs 5 month old and a very understanding almost 5 year old. Feeling terrible for raising my voice at both over the last day, not getting much sleep, and feeling like I’m just surviving with them, rather than living a life with them. Failure is definitely something I feel a LOT of. It feels impossible at times.
    I have no tribe. Single parent, no family support, very little friend support. Just me and my beautiful girls. I keep going for them. X

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