Failure Can Be So Important.
I hope that you fail spectacularly.
I am your mother, and it might seem odd for me to say so.
But failure is important. I love you too much to let you think that your life will always be easy. I would not be doing my job if I did not help you prepare for consequences and frustration, and let you learn on your own how to meet disappointments with grace.
So if your third grade teacher ever gives you a failing grade on the spelling test because you forgot to cross your t’s, I’m not going to interfere. I’m going to tell you that is disappointing because I know you knew how to spell those words, then I’m going to let you work it out.
If you ever find yourself in detention because of your behavior, I will not be the mom fighting to get you out of it.
Because, while I will be momentarily disappointed, the secret truth is I know you are going to do a few stupid things now. I hope you can learn while the consequences are low. I hope you fail that third grade spelling test two or three times and then learn study skills and self-discipline that will stick with you for the rest of your school career. And I also hope you ace the next one so that you learn the value of hard work and determination.
I hope that at age 14 you get distracted by a friend and fall of your bike. I hope that you get hurt, not too badly, but just badly enough to remember in a year or two, when you get your learner’s permit, that accidents happen to people who are distracted while they drive.
I hope that you learn that you are not invincible, because that is the only way I know that you will really try to keep yourself safe when you are out of my nest. There will come a day when it is time for you to fly alone, you know.
I hope that you know that I will not hover. I will not stop you. I will stand back and let you experience your own failure. And, yes, sometimes I will know that unpleasant things might happen to you, and I will let them happen anyway.
Maybe you won’t make the team.
Maybe you won’t win first place. Or any place.
I wish you many, many successes. And I also wish you several magnificent failures.
It is in the failing that we learn.
No one ever gets to the end of their life, looks back, and says, “I did everything absolutely perfectly.”
You will fail. We all do. My wish for you is that you do so with grace, humility, and honesty.
My shoulder will always be here for you. I will stand beside you while you learn how to pick yourself up, but you will be the one who needs to rise to the occasion.
So fail well, baby.
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