Last night my family and I went bowling in celebration of my husband’s 28th birthday. My mom happily sat out avoiding the ugly shoes and embracing the extra one-on-one time with her grandbaby. My dad, brother, sister, husband, and I bowled. 

The first game, I bowled a 142. Not my best, but pretty dang good. I had only three open frames and beat everyone else by 25 points or more. I found my groove. 

The second game, which started just minutes after the first game ended, I bowled an 88. It was as if someone snuck in and took away any ability I’d just had moments prior. This game I had only two non-open frames and I lost quite drastically.

Isn’t that just how motherhood can go? One minute, you’re killing the game, trying to decide what the title of your “tips on motherhood” book is going to be, and the next minute, you’re crying in the bathroom trying to figure out why anyone trusted you alone with tiny humans.

Sometimes, it seems the days I’m most determined to succeed as a mom are the days I fail most miserably. Other times, the zero effort I give that manifests itself in the form of a pizza party in mom’s bed results in the most victorious surprise and happy memory. It’s interesting how quickly this mothering thing can shift. 

Something I noticed after our night of bowling was that no one talked about my bad game but me. My dad high-fived me as we walked out for such an impressive win in the first game. My siblings made multiple comments about how I was a show-off and must have been getting in some secret practice. My husband told me “good job babe” about 14 times. I was the only one who seemed to remember how poorly I did the second time around. My focus was placed differently than theirs. 

I think this is symbolic of motherhood. At the end of the day, my victories far outshine my failures, and I’m probably the only one who dwells on the open frames of my day. My child adores me and reminds me of that every night when she cuddles my shoulder and touches my face like I’m the safest spot in her world. In those moments she’s likely remembering how hilarious and fun it was when we threw blocks down the staircase and took a bath together before bed, while I’m remembering how I lost my patience with her because she fought me while I tried to change her earrings.

I’ll probably never bowl a 300 game. I’ll probably never have a perfect day as a mom. But I am thankful that perfection isn’t expected, and that wins, no matter how fleeting, are what’s remembered. 

Originally published on the author’s blog

Abbie Dunlap

Abbie Dunlap writes about her personal experiences in hopes that others may be able to draw encouragement through reading about them. You can find her at