I have a pretty set morning routine, and it always starts the same way. I get up and walk through my house, opening the curtains and blinds, letting in as much natural light as I possibly can. I love seeing the sun shine through my windows in the morning.

My favorite view, though, is once I open the blinds on the french doors leading out to our porch and backyard. But the other morning, I opened those blinds and discovered that I had managed to kill my potted flowers on the table outside. Not on purpose of course. I just forgot to water them. For like, a week. (Oops.)

After my mom died a few years ago, planting flower gardens became a love of mine. I’m not good at it, but I still enjoy it, and it has been a comfort to me. If I’m being honest, my husband mostly does the planting. My role has been to make sure the flowers don’t die. So, yeah. I failed at that one this time—and a few others.

I was honestly kind of kicking myself over it for a bit. I felt like I had dropped the ball at something that is important to me. I mean, really, how hard is it to walk out there and water a few flowers? I felt like I needed to get back on top on my game. Obviously I was slacking off as a human being.

And then I realized how ridiculous the voice in my head sounded. Because here are the kinds of things I was doing while I was unknowingly dehydrating my beloved flowers:

  • Raising two small children as a woman whose husband is very frequently travelling with his job. For a week at a time.
  • Getting ready to start a new homeschool year
  • Grocery shopping
  • Being our family’s financial planner/manager
  • Being a wife
  • Being a daughter, and a sister, and a friend
  • Cleaning my house
  • Laundry. Oh my God, the never-ending laundry
  • Cooking food
  • Driving my kids around town for dance classes
  • Sleeping (though not very much)
  • Writing for various publications

I’m sure the list could be longer, but that kind of seems like a lot already. But what was my instinct? To be upset with myself. To feel like I wasn’t doing enough.

How often do we do this to ourselves though? Especially as mothers. Once we take on that role, we think we should be able to just naturally juggle it all. We are so many things, all at once. We are everything to our children, just due to the fact that we are their mothers. Before we ever do a thing for them in the day-to-day, our role is already huge. But there are so many other things that we women and mothers are. And those things get heavy at times. And we inevitably drop a ball.

I didn’t learn a single thing from killing my flowers. But I did learn a lesson in kicking myself for it. I can’t be all things. I am going to drop a ball here and there. But we are so much more than our tiny, perceived failures. And I don’t have to be perfect, or remember everything in my endless to-do list. I gave endless energy to the other things and people in my life, even if I forgot about my flowers.

So we’ll plant new ones, and I will give myself a little more credit for all the other roles I successfully fill. Hopefully one day I can add “decent gardener” to that list.

Hannah Angstadt-Gunning

Hannah is a former full-time working turned stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. She is a contributing writer and co-editor for Columbia SC Mom’s Blog. You can also find her at her blog, Palindromic Musings, where she writes about living with and navigating through grief, and on Twitter.  She is passionate about writing, painting, social justice, wine, and raising strong women. Hannah lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two young daughters, and is an alumni of the University of South Carolina and devoted Gamecock fan.