Favorites, Parenting

We’re Ruining Our Kids for Life


This morning I finally broke the bus stop/jammie barrier.  For weeks now, I’ve managed to pull on jeans, shorts, or at the bare minimum, my butter-stained yoga pants, but today, today I went in patterned jammie pants flowing in the early morning breeze.  It’s only October, and I’ve already landed in this dismal lack of caring.

I wore my glasses, the ones I always switch out for contacts before going into public.  I left my hair exactly how my pillow made it.  And I pulled on a bright blue Kentucky hoodie to cover up my extreme bralessness.

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

One of the other parents moseyed over to talk to me, and I used tiny words without opening my mouth more than a crack, for fear my morning breath would kill him dead on the spot in front of the children.

At this rate, I’ll be wearing my bathrobe by January.

It’s just so early, this school thing.  At the beginning of the year I felt a sense of purpose.  I was infatuated with my own awesomeness, an alarm-setting, lunch-packing fiend.  I was unstoppable, and I looked good.  It was light outside when we took off for the bus stop and I managed teeth brushing and actual shoes.  I was impressive; that is to say, I impressed myself.

But as the mornings get darker and we find ourselves creeping out of the house in the pitch black to gather with the entire neighborhood, I try to use the darkness to hide what’s really going on, a total abandonment of style and I daresay hygiene.

Just whatever.

That any of us can get kids off to school before the butt crack of dawn is nothing short of phenomenal, and as long as they’re wearing clothes and have changed their undies at least a couple times within the last week, then I’d say that’s winning and we deserve cookies for breakfast.

I can’t keep up.  Every day I thumb through article after article giving me ten steps to pack the perfect lunch, three things I must absolutely teach my kids, eight ways to talk to my children about hard stuff, and the twenty words I must absolutely never use with my kids or I will ruin them for life.

I will ruin them for life.  No matter how many articles I read and how I try to nail the perfect daily routine involving the right balance of nutrition and memorizing the Bible, I will ruin them for life.  Someday, they’ll sit in a room with a therapist or a small group and talk about how Mommy got it wrong.

But I’m holding out hope they’ll also talk about how Mommy got it right.  How it wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly good enough.  I hope, no I know, that God will let his grace trickle down through the cracks in my parenting.

I don’t sign my daughter’s agenda every day and we forget to practice Awana verses and I’m pretty sure my kids lie to me about brushing their teeth and they don’t shower every day and I’ve discovered Smuckers Uncrustables instead of all natural perfectly packed lunches and my son is completely addicted to zombie books and my daughter picks her nose and my littlest eats napkins.

And apparently now I go to the bus stop in my full-on jammies.

And we’re all fine, and you’re fine.  I mean, we’re ruining our kids for life, but only the doesn’t-matter parts.  I think the parts that matter, the love between the chaos, I think that’s just fine.  We’re all going to be okay.


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  • Shop At Blu

    Haha…the matter parts ARE the important parts. You’ve made me think how time changes us…and age changes us! My poor 12 year old is the youngest of 5, oldest just turned 29!!! WHAT? How did that happen!?! Say a prayer for my poor neglected 12 year old…but why does it seem he is the best adjusted child in the family???

    • Melanie Dale

      How did that happen?!??! It feels like they’ll never learn to flush the toilet then POOF! They’re 29. Oh my goodness. You’re right – the matter parts are the important parts. :)

  • Lisa Humphries

    Yeah…my oldest is turning 3 today (holy cheeseballs, how did that happen?!) and I am already dreading the school morning thing. I am NOT a morning person. Neither is my son (the now-3-year-old). I am pretty sure that I’ll be rocking the yoga pants (they don’t have to know I slept in them the night before, right?) or Adidas track pants (which are also good for sleeping in). On a bright note, I read an article in a semi-recent InStyle magazine about how “athleisure” (athletic leisure) is in fashion right now. If InStyle endorses it, that is pretty much golden in my book!!

    • Melanie Dale

      “Holy cheeseballs” is my new favorite. And athletic leisure…isn’t that an oxymoron? Are we supposed to work and get sweaty or lounge around eating bons bons? This is confusing, but if it means yoga pants are in, then I’m for it.

  • naomir5034

    My daughter slept in her (clean) clothes last night. She even had clean underwear. This was after AWANA (so we got home late) and a cinnamon bun snack (I know! I made cinnamon buns with my kids RIGHT BEFORE AWANA! I may be ruining them for life but I’m also do great things!). So yeah, she slept in clean clothes so that she wouldn’t throw a temper tantrum in the morning when I made her get dressed in the almost-dark at least an hour before her normal waking time to go to an early morning (homeschool) French class. I ignored the tangles in her hair and kinda smoothed the top down so it wouldn’t be as obvious. So what if her clothes look a bit fuzzy and wrinkly at French class. She sure was much happier this week than last week heading to the same class. It’s about the kids’ hearts, not my clothes or theirs!

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh my goodness this is an incredible idea. Sleeping in clean clothes. This could revolutionize everything.

    • Shala Latham

      I have let my kids sleep in clean clothes as well, & its a lot easier!

    • Megan Nicole Douglas

      I used to shower and sleep in clean clothes all the time because I wanted to get up early and walk to school. :)

    • Off The Cuff Cooking

      I always shower at bedtime… that is a very good time saver for a non-morning person, and as I like to say, I’m too OCD to go crawl into my sheets & pillows with any residual ‘filth of the day’ on my body. So I have to shower at night. I just have to. But it works out in the a.m.’s. If I’m a bit sweaty in the morning, I take a damp wash cloth and freshen up … put some deodorant on and rinse my face. Takes about 1 minute of time, and then I spritz my hair and smooth it out if it’s a little disheveled from my pillow.

  • Sara Newberry Harms

    can we discuss how your daughter has an “AGENDA” to sign every day?? i feel like that word is one of the 20 that will ruin your kids’ lives….and we can blame that one on the school. fo’ sho’ (is that how you spell fo’ sho’?? i have no idea)

    • Melanie Dale

      Ha! Yeah, agenda could definitely be a life-ruining word, fer sher.

    • Amanda

      My first-grader has an agenda that I must sign everyday as well :(

    • doyourbest

      Seriously? School teaches them responsibility and the agenda teaches organization and assiste them in completing their tasks. Its like a calendar, is that a bad word too?

    • Cathy Cross

      Yes, that is how you spell it lol. And I agree! They have me one of those things in 7th grade and told me if I didn’t get it signed I’d have silent lunch every day! Well it turned out ok though. Joke’s on them cuz I’m a serious introvert!

  • Laura Laird

    This made me tear up! But for a good reason! Thank you for taking the pressure off Melanie! I mean I am a 46 year old mom with 2 8 year old little girls! That’s cause I decided, since my hubby and I tried and failed for 10 years to have kids, I would adopt… At 38!!! There are days when I say to myself “what were you thinking????” But then I look at my Child Protective Services adopted little girls who are 3 months apart in age and not blood related in any way, yet almost perfectly look-alike and realize that God had a plan and He wasn’t looking at my age… :) Yet I am so far from being the “perfect” mom that it makes me cry… And then I realize… The more imperfect I am the more I need to rely on Jesus to raise my girls despite me… And isn’t that the point anyway? Even if I ware “lounge pants” and a “wife beater shirt” (whom came up with that name anyway??? LOL!) most days and have to put a jogging jacket on to hide, as you put it, my “bralessness” in 90 degree weather in Texas to go pick them up from school… Like you said, I can’t keep up… But then again, I don’t need to! I just need to hit the ground with my knees when life gets too hard to stand! :)

    • Melanie Dale

      I like this, “I need to rely on Jesus to raise my girls despite me.” Yup. Me, too.

      • Jeremy

        My kids need me more than an imagery friend to talk to at night before they go to sleep. I feel sorry for kids who’s parent’s give it all up to some god to deal with instead of dealing with it themselves.

    • Ronna-Renee

      Laura – I’m 50 with an 8 year old.! I’m glad of it but my knees creak getting off the floor! Hang in there!

      • Laura Laird

        You’re more courageous than I am… :)

  • Heather

    Oh thank goodness someone else says this. I have been feeling like such a bum trying to live up to all these picture perfect mom’s! I forget to sign the agenda too, I wear pjs almost everyday to take them to school, and sometimes I forget to pack their lunch and at the last moment i notice they have a fruit cup stuffed into a target grocery bag. But as you say hopefully our children will rremember our good moments too, life isn’t perfect!

    • Melanie Dale

      Bum solidarity, Heather.:) They will remember our good moments and hopefully laugh about the bad ones!

  • Barbara Johnson

    Thank you for this! I feel like I am failing my four kids, ( two girls, 18 adopted and special needs, 14 and two 10 year old boys, one adopted) and they deserve a better Mommy. I’m not because my kids know they are loved and I will do anything for them. That is more important then what I am wearing to drop them off at school or what they are having for lunch!

    • Ronna-Renee

      Barbara, it breaks my heart to read that you feel like you’re failing. You have saved these children and you love them. That is enough. Don’t let the mommy pressures get to you. You are the perfect mother for them….don’t judge perfection by anyone else’s standards….you’re perfect for them. Hugs….

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh, Barbara, I have had those feelings, feeling like I’m failing. I can relate. But you are such a good mom, and I KNOW they know they are loved, and that’s all that matters. You’ve got it, friend. You know what’s important. You are doing such good work, mama.

  • UofKyshortcake

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. It’s like you know me! Lol I drive my kids to school every morning in one of my Kentucky hoodies, old yoga pants, and my moccasin house shoes every morning. It’s my school drop off uniform. I consider it a good day when I switch from glasses to contacts beforehand. My toddler is always in his pajamas to take his brothers to school. I’m better about checking and signing the agenda every day after years of seeing a red pen circling my missing initials. It’s usually signed in the car or while I’m packing lunches. There may have been a few times we’ve had to stop at a convience store on the way to pick up something for their lunch. They say it’s awesome when that happens because it’s like a field trip lunch. I say they love me not despite of my flaws but for them. Some days I feel like I’m failing but my boys know they’re loved, the missteps turn into funny memories, and I’m perfect for them as they are for me

    • Melanie Dale

      I love this: “they love me not despite of my flaws but for them.” YES!!!

  • Nicole

    I love this. Failing my kids is something I ask myself all to much these days..All I no is I am a better parent the my mom was.. For her to get up with me in the morning would have taking an act of God!! IF.. I mean if she got up the farthest she made it was to the front door to say bye!! (In her robe to..Lol) I get up every morning (slept inlook and all) and take my daughter to school.. And if it’s a good day..When I pick her up, I my have changed up a little..Lol.. So I think we are ahead of the game yoga pants and all!! There is no way to be on point all of the time.We have to show our kids that it’s ok not to be perfect..That is ok to be comfortable and still be super mom..yea super mom in yoga pants with no bra!!! Your all right in my book!!

    • Melanie Dale

      I love this, Nicole: “We have to show our kids that it’s ok not to be perfect.” What a great thing to teach them! Love.

  • GlassesAreSoYesterday

    Air Optix Night and Day Contacts. The ultimate in laziness. You’re welcome.

    • Melanie Dale

      That’s life-changing right there! :)

  • Julia Kemp

    i think u are being a great mom. ur kids go to school everyday correct? they eat everyday right. they dont run around naked. they arent killing anyone. u get things done. u do what u have to. then its success. pat on the back job well done and to the people who say u arent doing great f them they arent in ur shoes they arent living ur life they arent doing what u do. u keep being who u are and being amazing…when u show up at the bus stop naked thats when u have a problem ..um im too tired to even get dressed but heres the kiddos have a great day busdriver lady….lol… and yes noones perfect but u are doing the same crap that 20,000 other parents do every day who is anyone else to judge u…. hugs

    • Melanie Dale

      I love hugs! Hugging you back. :) Okay, you made me laugh out loud about showing up to the bus stop naked. HA!

  • Felisia

    I have a behavior chart i have to intial everyday and another folder on fridays i have to intial about his week. I drive my son to school since we live on one side of town and his school is on the other. And i go in my jammies everyday and even if i manage to put on jeans and a bra its only because i have to go into the school that morning for whatever reason and even then i am half put together!

    • Melanie Dale

      Yep, school drop-off should definitely be bra-optional!

  • jan

    I have a friggin behavior folder to sign every night along with agendas for three kids.i started off great but now am already at the bus stop in my robe and without my partial waiting (in my car) thankful it’s dark.I’m down to four days packing lunch and had to write an apology note last week because my kid went to the fair and didn’t do homework .Where can I get one of those Kentucky hoodies?lol

    • Melanie Dale

      Bahahaha, mine rests on the floor next to my bed, ready to cover up whatever’s going on with my jammies. You’re doing good work! Solidarity!

  • PhyllisM

    Maybe I’m not the best person to have read this article… You guys are seriously worried about ruining your kids over home-made sandwiches and agendas? C’mon! Let’s be real for a second. Let me give you a little taste of my world for a minute…

    My mom was a victim of her raising. She was terribly physically and sexually abused by her parents. Back in the ’70s, when she ran away to find CPS rather than live with her parents, they called it the worst case of abuse in Texas they had ever seen. I’m not going into details, but suffice it to say, some of the worst headlines you can imagine were probably a good example of the childhood she lived. From there, she was bounced all over the system until she got pregnant at 15. See, the thing about sexual abuse is that it goes one of two ways… Either you eschew physical contact completely or you go ‘hog wild’ because it gives you a sense of control over something you didn’t have control over previously. She had 5 kids before the age of 22. Did she give us all up for adoption? No. Did she binge drink or bury herself in drugs? Again, no. We were ridiculously poor, but we had each other. My dad is an amazing man. He was a serious kind of loner, but he was also a serious kind of hard worker, and, even though he barely ever made over minimum wage, he gave us the best of everything he had. So did mom. She didn’t beat us. She didn’t sexually abuse us. She gave us a childhood a million times better than she had. Was it always easy for us? Not even a little. I can remember one month, her and dad bought a 50# bag of flour because it was all we could afford, so we had biscuits and gravy all month. But the point is, they tried hard and they gave us their best.

    Fast forward 20 years. Now I have a family of my own. My husband and I were both raised in poverty. We were both raised in broken homes (my parents eventually divorced). And, even though our parents gave us the best they had, we wanted to give our children even more. I’m what most moms would consider a “crunchy mom”. I have 4 kids (and we’ve considered adopting 1 or 2 more). I home school. I’m that mom that spends days and months researching curriculums to find the one that fits my child right (because they all have individual learning differences). I cook meals from scratch. We do co-ops for my kids’ social enhancement. I’m active in my church. I hand-make my girls’ hair bows. I spend hours scouring the internet for new hairstyles because I want my girls to feel pretty. I pay attention to the fact that one of my sons is a computer nerd and the other one will probably be a total jock because he loves sports. We have a changing daily schedule. Do we always get it right? Not even close. I could probably name a million ways I fall short of what I want to be. My point is, in this fast paced world of expected perfection, EVERYONE falls short. Our society has taught us we should be perfect little robots that get everything right the first time. Personally, though, I think it teaches our children valuable lessons when we mess up. Kids are an ever-absorbent sponge. Of course they see us mess up, fall behind, fall short, and sometimes they even see us give up. Does that make us bad parents? NOT AT ALL! Because all of those moments are teachable moments. Mom got frustrated and raised her voice? “I’m sorry, baby, but even mommy gets frustrated sometimes. Should I have raised my voice? Probably not, but that’s why it’s important to learn to forgive others. Because we all mess up sometimes and we all would like to be forgiven.”

    Mommies aren’t perfect and our kids need to know that because they also need to know that they don’t have to be perfect either. They need to know that love means accepting flaws and weaknesses, as well as celebrating strenghths and the difficulties they’ve learned to overcome. I refuse to beat myself up if I end up making a mad rush to the gas station in the morning in my jammies just to get milk for cereal. At least they have full bellies. I’m not going to be mad if the best I can do is rush the kids out the door all wrinkly with barely enough time to throw their hair in a pony tail. At least they aren’t having to learn to accomplish these things alone without a mom. And I’m not going to call myself a bad mom because my two year old decides all he wants to eat is corn dogs… For a week. In fact, I’ll probably pat myself on the back for being able to sneak in the occasional fiber bar or fruit, knowing I really am doing my best to give him the best diet I can because I’m not perfect and they’re not perfect either, and that’s OKAY.

    • Melanie Dale

      Phyllis, you sound like a fantastic mom, and I think we all are! :) We aren’t seriously worried about ruining our kids over these things. Sometimes the internet and the comparison trap can tempt us to feel that way, but we know that perfection is a myth and we know what matters most, our kids feeling loved. I’m so glad you refuse to beat yourself up. I love this: “Mommies aren’t perfect and our kids need to know that because they also need to know that they don’t have to be perfect either. They need to know that love means accepting flaws and weaknesses, as well as celebrating strengths and the difficulties they’ve learned to overcome.” Amen to that!

  • Amanda Crow

    I take my daughter to her bus every morning in my bath robe. She eats school lunches as well. She dresses herself for the most part and she has special needs.

    • Melanie Dale

      Bath robe high five!

  • Andrea Singleton

    I teach my students and my children that there is no such thing as perfection. You can work hard to achieve it, but it would only be perfect in their eyes. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. As hard as they may work towards it, never stress over it. Just the attempt and the fact that they did their best should always be good enough. I use world leaders, government politicians, actors and actresses, royalty, and everyday people as examples. I don’t expect my best from them I expect them to do only their best at anything they do.

    • Melanie Dale

      Andrea, there’s a lot of wisdom there. Thank you! I like “I don’t expect my best from them I expect them to do only their best at anything they do.” We are all gifted differently and so unique. Love.

  • Off The Cuff Cooking

    I know people home school for a variety of reasons… but truly, one of my main reasons for wanting to homeschool is so that school can start around 10 a.m., because I *can DO THAT!* Getting my future kids out to door to be by the bus by 7:00 or 7:30? Holy moly, no way. Actually in our district, the high school kids buses leave at 7 a.m. Those poor sleep deprived, bedraggled teenagers have to be up at 5:30 or 6 to be at school on time. I was spoiled… my high school started at 8:30! (But that’s one of the advantages of living in ranch-country — which I did at the time– because so many kids are farmers and live 20 miles from school and have morning chores like feeding livestock.) :)

  • Rachel

    Have you been spying on me? Other than the fact that my kids walk to school, I totally could have written this!!!





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