1/3 of a cup.

1/3 of a cup. That’s all it takes.

I was rinsing out a pesto jar. It was greasy and filthy and I was tired of making dinner. I filled it 1/3rd of the way with warm water, gave it a few “I mean it” swishes and, voila, clean. It’s like nothing every happened. It’s like it was always new and clean and waiting to be filled.

All in all, yesterday was a great first day of school. Except that my son had to be peeled from my body. I rushed our goodbye hug so I could hug crying grandmothers as they dropped off their school-aged grandchildren.

I did not cry.

I did, however, make a few mistakes at work. I neglected to order lunch for the same son that so desperately needed me to not forget his lunch. I was too busy ordering the lunches for the crying grandmothers’ grandchildren. Lunchtime came and my son’s teacher let me know, “Don’t even worry about it. There was an extra sandwich.” But, of course I worried. One day in, I’m the mom who forgot lunch.

Still, I did not cry.

I also forgot snacks. For all four of my children. At this point, I looked down at my dress and my appropriately-high-heels and I wondered if I was selfish that morning; I took the extra 10 minutes to look good. If I’d spent 5 less minutes trying to cover the 8-year-old bags under my eyes, would I have remembered snacks?

It’s doubtful.

Now would have been a great time to cry. Even still, no tears.

I pulled as far as I could into the driveway of my youngest’s daycare. I put the air on full blast and ran to the back gate just 10 feet and a world away from my car. I left the other children in their seats. I couldn’t even entertain the idea of having them enter the yard with happy, sunbathed toddlers. I could see the future – my next 40 minutes bribing children to leave a swing set. My heels had already lived their 8 hours and an eternity on my feet. I said, “I’ll be right back.” and with an ever so small eye twitch, I walked away from the car. Fortunately, the “baby” ran right to me. I grabbed her, waved and left. I barely acknowledged the women who had loved my daughter all day long.

Even still, the kids are all fine. No snack? No lunch? No problem.

But, there was something about the way the pesto left the jar.

I cried.

If you just consider what we have to work with and how much we have to do…my insides felt so sticky. The more I tried to succeed, the more I failed. And while failure is so very human, it is also so very disappointing.

But still, failure is key.

Huddled masses of new people watched me fail. I had two choices: I could accept it or, I could deny it. I chose to admit it…hopeful that with acceptance came the 1/3rd cup of water that would rinse me clean.

I don’t feel quite so sticky anymore.

This morning, I ordered my son’s lunch. I remembered snacks. I am still human. I am still flawed.

And this new school year brought so much growth. Instead of trying to be perfect, I said, “Here I am, all sticky and imperfect! I forget my kids’ lunches and I’m sometimes a mess. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.”

I promise I’ll forget snacks at least 45 more times until June.

I love my kids. My kids love me just the way I am.

And it only takes just the tiniest bit of water to wash ourselves clean.

Hello, my name is Bethany and I’m going to sometimes get it right. I’ll mostly get it wrong. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.


  1. Chiiiiiills. Up and down. For a solid minute. Because perfection.

  2. GitanaRosa says:

    Great piece. Who amongst us has not been stained with the errs inherent in Parenting?

  3. total chills! i have been seeing your awesome status updates but how did i not know you had a blog? it was the fruit fly in the wine post that brought me here! awesome!

  4. Michelle Cashin says:

    I love you.

    I just cried because today, on my son’s first day back at school, I left my two year old in the car (because he’d thrown a fit when I tried to make him get dressed at the last minute and was wearing some underpants and a pyjama top) and rushed into the school yard to get him. I waited ten minutes, all the other kids seemed to have come out, until finally he strolled out the doors. Instead of the big hug and “how was your first day back?” I barked at him about dawdling, and told him off for leaving his jumper in school, all while practically running back to the car. He looked so crestfallen.

    I don’t really feel any less sticky, but I will try to do better tomorrow xx

  5. Yes, yes, yes. And don’t forget by failing with as much self forgiveness as we can muster we teach our children to fail with grace as well. Which is way more valuable than having a parent who doesn’t fail.

  6. Thank you. So often you have taken the stress I didn’t know I was carrying away. Thank you my sticky friend. Please don’t ever change.

  7. You make me smile. Totally embarrassing the positive and human side of parenting. As a parent of a 14 and 16 yo… It changes but is the same. Different circumstance, same guilt, but love surpasses all mistakes under the best of intentions. Despite the “you’re ruining my life” comments they know you ruin out out of love. College savings/therapy… They decide.

  8. Good golly with this post. So sticky. So very sticky. And I don’t think warm water will do it, but I’ll try. Because when you said “the more I tried to succeed the more I failed,” I cried. Because RIGHT?!

    Sigh. More trying tomorrow.

  9. Oh yes, this is my life. Just hoping that people can be accepting of my “as is” ways. Love you.

  10. I’m the mom who forgets it’s wear-your-Halloween-costume-to-PreK-Day. They keep cheesy little masks on hand for the children of moms like me. I honestly don’t think it bothered me until I saw the mask. Then I sobbed. But you know what? That kid just started HS and *he doesn’t even remember PreK*. Next time I’m going to try to forgive myself a few years sooner.

  11. What I see when I read this is not a person failing at anything, but a woman who got herself and 4 kids ready for a day of work, school, and daycare; who accepted help when it was offered and offered help where it was needed; who got herself and 4 kids back home after a day of work, school, and daycare; who then prepared and cleaned up from dinner. All while wearing what I’m certain are some badass shoes. Incredible!

    When getting dressed for work feels selfish, you are a mother. The magnitude of the expectations we shoulder every day could render us paralyzed and overwhelmed. Instead, we aim for hitting all the targets but some we miss. Success is simply taking a little extra time the next day to aim for those.

  12. [Slow clap]

  13. I love this. And you.

  14. Here’s praying for loads more of that cleansing 1/3 cup…and failure is ALWAYS the key for letting us mommas know that you GET IT. We love you. xo

  15. I hear ya. Great post, and, yes, we must remind ourselves daily that we are only human.

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