I failed him.
I. Failed. Him.
These words ring in my ears every single day. I think them. I hear them. I say them. I feel them.
I know someone (or everyone) is going to feel all kinds of uncomfortable when they read that. Don’t just yet. Let me explain myself.
Number one- I am not taking ownership or responsibility for Teagan dying by suicide. I am however, owning up to my roll, responsibilities and part I played in Teagan’s life. Just the same I do for each of my children. It’s a natural part of mothering, I think.
I failed him. I failed him in so many ways. I failed him the night he died. I failed him the weeks leading up to it. I failed him in his early teenage years and I failed him when he was in his younger years. I can see all the things I failed at. Hindsight. Hindsight is 20/20, right? There were signs I missed. There were words he spoke I should have picked up on. I didn’t. There was one phone call particularly, that I wish I would have handled differently. I wish I would have been more present and offered different words. I wish I would have listened. You know, the REALLY LISTENING, instead of the just listening. You know what I mean, right moms?
I failed him.
But before everyone goes off on how it’s unhealthy to feel this way, just hear me out. As parents we fail our kids every single day. We just do. Because we’re human. We’re imperfect human beings. We can’t do every single thing right, every single time. It just doesn’t work that way.
I fail all of my kids every single day. I fail my married son and his wife by not calling or checking in often enough. I don’t ask about their day to day near as often as I would like to. I don’t visit them as often as I want. Are there valid reasons? Sure, but I’m still failing them daily.
I fail my teenagers by being distracted when they are trying to talk to me. I fail them by being short tempered and snappy. I fail them by not paying close enough attention to their grades, for not keeping on them to do their chores or save more money. I fail them by forgetting to sign the paper or pay the fees so they can do the things they need and want. I fail them daily.
I fail my littles when I yell at them for fighting and complaining about the other one breathing their air and touching them and looking at them. I fail them when I won’t play a game with them or when I’m actually not listening to the story they’re telling me. I fail them when I don’t remind them to do their reading or when I tell them to watch a show just because I really don’t have the energy to be present for them.
I fail my kids every single day. I always have and I always will. It’s just the way life works. As much as I’d like to be the perfect mother and never raise my voice or show frustration or always be present for them or speak their love language all the time, it’s just not a reality.
That’s not what stings. I can except imperfection. I can except that I mess up on a daily basis. Because guess what? I can apologize. I can try to do better. I can change things I need to to help them grow, develop, learn and succeed. I can ask what they need from me. I can ask how I can do better and apologize when I’m wrong.
Until I can’t.
And I can’t do that with Teagan anymore. I can’t tell him, “Dude, I’m so sorry. I wish I would have listened better on that phone call. I wish I would have done things differently on “that night”. I wish I would have been able to understand what you were trying to tell me. I’m sorry, bud. I’m really sorry. I’ll try to do better next time.”
Nope. I don’t get that with that kid ever again. Not in this lifetime. I don’t get to. And that is what eats me up. That is what brings hot tears to my eyes and a breath I can’t take. That’s what makes my chest tight and my neck tense. That’s the part I hate and makes my heart ache an ache I can’t describe. It’s the worst kind of pain. Not having another chance. Not being able to write the text, make the phone call or have the conversation. I hate it. I absolutely hate it.
I will forever be grateful for the conversations I did get to have with him, the texts I did write and the phone calls I did make. I’ll always be so thankful for the apologies I made, the times I REALLY LISTENED and the laughs, adventures and learning experiences we shared. I’ll cherish those things that come to my mind that I remember as successes as Teagan’s mom. The things we were able to talk through and heal in those last few months of his life. Parenting for me has never been all a failure or all a success. You have to take the good and the bad. As much as I regret and wish I could change the bad, the failures and the things I could have done better, I’ll hold dear the good, the wins, the learning and growth Teagan and I had together.
Losing Teagan and losing him in the manner in which we did has changed my perspective. Parenting is a trip. It is the best and the worst. It’s the happiest of the happy and the saddest of the sad. Sometimes it feels like rainbows and butterflies and sometimes it feels like storm clouds, thunder and lightning. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. It’s painful. It’s amazing.
I fail my kids every day. I always will. I’m human. And right now, I’m a human deep in grief and that’s a messy and unpredictable place to be. There will always be regret for me, because it’s impossible to do everything just the way each kid needs it to be done, for them and in the language they understand. But I hope to take every single opportunity given to me to love each of my kids the way they need to be loved. To not only tell them, but show them by my actions. To say I’m sorry. To show up for them and to never take for granted that beautiful gift of being able to try again, to do better next time and to learn and grow with them, because of them and for them.