This little bundle of delight woke from her nap yesterday right as I was done on the treadmill and ready to shower, so I decided to let her play in the bath while I rinsed off. On the way, she happened to grab her toothbrush and began chomping on it. That’s cool. I floss in the shower, so she can brush her teeth. We get in and I do my thing while she plays. I pay enough attention to see that she’s not drowning, but mostly, I’m just showering.

Until I happen to see her jam the toothbrush end down the drain, then back in her mouth.


Now, I can’t outright call this failure. I mean, sure, I could have been supervising her more closely. (Though, if we’re worried about supervision, the bigger failure would be the 5- and 6-year-olds out in the living room watching Magic School Bus with zero grownups, but whatever.)

I just bring it up because kids are weird and gross and I used to think there was something wrong with mine when they did stuff like this. I had about a year where every single time we went to a public bathroom, I had to repeat The Rule: “We don’t stick our faces in toilets in public restrooms, girls.” Do you know why we had this rule? Because a particular one of mine broke it every time. Face. Checking out the underside of the rim. EEW.

At the time, I was sure there was something I was doing wrong. I mean, whose kids are this fascinated by the inside of public toilets??? Turns out, mine are. And they’re okay. And their immune systems are awesome. And none of them inspect toilets right now. It was a phase.

So it’s not failure. I mean, I deal with the things that totally gross me out (apparently by making rules that are only marginally effective), but it’s just… kids. Tuesday, I heard myself say, “If you can’t stay out of mischief with a trashcan on your head, you might have to spend some time without it on your head.” They’re just weird.

The grace here has been, over the last several years, learning to roll with it rather than internalize it as some deficiency in my mothering skills. I’ve learned to chuckle at it (sometimes with a shudder) instead of internally shaming myself for it.

Friends, are there things that your kids do that you feel shame about? Is it possible they’re just… being kids? How would it feel to handle the behavior that needs to be unlearned, but without taking it in as personal failure?

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

31days of grace in failure 4-3


Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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  1. I have had to tell Daniel not to put his face in the toilet on more than one occasion. It seems to be a weird fascination for him, “hey, check out that it’s just the size of my face!”
    And go around rubbing his tooth brush on every surface “cleaning” intermittently with brushing his teeth. This I think is gross, but really don’t mind too much considering his mother dipped her toothbrush in the toilet, then proceeded to brush her teeth when she was his age.
    So I think you are right, it’s just children.


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