I've realized, however, that some of these "failures" are just beyond my control. As much as I want my kids to behave like saints, my kids have their own needs and desires and will, probably, not act like saints, but like children. When my babies were crying more than usual, it wasn't me they were upset about, but an upset stomach or a bad dream. Every time I see angst on a parents face caused by the latest phase of a child's development, I want to lean over, put my hand on their shoulder and say, "It's not your fault." It's not. Parenting is not a simple formula where what you want is what you get from yourself or your children. There is a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. So if you're stressed about what you're doing wrong, lean in and listen carefully.
When your newborn is fussy for no identifiable reason, it's not your fault.
When your child isn't sleeping through the night, it's not your fault.
When your child is having trouble potty-training, it's not your fault.
When your toddler is biting other kids, it's not your fault.
When you fret you're not making enough milk, it's not your fault
When you've had a miscarriage, it's not your fault
When you're having trouble conceiving, it's not your fault
When you are having trouble balancing work and children, it's not your fault
When you are going crazy being home full time, it's not your fault
I'm not absolving parents of their responsibilities--such as disciplining their children and being aware of negative dynamics--but I am absolving parents of guilt. Children evolve and our job is to assist them along their journey with the best information we have and with all the love we possess. If you, dear mother, are going to use the word "fault" then you need to think about "intent." You cannot be blamed for something you did not intend to happen.
Next time your child behaves inexplicably or your parenting doesn't go smoothly. Please take a breath, tell yourself you are doing your best and remember, it's not your fault.