Failure is inevitable in improv. It doesn’t matter how “good” of an improviser you are or how well you know the “rules.” You will have a terrible, awful, not-funny-at-all show that just plain sucks. The good news is that improv teaches you to accept (and embrace) your failure.
Unfortunately, motherhood is not so forgiving. Not only do moms feel guilty about failure, but society makes us feel even worse! People constantly judge moms. They say things like, “I never let my kids…” or “Are you sure you should be… with your kid?” We question ourselves, and we feel terrible about our choices.
Improv can help! Treat your mom fails the same way you would treat a bad scene in improv. Here are some ways improv has taught me to embrace those “mom fail” moments:
Just say it – “I failed!”
I am a Type A individual by nature. I make lists just so I can cross things off and feel good about myself. The flip side of that is that I feel terrible when I don’t accomplish things.
In one of the first improv classes I took in Hollywood, the teacher instructed us to be proud of our failures. When we had a bad scene, we stepped forward, lifted our arms, yelled “I FAILED!” and took a bow. It was liberating. I dare you to try it.
Share your failure with others.
This goes hand in hand with the suggestion above. The difference is that now you are sharing with friends. Find people who support you and who won’t judge you. Tell them what happened and how it made you feel. Really let it out, and do not leave out any details.
I really tried to hide my “mom fail” moments for a long time. So, I never talked about things like my baby getting sick because I didn’t want to hear jokes about daycare. Also, I never talked about my daughter hurting herself because I didn’t want someone to ask, “Where was her mommy?” It was exhausting… and depressing!
However, I joined a few good mom groups online. I found out I am not alone, and that feels good. Also, it is really great to be able to vent or just ask a dumb, silly, or gross question to a bunch of people who were wondering the same thing.
I guess what I’m saying is validate yourself! Having a group of moms to talk though motherhood with is extremely helpful (especially because you know you can text them at 4am without it being a big deal). Get those feelings of failure off your chest and out into the open… for your sanity and your health!
Laugh at yourself.
This is one self-explanatory. Did you just find a leftover grape, a cheerio, and a grain of rice in your bra? Was that what you had for dinner three days ago? That is hilarious! Do not be afraid to laugh at yourself. It feels good, and it counts as exercise!
Let it go! Don’t relive the moment.
This concept is the most challenging for me. The worst part of an improv class or show is the car ride home. However long that commute is, I find myself replaying scenes over and over. I regret my choices. I think of one million better ways I could have responded to a comment or a suggestion. Could-have-would-have-should-have thoughts run rampant in my mind! It is exhausting … and depressing!
So, let it go! Let it goooo! You cannot rewrite history, and neither can I. If you just accept things as they happen, and apply the steps above, you can (and will) get past this mom fail! If you’re lucky, you will learn something. Consider yourself really lucky you do not have to deal with it again.
The moral of the story
Failure is inevitable in motherhood as it is in improvisation. If you apply the simple rules of improv to mom fails, you can get by relatively unscathed. Just remember not to take life so seriously! Your kid is watching you to see how you approach life. If you are able to bring joy and laughter to tough situations (e.g. failures), that will go a long way to your child’s success. Basically, mom fails are a necessary part of making our kids better people!
Your mom fail, as it turns out, is a win!