I had planned to do everything correctly.

I rushed to get into the car and out the door in time to get Rachel to therapy. I set the kitchen timer for ten minutes before I had to leave and packed up my computer bag ahead of time. When the timer went off, I ran out the door and rushed to the library to drop off books and avoid a late fee. I was certain I had ample time.

Yet, when I got into the car, I was somehow running behind. Worse, when I got to Rachel’s school, they had changed check-out procedures about an hour before I got there, so that took an extra ten minutes. That meant I would be late for therapy. Again.

I got into the car and gripped the wheel, my eyes on the clock. My jaw tightened, and I slumped forward. “I am such a failure.”

I drove off, trying not to leave minivan tracks on the parking lot, and thought about my words. Failure … was that really how I see myself? Sometimes. But is it true? Perhaps, in a philosophical sense — everyone falls short of perfection. But the important question is: should I see myself as a failure? No. Aside from being counterproductive, it is another way to become discouraged. And as my aunt says, “Discouragement is the tool of the enemy.”

Leaving the school parking lot, I took a breath and re-evaluated. I’m not perfect, but I am trying. I am not a failure. I’m just a regular mom who doesn’t have it together — just like the rest of the world.

The end of the year seems to be a time when I am ever hard on myself. Yet, who can do it all?

So, my friends, I hope you have a discouragement-free day and start to your new year. When you hear that inner voice of discouragement, stick your tongue out at it and tell it to go away.

Editor’s Note: As you think about where you are headed in the New Year, remember to extend grace to yourself, too. None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes. Instead of getting stuck on the mistakes you’ve made, focus this year on where you’re headed, where you’re leading your children, and where God is leading you. Blessings to you, sweet friends, and happy new year!