It’s been a surprisingly hard week and I’m feeling weighted down with the responsibility of motherhood. I feel completely inadequate.

Rex had to go in this week for another school screening to see if he could move on to first grade in the German school system. Prior to our cruise we were seeing tendrils of success from Rex. It seemed like every time I doubted this decision I would get a note home from his teacher with smiley faces telling me that Rex is starting to use his German/play with kids/participate in lessons.

But since the cruise? Only frowny faces for everyone involved.

I woke up Monday morning with a heavy dose of dread. Last time Rex went to visit this German school physician it was catastrophic. He acted like he was mentally impaired, screamed and cried and freaked out the entire hour long visit, and I left knowing they thought we were donkey kong crazy.

I was in the bathroom all morning with Rex-induced IBS.

His German seems to be non-existent and a little part of me kind of blames Jason (because I don’t want to own it). I bought Rex a big pile of cheap VHS tapes this summer and have been trying to find a used German tape player so he could watch German movies after school each day. Used VCR’s are impossible to locate. I finally found one two months ago at a thrift store and they wanted 40 euros for it. I begged and pleaded but the man said no, he wasn’t spending that kind of money on a cheap old tape player.

We have no remote for the DVD player so none of our German DVD’s can be switched to play in Deutch, and that means that my big plan of plying him with German media has ended up kaput.

The worst part? I’ve been too busy with stupid mindless cleaning and organizing to sit down with him and study German every day. He’s just so easy to not sit down with; he plays quietly after school with his animals and siblings and only asks to be fed and watered. Out of sight.

In some ways the doctor’s visit was much better than last time. He didn’t freak out and performed all the tricks they asked of him, and in fact it turns out he’s smarter than he lets on.

But the one thing they needed from him he wouldn’t give. Speaking German. Not only did he not say anything to them in German (not even the phrases he knows), but he refused to understand a single thing they said to him unless they spoke English.


The doctor sternly chastised me and I deserved it. Why am I not speaking German to him every day? Why isn’t he playing with German kids after school every day? If he doesn’t learn German by April he’s out of the school. Period.

I’d like to say that when I knelt down and prayed about this problem yesterday my answer was simple: take him out and do something else. But alas, that is not what happened. In fact the answer came swiftly and was more along the lines of, “I’ve told you what needs to happen, stop asking, get off your butt and do it.” I can’t fail my kid and I can’t fail the Lord.

I’m sure reading this that you think I’m the worst parent ever. Right now I kind of agree. I guess there are more important things in life than clean underwear and fingerprint free windows. And even though I’m trying hard to be the best mom I can be (less yelling and not so much candy), it seems like I can’t help falling short all the freaking time.

I must find a balance. The only thing I want in life right now is to help my children learn what they need to learn so they can follow the plan Heavenly Father has laid out for them.

They can’t afford to have me fail.


  1. Oh, girlfriend, I feel ya. Definitely on the whole “inadequate” thing, though I’m sure you’re doing better/more than you think you are.

    My 7 y/o is in a Chinese Immersion program this year. Half day English, half day Chinese. He’s struggling. We need to do more at home but there are only so many hours in the day and I don’t really think my family wants to eat cereal out of paper bowls 3 times a day. Cooking/eating dinner and doing the dishes takes a good 60-90 out of our evenings. It’s hard. And it’s not like YOU speak fluent German to teach him. And if memory serves, Rex isn’t incredibly social with those he doesn’t know. Playdates might be more of a headache than a help.

    My only advice (did you ask for it? I’m giving it so that this isn’t a Debbie Downer comment) is to make a small goal. Maybe 15 minutes/day with flash cards. Maybe only 10. Do you need me to send you a universal remote? Have you been able to find easy reader books in German.

    Good luck, Annie.

  2. Can I just say, you are the mother of FOUR children and you have a lot going on with just moving into a new environment, house and country, etc… Please don’t be so hard on yourself (you will make the rest of us feel bad! LOL). Just do what you can each day and then feel good about the small victories. Your son has to own his responsibilities as well, so remember that and I think you are amazing. I would never have the courage to live in a place other than the USA, so feel proud that you are supporting your husband and living an adventure. 🙂

  3. I’m with em, and not just because we have the same name. Cherish the small victories. We all can do better each and every day, but we’re also all doing what we can each and every day. Hang in there, Mom. You’re getting brownie points for loving your child so darn much.

  4. Those other 3 wonderful women offered some great advice & some wonderful love. I ditto them but I hope you’ve also taken the time to stuff a pillow in your mouth & scream. Sometimes that helps to be able to pick up & start again. 🙂 On the day that you are sending your young man off on his mission you’ll remember all of this & wonder why you thought it was so tough. Of course the fact that you’ll probably be sending him back to Germany to find those people he needs to teach will make it even more worthwhile.

  5. I’m with you in every way I can be. This isn’t easy, Anniebell. Please keep in mind that just because something is difficult it doesn’t mean you’re failing. It really doesn’t. And it could well be that what you’re getting — in terms of your answers to prayers — is a firm “Not right now,” and not necessarily a “Stop asking because the answer will always be the same.” Keep up the good fight until you get different direction. And then go that way in confidence and faith. Rex came wired the way he is for a reason. Relax, and let him show you who he is. And guess what: There are worse things than not being allowed to continue at his German school. These aren’t life-or-death consequences, Annie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that voice in my head say, “Well, all righty then. New plan.” This is especially true of my “Rex,” who at 16 is still figuring things out. You can do this. Stop beating yourself up.

  6. Bless your heart! This post could have been written by so many of us moms. Different circumstances, but same feelings. Inadequacy and guilt are some of the adversary’s greatest tools. Don’t succumb. You are doing great! Know that there are others who know exactly how you feel.

  7. don’t stress so much. you’re not failing. you’re also not only a mother to rex & rex alone. you’re trying to be a mother to ALL of your kids & a wife to a good husband. plus, you are (whether we all like it or not) a chauffeur & a cook & a housekeeper. so finding the balance for you & your family is not an easy task. frankly, learning another language is great but not imperative. when you live in a foreign country it is helpful to have, but where in the great rule book of life is it stated that you only have so many months to cram the language down your kid’s throat or else you’re kicked out of the country? perhaps a school has their own agenda, but not every kid fits into those sterile molds. should you keep trying? absolutely. becoming complacent isn’t the answer either. however, you cannot beat yourself up. just pull on your bootstraps, and move forward from this moment this day, and regret nothing. love you! ::hugs::

  8. You and Rex will be okay. The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn about my little knothead is he has just as much agency as I do.

  9. Oh, Annie, you sound exactly like a mother. And it does this mother’s heart good to read it. I have felt this so many times. I know I need to work harder to teach my kids the gospel since they don’t attend any sort of real Primary. I can see so many ways that I’m failing and I hate, just as you mention, that I pretty much am just watching myself do it. These things are IMPORTANT! And yet it feels impossible to make them enough of a priority for them to get done.

    Anyway, I wish you the best. You really are a great mother, and we all have our struggles. And I admire you greatly for trying to cut back on the yelling and the sugar. Those are hard things, too!