The Strength to Fail- Overcoming Fear To Follow A Dream - by Karen Stoteraux for MotherHustle
“If I taught her through my own inaction that this was normal, that this was how women are supposed to be treated, or even just that it’s ok, that would have been the biggest tragedy and something I simply could not live with.”

I am afraid of plenty of things – snakes, dark alleys at night, and more, but my biggest fear by far has always been a fear of failure; essentially of letting people down and not being perfect.

Despite this innate fear, or maybe because of it, I did just that.

And I was not alone — the person most important to me in the whole world was tangled up in this hard life lesson. It was in failing, though, that I learned I can overcome anything. Once you learn that, you are unstoppable.

My first marriage began to fall apart when my daughter was just one year old. I didn’t enter into my first marriage lightly and never thought it would fail. My parents divorced at a young age, and it was one thing from which I desperately vowed to protect my children. Here I was, a new mom navigating the ups and downs of early motherhood and I was facing the biggest challenge of my life. My marriage was toxic and abusive, yet I clung on for fear of failure, for fear of letting our daughter down, for fear of the unknown. I was paralyzed by fear.

What scared me the most was my ultimate motivation: my daughter.

Those little eyes were watching me, and I knew it.  It is something that guided every decision I made, and still does to this day. I had no choice. If I taught her through my own inaction that this was normal, that this was how women are supposed to be treated, or even just that it’s ok, that would have been the biggest tragedy and something I simply could not live with.

I got divorced and moved my then 3-year old daughter and myself from Boston to Los Angeles to be close to my incredibly supportive big sister and her family. I landed in Los Angeles, putting one foot in front of the other and holding my daughter tight.

We slowly settled into our new life and I went back to work.

Prior to being a stay-at-home mom in Boston I had worked in communications for financial services companies, and while that was no longer something I wanted to do, I did not have the luxury of a career change. I simply needed to make money.

I later married my current husband James, a loving man who treats me with respect, loves my oldest daughter like his own, and overall just makes my heart happy. We added two more daughters to our family.

As happens to many women, it was after the birth of my children that I began to question my career choices and options.

I deeply wanted to do more meaningful work and support women. As a mom myself, I found a shocking void of resources for what is arguably one of the biggest transitions of a woman’s life. For example, postpartum depression is the number one complication of childbirth, yet the lack of support for women with this condition is staggering. I knew there was a need in my community for a place to bring multiple resources together under one roof, empower moms with research-based curriculum, foster life-long friendships, and create a judgment-free community.

I talked about starting the business with James, as well as my family and friends. I waited. I researched. I waited.

I finally asked myself, “What is truly holding me back?,” and the honest answer was fear of failure.

Once I acknowledged that, it was all over and there was no looking back. I had already failed and I had come out stronger.

I soon created the resource center and community space for expectant parents and new families I had dreamed of, called The Family Room. I wasn’t scared of The Family Room failing, I was scared of never starting it, of never helping moms, of never showing my daughters to go after their dreams with their whole hearts and to take big leaps.

Every day, I choose the opposite of fear at The Family Room.

It is said that fear of failure is known to be the single greatest barrier to success. Today, I don’t consider my divorce a failure at all. I consider it an important part of my path that brought me to exactly where I am today. My business success would not be possible without the hard lessons I learned from my personal challenges.

Maybe you will fail, but maybe you won’t. And if failure looks like learning important lessons, finding strength and truth, being authentic and growing, sign me up. Just don’t fear it.


Karen Stoteraux is the owner and founder of The Family Room — helping families as they transition into parenthood, through education + community, from prenatal to preschool.  Her passion for supporting women is tied to her own experience as a mother and the absence of relevant resources for one of the biggest changes of a family’s life. She lives outside of sunny Los Angeles with her husband and three daughters. Find Karen and The Family Room on Facebook and Instagram

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  • Nancy Mullally

    Karen, you have been an inspiration to me! We both have been through a lot and come a long way since our babies were sooo tiny, and I’m so glad you took that leap and built such an amazing community!

    October 7, 2017 at 1:04 am

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