- Okay, I’m really going to do it. I’m going to take the advice repeated by thousands of other mothers: “Cut yourself some slack and realize that there are no perfect mothers. Tell yourself and really believe that you ARE a GOOD mom.”
I’d love to cut myself some slack, but the scissors are missing. My toddler probably stole them while I was mopping and proceeded to run at top speed…possibly on his way to stab the baby’s eyes. I know there are no perfect mothers, but it seems that with the thousands of books, pintrest posts and blogs out there, we have gotten REALLY good at lying. The bricks with which we build our facades are very impressive. In fact, they now have matching solar panels so that we can be eco-friendly (unlike that horrible mother who uses disposable diapers and occasionally supplements with formula! I saw her give her kid a hot dog once… and it was NOT organic, gluten-free or kosher!) There are hundreds of blogs and articles out there encouraging young parents through this exceptionally challenging time of life, and God bless the authors for it. While I could happily join in, I’ll just refer you to this one, which encouraged me today:
Instead, I offer these confessions in the hopes that my fellow mothers will realize that we are ALL struggling.
Confession 1: I’ve had about all I can take of the Breastfeeding Brigade. During my first home visit by the Child Development Services for my 4 month old, I was asked if I am exclusively breastfeeding and how it was going. After months of advice, articles, sugar-coated judgments and being purple-nurpled by strange nurses in my sleepy stupor, I was a bit testy on the subject. I answered, “He has really improved and is doing great, but he cluster feeds at night and I just can’t keep up. I finally gave up and started supplementing just a few ounces of formula at night.” (She stared at me blankly, so I continued.) “I also lace it with cyanide, because as we know, formula is poison and only horrible mothers supplement.” She just widened her eyes, stared at her clipboard and said, “Moving on…” Oops. My mouth runneth over.
Confession 2: On most days, I want to give baby signing the middle finger. Several months ago my poor husband came home to me nearly in tears because I had spent MONTHS trying to teach my son a few basic signs. It seemed every other toddler could sign and dozens of friends had provided advice on ‘how to teach him correctly’. Keeping calm and not feeling pressured was NOT happening. As I broke down into a puddle my Beloved gently told me how ridiculous I sounded as I wailed, “How did I EVER teach in a classroom? I can’t even teach my kid to sign! He’d rather starve! He just hits my hands! He HATES me! He’ll never come home for Thanksgiving! People are asking what is WRONG with him and telling me I am not doing it right!”
Bewildered, my husband asked, “WHO?!”
(Sob) “The people whose kids are signing the words to the Star Spangled Banner in French as we speak!” Thus, the need for an emergency chocolate supply was confirmed. Now that Secondborn has arrived and we know he has special needs, the importance of signing is back in the limelight, thanks to doctors, therapists, friends, and strangers at the grocery store. Yes, I’m going to sign. Whether he will or not remains to be seen. On my ‘mommy fail’ days, the weight of the signing struggle piles onto the rift-filled foundation of my confidence.
Confession 3: I often think boy behavior and dog behavior are the same. Yesterday I took a quick break to sweep the floor. Good moms don’t allow their sons to live in squalor. As I finished sweeping, I realized Firstborn had located and reached the open Cheerios box and created a minefield. Halfway through sweeping I decided to take a picture. Rather than wake the baby, I waited to vacuum. Naturally, Firstborn went back to eat the Cheerios. I let him.
Confession 4: I sometimes want to smack well-meaning older ladies. I also blink repeatedly, wishing I could just “blink and miss it” when my kids are being heathen babies. A woman saw my two sons (under age two) and asked when I would try for a girl. She is the 1,000 person to ask. It began the very minute (literally) after I knew Secondborn was male. I told her to ask me once I could sleep through the night and that the next person who asked would be told to drop dead. I know they mean well and are talking to their younger selves, but in the middle of young motherhood it feels like a clean and fed reporter just dropped into the warzone and asked for an interview. If you’re going to tell me my hands are full, pick up the dropped sippy cup and get the door you dear, sweet lady. I am sure you are a lovely person who bakes a mean pie for the homeless but right now I want to knock out your teeth.
Confession 5: I get really jealous and insecure about potty training. Worse, this week both the boys audibly pooped at the same time immediately after diaper changes. I threw up my hands and yelled, “Everybody STOP POOPING!” There have been moments in the past 3 years of pregnancy and mothering when I have been thankful I’ve made it to the potty in time. When I see children younger than my son, who turns 2 next month, in Facebook pictures sitting on the potty chair reading “War and Peace- a picture book”, I have to remind myself that it is okay and normal to still be wiping his rear. On overload one day, I told a woman who was giving advice that she was welcome to come to my house and help me potty train my son because at this rate he would be in diapers in college. I was half serious. I kinda still am.
Confession 6: My kid flings food and toys like a monkey flings poo. I’ve smacked hands. I’ve been stern. I’ve taken him out of his chair and spanked him immediately. When both kids are eating but one has to be held to do so, my prevention skills are diminished. I know he is old enough to stop. I have moved his chair. I’ve changed his food. I’ve made dinner-time-discipline a nightly occurrence, but my walls still look like a Jackson Pollock painting on most nights. The hardened spaghetti noodles in my blinds attest to the fact that I MUST be doing it wrong. As for toys- everything is a projectile in this house. Vigilance is a way of life.
Confession 7: I want to live out, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join em!” and throw a hissy fit in the store when I don’t get my way. Furthermore, I sometimes feel that if I would get tasered for such behavior in public, my child should too. I often feel that my child’s behavior is a reflection of my parenting, not his age. The constant barrage of “this is what I did” or “my kids didn’t/ did”… doesn’t help. It makes me never want to post a humorous moment of struggle on Facebook again. When I feel my performance is measured by the results I see, it gets the best of me. It’s hard to remember that the seeds I sow may look unproductive now, but will raise a bumper crop in a few years. I can’t do it all. I can’t do what I want to when I want to. It makes me want to cry and hit people. Sadly, I can’t put myself in time out without the house being destroyed.
Confession 8: I think there are VERY good reasons why “Honor they father and mother” is right next to “Thou shall not murder.” This doesn’t need explanation. Thus saith the Lord should do it.
Confession 9: I sometimes get frustrated at what God gave me. I usually rejoice over the amazing qualities of my kids and the blessings they are, but fighting the will of 2 children doing the opposite of what I want crushes me. There are days I just want to shed the “Special Needs Mom” label and sob for the struggles that my son has that aren’t his fault. I want to scream at the kind person who reminds me my sons are blessings and that God is using me as I raise my stubborn firstborn. I feel guilty when I want to hide in a closet from the children the doctors thought I had a 30% chance of having. I fear that one day my children will get rich writing a book about all the ways I screwed them up. I sometimes believe the ridiculous comments that my strong-willed firstborn will be a troublemaker and needs to be straightened out before he ends up on the news. I sometimes don’t want to repent after picturing myself punching out the people who discourage me or use ‘the r word’. I have to remind myself constantly that following God is not easy and that he is perfect even when I am not.
Confession 10: I have NO prayer of being a perfect mom. Sadly, neither do you. I have no clue how to accept it. If Mary, the mother of Christ couldn’t be a perfect mother, there is no hope for the rest of us. The Bible says she had other children that weren’t infallible, but for a while her only child was PERFECT. Sinless. Yet she still messed up. A trip to Jerusalem resulted in a three day long Amber alert for Jesus. (See the blog Mary Moms for a brief reminder of all Mary went through raising Jesus!)
So forgive me, Mommas, for I have judged. I’ve judged you out of frustration and insecurity, but I’ve judged myself MUCH more harshly. You’re not alone, struggling moms. You can be honest. It might make you feel better. On the other hand, it may allow CPS to come get my kids based on blog evidence. Either way, cut yourself some slack. There is no such thing as a perfect mom.
Please, rather than look on with a sympathetic smile or a cliche non-helpful comment, tell a fellow mom that she is doing a great job. She needs to hear it.