I think that feeling like a bad mom is something most of us go through. Some of us feel that way occasionally and some of us actually feel like a bad mom more often than not.
Me? In my heart of hearts I know I’m not really a bad mom as I’d define one. And I know that my friends who sometimes wonder if they’re getting this whole parenting thing right aren’t bad moms, either. But in the end we all feel like bad moms on those particularly bad days when it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong.
What I think is that so long as you’re not playing mind games with your children, abusing them or letting someone else abuse them, or otherwise neglecting them, things like TV, Lunchables, too much Easter candy, Barbie Dolls, toy guns, and beauty pageants are not going to ruin them for life.
There’s a lot to be said for plenty of love, mostly good food, family fun, and an environment of trust – all of which, I think, can undo a multitude of minor parenting sins.
Then again, I’ve definitely had my share of those days where bedtime has finally come and gone, and I’ve looked straight at the mister and said “I was not a good person today.” I suppose I could say that it’s my mothering that’s lacking, but fact is that my children are just the convenient receptacles for my irritation because they are there in front of me. If I worked in an office, I would have been barking at my coworkers or the Keureg or the #@$% guy driving the giant SUV who cut me off on my evening commute.
What’s lucky for me is that children tend to be forgiving if the love and the trust and the fun (and the food) are all there in spades. A day when mama’s sanity is just hanging by a thread, a day when she’s the one crying over the spilled milk and throwing ‘tude, isn’t the end of the world.
My children may not understand what the heck is going on because that thing that’s driving me crazy, whatever that thing might be in any given moment, maybe a legit pasta wig or an impromptu tabletop tap routine, was plain hilarious yesterday and now it’s just ticking me off something fierce, but they also know the raincloud hanging over my head (and consequently theirs) isn’t going to be there forever.
In fact, both of my children have wowed me by responding to that raincloud by saying “Mama, I don’t like it when you’re so stressed out” or “Look what I did – can you be happy now, mama?” This is both overpoweringly charming and slightly distressing at once. The same goes for that innate innocent childish forgiveness, which is heartrendingly beautiful because your children forgive you, but you wish they didn’t have to.
Not that children don’t also have those days when, if they had the vocabulary, their last words before drifting off to sleep would be “I was not a good person today.” And of course, we parents (hopefully) forgive them.
I don’t know what it’s like in your family, but at our house, we’re quick to say sorry and mostly quick to forgive. Grownups, too. The mister and I have never pretended to be anything but human. We try to make sure our parental sins are minor. Snapping when we’re in a hurry. Finishing someone’s apple slices without asking. Forgetting that we said we’d paint in the afternoon. That sort of thing. Tiny annoyances in the grand scheme of family. Maybe it won’t always be so easy, for either the grownups or the kids or both, but we’re laying down a foundation of forgiveness early on.
That way, it doesn’t matter who is saying “I was not a good person today.” Whether it’s me or the mister or the P. or eventually Bo, we all get to start over with a clean slate, every day.
And thank God for that, right?