Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Mother Confessions

A couple nights ago, I finally had a chance to watch "Sex and the City 2" (thank goodness for DVDs, because let's face it, otherwise I'd never see movies). I loved the movie -- not because of anything specifically great about it, but because it's simply another adventure with the girls -- and I especially loved one scene in particular. In this scene, Miranda wants Charlotte to loosen up a little about what's bothering her, and her efforts turn their time together into an impromptu drinking game of "bad mother confessions." Miranda is thankful that she's a working mom, Charlotte is thankful to get away from her kids for a few days, they're both thankful for live-in help (and wonder aloud how other moms do it on their own, ha!). They both admit these things with tears and guilty laughter, and I admit to laughing along with tears in my own eyes. SO MUCH of motherhood is guilt. Neverending, unrelenting, always-whispering-in-your-ear kind of guilt. So as a bit of catharsis, here's my own list of bad mother confessions (drink along if you want):
  • If my kids don't develop perfectly on schedule according to a consensus of childcare books and what the Internet says, then obviously I'm failing as a mother. Even if my pediatrician tells me otherwise. And says the Internet is wrong.
  • I don't record every waking moment of their lives. I read some blogs where moms write down everything. And I mean, everything. I get exhausted just reading the blog posts, so I have no idea how these moms do it.
  • I don't have my kids (namely, Will) involved in 800 community and kid's events and programs. I don't even have him in 1 program. Because, honestly, I live in a crappy community, I don't know anyone here, and oh yeah, I have a 3-month-old that I'd have to drag along. But these facts don't assuage my guilt.
  • My children live far away from their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. And even though we're trying desperately to change this situation, I still feel worse than pond scum when we drive away from Indiana after a visit. Like I'm somehow in control of the situation! But this doesn't make me feel better.
  • I feel bad about letting Will watch "too much" TV (what is that, anyway?). I feel bad about feeding Lucy formula. I feel bad if we don't get outside every day. I feel bad if I spend "too much" time with Lucy and "not enough" with Will. If I'm spending time exclusively with one child, then that means one child is getting the shaft (if that child happens to be awake). And this makes me crazy with guilt.
  • If Will finds a crumb on the floor and puts it in his mouth, then I have obviously failed to provide a clean environment for my child. If Will stumbles on something or pinches his finger in something, then I have obviously failed to provide a safe environment for my child.

I was semi-joking with Marty and Jessie last night over dinner when I told them that, sometimes, Will looks at me like, "I'm on to you, Mom. You've never done this before, have you?" And I just want to crumple up and shout "YES! It's true, I'm a complete novice! I don't know what the heck I'm doing! I'm just trying to survive here! And keep you guys safe and clean and fed, and I can't manage anything beyond that most days!!!"

Clearly, I need to loosen up myself. I know this. I envy those moms who seem to roll with each skinned knee and tantrum and poopy blowout. I'm not there yet. And to help get me there, I've decided to take a bit of a hiatus from blog-reading and Internet searches on child development and just all the other things that drive me crazy with feelings of inadequacy. I'm even thinking of taking a break from Facebook (too addicted) and email (too neglected anyway). I need to hunker down and really find some new focus, and learn to allow myself to be the mom that I want to be, not the mom that I feel I should be in comparison to others. And give myself a break! I had 2 babies in less than 13 months, so I think I deserve it!!!

I've promised to write so many posts here and I still intend to write those posts. And I've promised myself to get caught up in a zillion other areas. And I will. But it's time to take a deep breath. Life has been a whirlwind and I need to stand still, get my bearings, and forge a clear path ahead, unhampered by outrageous expectations of myself. Wish me luck! (And if you'd like, come pour me a drink and share a confession or two of your own!)


Kate said...

Wait, did you just say you're taking a break from email???

No, that isn't the only thing I walked with from this post, but....

My biggest "bad mom" confession is one of yours: when I'm paying attention to the more needy child (of the moment), the other gets nothin'. Right now, Jack gets most moments of my day when I have all these wonderful things I want to do with Adele. She has more fun with babysitters than her own mom. :(

Mary said...

Oh, Becky...Have you *read* the book I bought you?

I know where you're coming from, though. I have my guilt-filled days, too. It's perfectly normal!

And I know exactly what you're talking about concerning "the look" you get from Will. I have the feeling that sometimes my kids are thinking, "Amateur." Or even, "Of all the moms in the world, you're the one I get stuck with?"

But then 10 minutes later Ethan will tell me, "I love you, Mom. You're the best!" And Rowan will remind me, "You're pretty; you're a princess."

And I think, "Maybe I'll get the hang of this motherhood thing after all." :)

Becky said...

Kate -- I won't leave email completely, but I AM going to stop feeling guilty about all the emails I haven't responded to yet; I will carve out time when I have a chance and I'm just NOT going to worry about it until then!

Mary -- I read the book you gave me -- cover to cover! Perhaps it's time for a re-read. I just have "bad mom" feelings 24/7 these days and children who are too young to say "I love you." In fact, sometimes their looks of complete trust and joy (Lucy especially on this) make me want to apologize to them for not being the mom they so clearly think I am and so very much deserve!

Sarah said...

Oh, the guilt. Me and guilt are best friends these days. Guilt comes calling when I am holding one of the girls and the other looks at me like, "What about me, Mom?". Yeah, a kick in the gut. Gets me every time.

I know that most of this is self-inflicted guilt. I have to cut myself some slack and realize that I am only one person. I am not SuperWoman. I do the best I can everyday and that's enough.

Ok, off to have that drink now!

Kristen said...

Believe me, any good mom feels bad for having missed out on something, many things every day. I don't envy you juggling two so little. Motherhood is hard no matter what version of it you've got.

Sometimes poor Anna is more like luggage than our baby. She's hauled to every scout event and game played with a ball out there! It's parent-teacher conferences and ball games and birthday parties 24/7 and there she is in her pink stroller on the sidelines! I feel badly that she's already walking from the couch to the tv, because I think she's doing it just to keep up with the pace of the rest of the 4 of us - she doesn't want to be left in a room.

I feel bad when we eat pizza on twice in a week or that no one's eaten a green veggie more than once in a week. I wish I could juggle this f/t job AND keep on top of the laundry, the budget, the stacks and stacks and stacks of papers they send home from school.....

But, at the end of the day when it's time for everyone to head off to bed, I know that we're all so blessed. We have a home and heat and food and everything we NEED. And I know that they aren't keeping score of how long it took me to get the basket of laundry put away or wash the dishes. They're loved by two parents who love each other only second to God. THAT'S what mine will remember (and what yours will, too).

Mary said...

Although Will and Lucy aren't able to say the words yet, "I love you" is in their laughter and their smiles. It's in their eyes when they wake up from naptime and your face is the first they see.

It's in the way they cuddle up into that special spot just under your chin when they nod off to sleep, and in the sloppy, slobbery kisses they're just learning to give.

It's in the way they reach for you when no one else will do, and in the way their faces brighten when they hear your voice.

And, most importantly, my lovely Becky, it's in their hearts. (I guarantee it.)

Becky said...

Mary, you really shouldn't give a woman on the edge a reason to cry! How beautiful was that??? My heavens, you need to be published in a BAD way, friend!
I needed to hear that. I just don't want to let them down. They're such amazing little people and I love them so much...