Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Mothers Day..

I've never had an experience that makes me second-guess myself--my intelligence, my beliefs--the way that  motherhood does.  It is the single-most amazing, humbling, awe-inducing yet unequivocally frightening thing a woman can choose to do. I analyze every choice I make, every word that I say in a way that probably borders on unhealthy because this is something that I want to do "the right way".

For me, self-doubt is par for the course. I'm constantly fighting this inner battle of "Am I a good enough mother?" "Will doing _________ make me a bad mom?" I'm sure the fact that my own childhood was less-than-perfect (and I know--we all have our childhood issues...) plays a part in this crazy over-analysis of myself--I want my kids to always feel like they live in a stable environment where they can just be who they are, where we can work through their problems calmly and thoughtfully without fear of repercussions. Just another item on the list of things I'm working through in an attempt to better myself.

So, along those lines of good mental health, and in the spirit of Mothers Day, I'm going to do something that is both cathartic to me and hopefully reassuring to you mothers out there. I'm going to make a list of why I think I am a bad mother. Yes--you read that right. On Mothers Day, I'm going to tell you why I am NOT a good mom.  Here we go.

Why I am a bad mother:
  • Sometimes, I enjoy time away from my kids.  Whether it's just a girls' night out, or a shopping trip to Trader Joe's sans-kids, I like some me-time. I honestly do not want to be with my kids 24/7. I need time to breathe, to do things for myself.
  • Sometimes, I feed my kids crappy foods.  We probably eat fast food once every week or two, and pizza is a weekly meal in our house. Sometimes, they eat Campbell's soup for dinner. Sometimes, veggie chips are the only vegetables on their plates. I let them drink juice regularly. We don't eat organic all that often.
  • My kids eat candy. Sometimes I even bribe them with it. They know some candy by name.
  • There are times where I hate playing outside with the kids. After a long day, I just want to sit on my rear and do nothing, and the thought of going out there and being engaged with them, playing their games is like the very last thing I want to do.
  • I don't work with my kids on academic 'stuff'. I'm a teacher, y'all.  We don't practice letters, numbers, etc. on a regular basis. Amelia cannot write her name. Anderson can't identify many letters.
  • My kids watch TV. They watch at least a little bit every day. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, all the PBS shows, sometimes a movie. I've even been known to put on a movie so that I can "rest my eyes" on a Friday afternoon.

I could go on and on there. All of the things that I do or allow that make me feel that mama guilt. That pang that resides in the back of my brain, that makes me feel inferior to other mothers who "do it better".

BUT...there are things that I think I do well as a mom. Things that make me proud, happy, self-assured throughout this chaotic experience called parenthood.  It would be unfair not to list those as well. So, here's a list of why I think I am a GOOD mom--to counter-act the bad.

Why I am a good mother:

  • I am in tune with my kids' feelings and moods. I can quickly ascertain when someone is feeling 'off', grouchy, or just upset. I can diffuse a titchy situation quickly and calmly. I can redirect like a mutha.
  • I tell my kids how much I love them about a zillion times a day. I kiss their heads and cheeks constantly. I scratch their backs, rub their heads, tell them that they're the most special people in the world. I make sure to compliment them when they do things well. I am conscious of not just complimenting their looks with too many "You are so cute!" comments; I tell them "You are so smart!" as often as I can.
  • I encourage independent exploration and allow them to have opportunities to learn from their own experiences. I am not a "helicopter mom" (or I try not to be), and I try not to say no to any requests that I know will help them grow intellectually in the long run.  I may not sit down and drill them on letters and numbers, but I teach them things about every day life. Lately, we've talked about how caterpillars become butterflies, how rainbows are formed, what's in the big water tower on Old Frankfort Pike.
  • I have more patience than I ever knew was possible.  I consciously do not overreact to little things that they do that are frustrating (like last night when they took the Q-Tips out of my bathroom and threw them all over the bedroom, pretending they were planting seeds...). As a kid, I was totally afraid of messing up in that way, and I never want my kids to be that afraid of me or Marty. Not saying that they don't get into trouble, but we handle the situations without inducing feelings of fear.
  • My kids are good humans. They know how to be kind, that people deserve respect. They know how to love, how to use manners and be respectful to others. This is because of me.

Now. Compare the two lists. Which is more important in raising children?  Which will get them farthest in the world--which will have the biggest pay-off in the long run?  Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this. Okay, I have to remind myself of this all the time. Like daily.

Mothers out there--you ARE good enough. You DO enough. You are making the decisions that are right for you and your family--and they might be different decisions than mine, but they're good decisions. I encourage you--if you want to see how fabulous, how wonderful you are, make your own lists. You'll be so glad that you did.

Happy Mothers Day...

2 comments:

  1. Sheri Setser-LeggMay 13, 2013 at 5:55 AM

    Wendy,

    I wanted to tell you I have been so impressed and moved by the postings I have seen. My sister, Paula, has sent me several things you have written and I have both laughed and cried. I so appreciate Moms who do not act like that they or their children are perfect. My 3 yo made a picture for me at preschool that was titled "I love my mommy because..." Others kids had said "because she gives me kisses" or "because she reads to me." Touching, right? My kid said "because she lets me have Rice Krispy treats." Not as touching but, hey, at least she didn't say "for breakfast." Because, some mornings, I take the path of least resistance and give the RK treat vs. fight the tears when we have 2 minutes to get out of the house on time.

    Props to you! This has made my morning :)

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    1. Hey Sheri! Thanks so much for the message. That is EXACTLY why I write this blog--to show the most real side of parenting possible. I read a lot of blogs--a LOT--and there's so much pressure to "do it right"...I just want to show that you don't have to do it ALL to raise happy, loving, compassionate kids who will make wonderful citizens. So glad you read and enjoy! Thanks for commenting! :-)

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