Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Horrible Mom

What is a horrible mom? Does she really exist? Is she inside of all of us moms, waiting for that moment of fatigue and irritability to reach an all time high so she can jump out and "shine"?

Aren't we all guilty of doing horrible things sometimes? Like, not letting the driver in the left lane with the furious blinking light come over into our lane because we're in such a rush to reach our destination or simply (and more horrible), we just don't feel like it. When we do that, we don't consider ourselves bad drivers, do we? We justify why we did it and move on (hopefully).

Somehow, mothering is the same yet so different. Shouldn't we be able to be more than what we do in moments? Yet sometimes those ever-important, miniscule moments can define our relationships with our offspring as well as shape the people we are or will be.

Is the mother who shakes her crying baby a horrible mother because she lost her temper in an instant? The world thinks so. However, as a mother of a previously colicky baby (and now whining preschooler), I know what it feels like to get lost in the insanity of it all. Sure, I didn't shake my baby, but admittedly, I thought about it. I don't condone child abuse. I do condone mother sensitivity. Sometimes these two overlap uncomfortably, but that's a story for another day.

In class, we learn that all humans are complex systems. Essentially this means that something that seems simple (the mom shaking the baby) really has more components than generally accepted or explored (the mom who shook the baby was dealing with post partum depression, the recent death of her spouse, threats of eviction and overall hopelessness). While complexity doesn't excuse behaviors, it certainly sheds new light on an otherwise dull situation.

I started this post because I have been battling emotions of feeling like a horrible mom. My 3-year old has started to request shows by name and often cries when I turn the televison off. This is new to me as he has just started really watching TV and now seems to be addicted to it. It's definitely my fault, right? I've started using the television as a babysitter more and more. I've got papers to do, job quotas to fill, dinners to make. But, my child couldn't care less about that stuff. He only knows that mom isn't jumping around with him and Dora any more because she's doing "ho-work" (as he calls it). He surely thinks I'm a horrible mother, right?

Does the fact that my children have 3 (mostly) homecooked meals and 2 snacks a day erase my intermittent neglect? Or does the fact that I snuggle and kiss and cuddle them for 30 minutes before bedtime while lavishing them with words of affirmation negate the fact that I sometimes ignore their "fights" and temper tantrums? Where is the line of horrible-ness drawn? And more importantly, have I crossed it?

**Deep Breath**

It's easy to compare ourselves to other moms and feel (wrongly) superior. It's also easy to look at our imagined motherly selves and compare it to the actual mother we have become and feel incredibly melancholy.

The truth is, I'm not better than the (real-life situation) mom who has 5 children with 4 different men, works part-time and receives a substantial amount of government assistance. I'm the same as her in that we're both doing the best that we can for our children in this given moment of time. And above all, we both love our children to the core of our being.

Today, I vow not to let motherhood guilt cause me to abandon my school work or hobbies. I vow to show my children that real mothers are human and flawed. I want them to know I have dreams and goals for myself, as well as for them. It's important that they know that while they are one of my greatest reasons for living, they are not the center of my world because God is. I vow today to present myself as a perfect imperfection--horrible only in small doses and best if taken with milk :-)

1 comment:

  1. Funny but oh so true! You're a great mother by the way.- Steph