Hail to the “Bad Mommy” Moment
When I started this blog last fall, I was ready to write about the many vivid experiences I’ve had over the past few years as a way of sharing and offering hope to others who may face similar challenges. At the time, I said flat-out that this is not an advice column.
Certainly you will not get parenting advice from me. First of all, I am dancing as fast as I can with my one daughter and soon-to-be stepson. So I am supremely unqualified; I’m sure you know more than I do. And frankly, I loathe the whole “mommy lit” genre and think most of it: a) is written to allay the fears of the writer or enter the writer in the aforementioned female pissing contest (see last blog); and b) makes no sense, since what works for one kid, more often than not, won’t for another. Like I said before, there is no cookie cutter way to parent. Because kids ain’t cookies.
But after my last post, I feel like I need to do a little bit of cheerleading to the moms (and sometimes dads) out there. The good news is, I got enough feedback to believe I didn’t make all this stuff up about our generation being a little too obsessional/worried about the way we parent. The unfortunate news is, if it is true that maybe we’re overthinking it, well, that’s probably not a good thing for us.
So, for those of you suffering from parent angst, I’d like to take a moment to be your cheerleader. I know you’re doing a better job than you give yourself credit for. Really. If you don’t believe me, because I may not be there to see it, OK, that’s fair. So go ask your husband (or wife). And then really listen to his (her) answer. Ask your best friend. And then listen to her answer. Would they lie to you? No! If you’re still feeling unsure, ask for specifics. Then listen. Repeat as necessary.
Here’s one little thing I do that helps me–and maybe it is sort of advice (but it’s not really parenting advice). When you have a less-than-stellar parenting day, where you wish there was a “replay” button, call it a Bad Mommy Moment™ (or Bad Daddy Moment™, or come up with your own term that works for you). My Bad Mommy Moments™ (BMM) help me deal with my imperfect actions and move on. After I’ve christened it a de facto BMM, I usually either: a) vent to spouse and seek reassurance that I’m not evil; or b) apologize to child; or, if needed, c) both. I acknowledge my sub-par performance, take action to rectify, take a deep breath to clear my head, and then I move on. There. Because it is a moment. I do not live in that bad mommy place, because I am not evil or usually a bad mommy. I had a bad moment. (As in moment in time–because one snappish evening is really a moment in time, in the grand scheme of things.)
More than anyone, my second-grade daughter has taught me that perfectionism is more curse than attribute. I’ve seen first-hand how her perfectionism has frustrated her and held her back. With the help of some fantastic teachers, though, she is now able to fully immerse herself in activities like art, reading and writing instead of stopping dead in her tracks at the first sign of a mistake. Though she is a natural student with an innately curious mind, E’s perfectionist streak is her biggest learning challenge.
Finally, when you have a “Good Mommy Moment™” (GMM), acknowledge that. Maybe just to yourself if you don’t want to seem like you’re bragging. But take a moment to feel good about yourself and the fun day you just shared with your kids. I am willing to bet there are far more of those than the bad ones.