by Cindy Anderson
*** This article, "Bad Mommy Moments I don't feel guilty about," was originally published on Feb. 11, 2013. We wanted to share it again before Mothers Day this weekend in an effort to help avoid any more mommy guilt.***
“I think I’ve messed my kids up for life” was the first thing I heard when I answered the phone–on the other end was my daughter.
Don’t we all have those mommy moments or sometimes mommy days? We all think, “Oh no, I have broken my child.” The truth is, we will all send our kids out the door with baggage; they will marry someone with his or her baggage and together they will combine their suitcases and create baggage of their own for their children.
How can we not? We are imperfect, and these children of ours don’t come down with a manual (not that men would read the directions anyway…) the truth is, we simply don’t know what we are doing.
We are pregnant for nine months and can’t wait to have these babies. We go to the hospital where a team of nurses is always there to make sure the baby is safe. But there comes the time when they tell you, “Good-bye” and it is just you, your spouse and the baby and you realize you are in over your heads. We spend the rest of our children’s childhood trying to look like we know what we are doing.
At first, we don’t know what’s important and what’s not; and so everything is. We don’t know yet that all 6 month old babies knock books of the shelves, they all scream when they are put down, they all run faster than us, disappear in a wink of an eye, fall down, get stitches, sometimes (and I’m not admitting anything here) get left at church… they all say ‘no’ first and ‘yes’ as only a last resort. They say dada before mama and all of them eventually are out of diapers before kindergarten.
We don’t know yet that kids are resilient and—short of real abuse both physical and mental –the things we say and do that “aren’t right” mix in with all those things we do and say that “are right” and from this come these amazing adults, who armed with their lists of “things I will never say to my children”, have children of their own who call you up one day because they have said the very things they swore they would never say. It’s just the circle of life.
I think, after raising seven children with my husband, the yardstick that says, “Do your best everyday” is the measure we should go by when placing judgments of success or failure on our parenting skills. Sometimes your best isn’t very good, but it was your best. Tomorrow, you will get up and do your best again, and it will be better.
Sometimes, we do go over the edge and say something or over react to something they do and say. Apologize, ask for forgiveness and do better. Move on. Some things though, let’s face it—the kids drove you to it.
It is in that spirit that I give you a few examples of my bad mommy moments I don’t feel guilty about:
1. Daughter: I am going to run away
Mom: Let me get you a suitcase
2. After telling my teenage son to go to bed—no exaggeration—100 times! (a little exaggeration but not much)
Me: I don’t want to see your face again until morning
3. After not minding and some back talking from my middle school aged son, I told him “If you don’t stop doing that I will take off your arm and beat you with it” Ok, so I feel a little guilty about that one.
4. Son- age 8ish: I wish I had different parents!
Me: Great- I will help you-go get the phone book- let’s start with the A’s.’
5. After a Saturday of chores or some other such horrible torture my adolescent daughter said,
I am going to turn you into CPS
Me: Ok, great
Daughter: They will put you in jail
Me: Awesome, finally a good night’s sleep
Bill Cosby said, “I don’t care who is right, I only want it quiet” I love that quote. Parenting takes a lot of patience and work. But mostly it takes a lot of humor. Stand firm on the things that are important, don’t sweat over the things that are not. Families are messy—do your best and don’t miss the amazing experience of watching someone grow and learn and discover who they are and what they are capable of. In the end, you will send them off in the world equipped and armed to face life just as they saw you live. You will see them doing their best, making and recovering from mistakes, being courageous and constant with humor and love, knowing that home is the place where they can always come back- baggage and all.