Back in the day when I was a mother of one child…a long, long, long time ago in a land far, far away, I used to attend on a semi-regular basis a young mothers’ Bible study. I met up with these women with the hopes of enjoying adult interaction and to get to know better the moms of the children my daughter Holly played with. I was a casual attendee because I was juggling college and then career. Still I was accepted and included because Holly was close friends with many of the kids and perhaps because I was fun to hang out with…oh and I was the token “working mother” as we were known as back in the 80s. I remember one particular gathering where after answering curious questions about my exciting new job as an RN in a NICU it came time for praying and sharing. The young mom to my left jumped right in and shared first:
I just want to offer my thanks to God that I am soooo lucky to be blessed with a wonderful husband who provides so well for our family that I don’t have to work and allow strangers raise my precious babies and that I can be home to care for my husband and precious babies where I belong.
Everyone in our circle nodded their heads in affirmation and a few whispered “amen”.
Holly grew as did our family and through the years it seems that I never have quite fit in with the playgroup mommies, the La Leche League mommies, the playground mommies, the room mommies, the yard duty mommies, the PTA moms, the soccer moms, the cheer moms and so on. I certainly never was the only mom who worked part time or full time outside the home…well, except for that particular Bible study group. But it seemed that my parenting style never quite measured up. I didn’t hover enough. I hovered too much. I didn’t enjoy sorting and stapling worksheets for teachers. My snacks were store bought. I wasn’t sitting at every single practice or rehearsal for whatever activity the kids were involved with because I was either working or juggling another kid’s activity across town. I looked like I literally rolled out of bed when I picked up my kids from school…because working 7 PM to 7 AM I DID just roll out of bed. The reasons were so many. I just never quite measured up to the perceived ideal of other mothers.
I was judged.
Here’s where I confess that I was just as judge-y of what I perceived as bad parenting. In my workplace I have certainly seen many examples, on the surface, of bad parenting and sometimes I would make assumptions…then I would get the rest of the story and often feel ashamed of myself. I am (in the eyes of others) a bad mother just as much as I assumed last week that mother who allowed her snotty nosed kid to run amuck, try to go through my purse and slime me with his snot is a bad mother. In someone else eyes we parents are bad parents. There is no getting around it.
In the interwebs lately there seems to be this kerfluffle over others who blog referring to themselves as “bad mothers”. “Bad mother bloggers” are the new black. But then again, maybe it isn’t so cool to be a “bad mother” blogger. Truth be told, some of my favorite bloggers out there are bloggers who got their start writing about their “bad” parenting. I have been known to write about my own adventures as a bad mama. I like these writers and I enjoy writing about my own misadventures because I like the reality of it all because being a parent is not pretty. There is always poop, snot, vomit, brattiness and exhaustion involved. It’s mixed right in there with the love, the pride and the hugs and kisses. I gladly point out my failings as a mother before anyone else can because I now know that other people’s opinions of my mothering skills don’t matter at all.
What matters most and is ultimately the proof of mad, bad mama skills is my children…my children who themselves have said to my face…to other people…that I am a great mom! Okay, fine, I admit it. Only two of my children have put it out there that I am a great mom. Two are teenagers still who can sometimes be mortified because I am their mom and resent that they do have chores and a curfew and the youngest is just beyond irritated that I want him to eat his dinner. But the ultimate proof is watching my own child as a mother. There are some things she does differently than me but in her I see my mommy reflection and I know that I have, thus far, done a pretty good job at this mommy-gig.