What is a “good” mom, anyway?
I don’t have a lot of confidence in anything I do, but one thing I have known for a long time is that I’m a good mom. Tangibles and intangibles, my kids know they are safe and loved.
It’s my fear of everyone else out there.
After I had Kathleen I had my first major depressive episode in the form of post-partum depression. My brain betrayed me in ways that were horribly cruel and vicious. And while a chemical imbalance had a lot to do with it, there were some other bitches that kept the monster fed. And yes, I say bitches because they were all women.
The mother judging starts before you even leave the hospital. My daughter’s birth was traumatic in every sense of the word. We were in and out of the OR twice as her heart rate dropped and stabilized. She needed the NICU right after and they had so much trouble finding my blood pressure that at one point a nurse asked, “Are you still with us?” and I thought I was going to die. Good times.
That night, I was exhausted, Bill was exhausted, everyone was exhausted. And I planned to have my baby sleep in the nursery so I could catch up a bit. When I asked, the nurse said, “Really? Most new moms want their babies to stay in the room with them.”
Fuck. I was screwing it up already.
The next day, a nurse was going to show me how to breast feed. She fondly came to be known as the Breast Nazi as she pushed and pulled and squeezed. When I dared to ask, “What should I do with this arm?” her response was, “YOU aren’t going to do anything.”
Welcome to motherhood.
So, even though I am confident that I am nurturing good human beings, I have still always been afraid of what others think. I don’t volunteer at the school. I don’t bring in treats for the teachers during teacher appreciation week. I don’t coach my kids’ teams or make snow angels with them and cut their sandwiches into cute little Pinterest-worthy shapes.
But I’m slowly saying fuck it more and more.
Moms– you know what I’m getting at here. There are moms who I admire immensely for having the time and skill to knit elf hats for the entire class for the school play and look like they just stepped out from a photo shoot to arrive in time for pick up after school.
But there are other moms like me who forget my kid is supposed to wear red for the school play and have shown up so late for pick up that I have to do the walk of shame into the office and prove my identity to drive my own child home. Seriously, I was met by no fewer than five adults all waiting for the negligent parent. Posing for the mug shot was the worst.
And both kinds of moms and all in between have their own shit going on and their own ideas and their own parenting styles and I’m friends with moms of all types.
So why all the fucking judging?
Some of it is perceived, by all means, but most of that shit is real. We get judged if we let a kid thrash on the floor in a tantrum. We get judged if we don’t have a kid potty trained by two years old. We get judged if we give our kid a $10 and say, “Cranberry and vodka on the rocks, and let the bartender keep the change.”
But I finally had a moment today where I said FUCK THIS SHIT. It was minutes before we were to leave for my son’s birthday party and all of a sudden I remembered:
I had forgotten to get goodie bags for the kids.
I went into a full tailspin. I uttered, “Oh SHIT!” Loud enough for all to hear. Everyone asked, what? and I couldn’t even respond. My husband came over and I whispered my crime to him in horror. How could I forget? What would happen? Would my son be disappointed? And the moms, what about the moms??? Was my boy going to be doomed never to receive another invitation to a party because his mom was an ungrateful bitch?
I almost lost it and cuddled the dog and retreated to a happy place.
I confessed my sin and Derek was fine with it. And the party went really well.
At one point I even admitted, embarrassed, to a couple of moms that I had forgotten all about goodie bags. This, of course, was to feel them out and see if I would be ostracized. They could not have been nicer about it and not one kid asked where they were when the party was over.
And I didn’t feel badly about myself anymore.
Derek had a blast. His friends had a blast. I had a headache.
On the way home, Derek said, “Thank you for my party, Mama,” and that sealed it.
I was a good mom.