I screwed up. Not in a “I used salt instead of sugar in those cookies” kind of screwed up. More like a “I now feel like a total asshole mother” kind of screwed up. It wasn’t over anything major, but to my fifth grade daughter it was kind of a big deal. Now I have this immense feeling of guilt. Mom guilt. Different from any other guilt you will ever feel and it sucks.
This isn’t the first time I have dropped the ball on something. I have forgotten to take someone to a birthday party, or missed that meeting about an activity. I have forgotten to call little Susie’s mom to see if Susie can come over for a sleepover. As parents we have unlimited opportunity for failure. Every second of every day presents us with an opportunity to fuck something up. There is no other job on the planet that you can enter into with absolutely no training whatsoever and then be left to deal with the pressure, the guilt, and the repercussions of not doing something right.
When I took that first job flipping hamburgers, I wasn’t allowed to start cooking the hamburgers right away. Hell no. I had to master the potato peeling and onion chopping first. I had to be able to make perfect patties and golden brown french fries before I could be trusted with the spatula and a hot grill. I received on the job training before being entrusted with the important tasks. There is no on the job training that comes along with parenthood. Sure, there are thousands of parenting books that you can peruse. There are millions upon millions of magazine and internet articles that you can sort through and read. Most likely you have friends or acquaintances that you can ask for advice. The thing is, your parenting skills will be completely different from everyone else’s. Don’t fall for the ideal of being the “perfect” parent. You are just setting yourself up for disappointment. You will be a GREAT parent, but there is no such thing as the “perfect” one.
At some point we have all royally screwed up something for our kids. Maybe we have that day that we didn’t make the time to play that board game. Maybe we forgot to write that letter of encouragement for them to read before their state assessment tests. Maybe we were taking a few seconds to read an email instead of watching them go down the slide. Maybe we were busy writing a piece for a book and didn’t spend the afternoon giving our kids scissors and glue guns. It doesn’t mean we love them any less or that we wish that they didn’t exist, it just means that we as parents are so consumed with trying to prove to everyone else that we can do everything when in reality we are drowning in our own sea of over scheduling and pressure to overachieve, present company included.
Am I a failure as a mother because my kids are currently parked in front of the television long enough for me to finish this post? No I’m not. Do I feel a slight twinge of guilt that I am doing that? Absolutely. Does it mean that I am lazy parent who only focuses on her needs instead of the needs of her children? No effing way. It means that I deserve to take some time for myself. To do the things that I enjoy and that make me a better mother. It means that I have things that I like to make time for besides wiping butts and playing Chutes and Ladders for the five millionth time. It means that in order for me to be the parent that I need to be I have to take the time to tend to myself, even if that means locking the door just so I can poop in peace.
If you can honestly look in the mirror and say to yourself that you don’t have needs. That you are the ideal parent. That your sole purpose in life is to be the beck and call girl for your kids. That you don’t ever make mistakes and suffer from mom guilt. You are full of shit. I mean, you have it oozing out of every orifice. Instead of filling yourself with these unrealistic expectations, why not tell yourself that it is OK that you forgot to make that phone call. That you aren’t ruining your kids if you let them have pop for lunch. That it is OK that you forgot to do something. That they won’t be traumatized for life if they have to go out into the backyard and play by themselves for fifteen minutes while you switch the laundry or eat that bag of M & M’s that you’ve been hiding in the cabinet.
We all make mistakes. We all have the guilt. We all have those days where we want to pack our bags and run away to the Bahamas with Johnny Depp. Well, I do at least. We can’t sit around criticizing each other and ourselves for the choices that we make for our own children. We can’t constantly attack each other because we do things differently. We can’t look in that proverbial mirror and beat ourselves up because we have those moments of doubt. Because we forgot something. Because we made a mistake. Because we just wanted to take a few minutes for ourselves. Guilt will eat you alive if you let it. We need to support each other despite our differences. We must have the belief in ourselves that we are doing something right. That we have one, or two, or five little people who think we are better than sliced bread. That these kids will turn out just fine. Have faith in YOURSELF. You’ve got this. WE’ve got this.
Have you bought the book yet? NO?? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???? Talk about a good way to remind yourself that we aren’t perfect. Go ahead and get a copy for yourself and feel free to get a copy for all of your mom friends too. You will laugh, you may cry from laughter, you will definitely no longer feel alone. All positive reviews will be sprinkled with glitter in celebration. Get all the details right HERE.