Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bad Mom

I'm not the best mom (or the best blogger, clearly, but that's another post). I yell sometimes. I don't always serve vegetables. I avoid combing Lady's hair because I'm tired of the screaming. On the good days, I shake my head and tell myself that I'll do better, and on the bad days, I dissolve into a puddle of self-loathing who has to convince herself that she's still worth something.

I'll be the first to admit that motherhood doesn't come naturally to me. Well, some things come naturally--I dare you to hold a screaming baby that just got pulled out of your stomach and not fall instantly in love--but before I-gots was born, I'd never changed a diaper, fawned over a newborn, or read a book to a toddler. And I'd never wanted to. I babysat as a teenager because that was what teenagers in my neighborhood did, but the one and only time I had to babysit a baby, my mom had to come over and bail me out halfway through.

Now that I have kids of my own, infants don't intimidate me--but I still won't volunteer to hold them. And even though I have kids of my own, I sometimes wonder what I was thinking. Why I prayed so hard for kids I'm so bad at taking care of. Mothers are gentle, patient creatures who always put their children's needs above their own. They're not chemically unbalanced women who occasionally wish that they could trade their children in.

And yet they are because I am.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Every time I turn around, someone's peeing/yelling/fighting. There are no sick days, no vacations. Even if I manage to sneak away for a few days, I spend the whole time worrying that my mom won't know how to wrestle them into the bathtub or make their sandwiches just right. But being a mom is also the most gratifying. There is no amount of money/freedom/peace and quiet that can ever compensate for two sticky hands squeezing your cheeks and a slobbery mouth whispering in your ear, "I love you, Mom."

I've never met a mom who thought she was a good mom, but then, I've never met a kid with a hard-working mom who thought she was a bad one.


michelleimason said...

I am 100 percent with you, Krista! I envy those mothers who want nothing more than to be with their kids all of the time. I'll look at them and think, "Did I miss out on some special mother gene that gives you an extra dose of patience and understanding?" I love my kids, but I need my own time so that I appreciate the time with them even more. And I'm perfectly happy to give those other babies back to their mothers after holding them for a few minutes :). But my kids don't seem to notice the frustration or worry in my mind. They just love me anyway and think I'm the best mom in the world. All we can do is our best, and our kids recognize it.

Kim said...

We mothers do love to beat ourselves up! I love your last line - and the confidence that, in spite of everything, our kids really do notice and appreciate our efforts. Motherhood is nothing if not relentless...

Jessie Oliveros said...

I'm with you. Especially today after dissolving in tears because I felt like such a "bad mom." (Well, okay...some of those tears were pregnancy-induced, I'm sure.) Being a mom is hard! (But oh so rewarding.)

Kristin Smith said...

I so needed to read this today, Krista! I had one of those beat-myself-down-because-I-can't-do-it-all moments yesterday and I cried to my husband about this very thing. I love my kids, but yeah, I'm definitely not perfect, in fact I'd say I'm far from it. Most of the time I hope and pray I'm not messing my kids up! And some days all I want is a BREAK!

But nothing can compare to those wonderful, happy moments when you realize how incomplete your family would be without those precious children. I just wish those moments would come along a little more frequently... :)

Maria said...

Thank you for sharing this! I always assume other mothers are naturals, doing everything so perfectly, only to discover we are all human. Can't count the times I have found myself stepping back and taking a breath so I don't explode again around my boys. They bring me the greatest joy and frustrate me like no one else, probably because they are their own persons who think for themselves. Knowing we are all in the Mommy Trenches together gives me strength to keep going.

As for those breaks, same here. My husband will extend his time away and enjoy it. I end up calling home several times a day and thinking of them the whole time. I have to trust that he knows what he's doing, which he reminds me constantly. In the end, I think we need to give ourselves more grace and let the concept of the perfect mom go. If the children are fed, clean, and mostly happy, I think we should give ourselves huge hugs and celebrate!

Ann Noser said...

Agreed. Being a mom is hard work. Someone's always starving, fighting, getting hurt. It's exhausting work. I wish I had the patience of a saint, but I most certainly don't. Thanks for sharing!

JeffO said...

I love kids in general, and loved holding my own when they were infants, but I've always been funny about holding other people's babies--I'd rather not, thank you very much.

I don't know if anyone ever feels up to this task, which is gargantuan, but unless you ACT on those impulses to trade the kids in, you're doing fine! Hang in there.

Karen lee Hallam said...

Oh, my goodness--right there with you sister. My boys are teens now, but the whole thing nearly destroyed me! (lol) Guess, it made me stronger, maybe? But WOW-- the utter exhaustion on ALL levels: mental, physical, and spiritual, is intense. I've learned small bubbles of patience from them. I think? Also, to never give up on what you love. That they tested me with, uh-huh. :)

Rebecca Gomez said...

To be honest, until my kids became college-bound teenagers, I always thought I was pretty good at this mom thing. Diaper overflows, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights are nothing compared to PMS, adjustment anxiety, broken hearts, and waiting up at night wondering why the heck your child is not home from work yet. As proud as I am of the adults they are becoming, sometimes I miss those times when the biggest problems I had to help them through were scraped knees or tummy bugs.

It wasn't easy then, and it sure isn't easy now! But, by the grace of God, I've got this. And so do you!

Anonymous said...

Well put thou good and faithful......
Doubt not nor ever the viruosity of your capacity nor your efforts. If I never learned but one tice from my GA friends, it is that we all grimace at our incapacity, and stumble through the vicissitudes of life....It Ain't easy.
But those who know you....no qualms.

Regard the paiting by Norman Rockwell; The Girl In the Mirror.

Mr Rockwell noted the girl's belief that she will never measure up. She doubts, sees the supposed graces of others, yet the perspective....
Mr Rockwell wrote me once in repsonse to a query, that the picture was painted from the perspective of her Mom and Dad, peering quietly around the corner of the door, thinking to themselves; "Wow! What a wonderfuel gift we have given to bless the world!". "She is BEAUTIFUL!!!!"

Yup...so true!


Lily Cate said...

I like hanging out with my kid. But there's only one, and he's old enough to go away all day and come back with stories now. Much more fun than the toddler stage, even though he was pretty dang adorable then.
Most of the time I think I've got a handle on this Mom thing. Maybe I'm not an expert, but I keep that train on the dang track.
Then today I got a terse but polite note from the lunchroom monitor - apparently my precious offspring punched a barbeque sauce packet on the lunchroom table and caused a bit of an explosion. Ms. Lunchroom added that he apologized and promptly cleaned up the mess. So what was my reaction? Fits of giggles. Husband's reaction? "Oh, an eleven year old boy did something mildly stupid? I'll write up a press release."
Sometimes you're conducting the train, and sometimes you're just along for the ride.

Leslie S. Rose said...

My kiddos are in their 20's and I'm still trying to get it right. Motherhood - the ultimate WIP.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I'm glad I'm not alone, Michelle. Like you said, I sometimes feel like I missed out on some intrinsic mothering gene, so it's nice to know that other moms feel the same way.

Luckily, Kim, our kids can't shop around, so they probably don't notice all of our, uh, deficiencies:)

Congratulations, Jessie!

So well said, Kristin. *high-fives*

Maria, my kids are definitely the source of some of my highest highs and my lowest lows. I think that's just one of the laws of life:)

You're welcome, Ann! Thanks for commenting.

Jeff, your comment made me laugh out loud. Hopefully, it's not always the thought that counts:)

Thanks for these words of wisdom, Karen. I'm happy to hear there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Rebecca, my mother-in-law said something similar not long ago. The older your kids get, the bigger their problems get (and the more difficult to solve). It must be so hard to feel like there's nothing you can do (and it does put my kids' problems in perspective).

Cairneylad, if you are who I think you are, then thanks for the comment, Dad:)

What a great story, Lily! I hope I'm as understanding of my tweens' boneheaded-ness as you are:)

So true, Leslie. So true.