“I feel like a bad mom.” This sentence was said to me three times in the last two weeks by three entirely different friends. Well, let’s be honest and say four times by four people because I feel like a tiny voice in my head says that to me on a loop these days. Regardless, if you are a mom to another human being you have felt that way/are currently feeling that way on the regular.
In honor of Mother’s Day, allow me to spend some time shouting down that demon in your head. (Caveat: I’m not about to say anything new. In fact, I don’t know if you have noticed but I haven’t written much lately. And it’s partly because I realized I have nothing new to add to the conversation of bloggers, writers and creatives that are already out there doing their thing. But maybe what I do bring to the table is an extra voice thrown in to the mix. And maybe that has some value every once in a while. So don’t brace yourself for any paradigm shifts here but here’s what I think about the #momfail rampage.)
It’s a lie. It just is. The whole #momfail phenomenon is a humorous lie. Maybe not always so humorous because secretly so many of us who use it are actually wanting to scream to the masses, “Tell me I’m a good mom! Help me!” #momfail is a lie because the “failing” you are doing while being a mother is not actually failure. Trust me, as someone who has done quite a bit of thinking/obsessing/sobbing over failures these days, I can tell you, without even really knowing that much about you, you are not failing as a mom. Here’s a really great test to determine your failure level:
- Did you feed your kids today? Even if it was hotdogs (and not the organic kind), potato chips (not homemade) and Sprite (not LaCroix)? Did your kids receive sustenance today?
- Were they somewhat clothed? Maybe they stayed in their pjs all day. Maybe they had on 5 different socks. Maybe they insisted on wearing their Halloween costume from 3 years ago. Whatever. Were they not naked for at least some of the day?
- If you have little ones, did you change their diaper at least once? Maybe it was on the floor of a Target bathroom, but did you eventually make sure their bum got a new diaper to immediately soil?
- Has your child had a bath in the last 7-10 days? And yes, swimming does count! Extra points if their hair was also washed but not at all necessary.
- Did your kids say they loved you today? Maybe with words. Maybe with that special smile that all kids have just for their moms. Maybe while writing it in sharpie on your wall. Maybe they wrote you a story yesterday about your birthday and maybe the last sentence said, “Today my mom is 35. Wow! That is old!” (Um…That happened to a friend, not me.)
- When they expressed their love for you, did your heart soften just a smidge? Beneath the repressed rage of having to clean up yet another mess, change yet another diaper, referee yet another argument, when your kid gave you that special smile, said those words, presented you with their art, did you feel your heart grow just a bit. Maybe only a grinch-like bit depending on how much “art” ended up not on the paper, but did it grow even a little?
If you answered “yes” to even just one of those questions, you are not failing as a mom. You just aren’t. You might be tired. You might be sad. You might feel defeated. You probably definitely absolutely need a break that you probably definitely absolutely won’t get for a while. But you are not a bad mom.
Here’s what bad moms do: They don’t confess. They hide behind a hashtag and never let anyone else into the demons in their heads beyond that. You are going to have bad days. They will sometimes feel like bad weeks. Your kids will somehow survive on Rice Krispies (not the organic kind). Your house will always be one eternal pile of laundry that you can’t remember to be dirty or clean. And your car will always look like a Cheez-its box exploded in it. And if you simmer in that, if you hide behind it, if you put lipstick on that pig, your heart will implode faster than that Cheez-its box.
When you feel that pressure to hide behind that failure, when you find yourself fighting tears back more often than you think possible, talk to someone. Anyone. Maybe not your 5 year old because his ability to understand complex emotion stops beyond “hunger”, but find someone who loves you and word vomit on them. Be it your spouse or your best friend or a spiritual leader or a counselor, find someone and say “I feel like a bad mom because….” And let it all roll out. I can almost guarantee you that simply saying it, simply hearing it all out loud will show you just how big of a lie it really is. And if it doesn’t, I am absolutely positive that person sitting across from you will see it for what it is immediately and help you see where the truth really lies.
We are good moms. Our kids are happy….most of the time. More importantly they are safe, they are as healthy as possible, and they are loved. And those three things (mostly the love) is what makes us the best moms our kids could have.
Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow moms, those both in the trenches and those cheering from the sidelines. #bestmomever
Also, drink wine. I know all the good, cheap brands. Text me.