Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Her Bad Mother, My Bad Guilt

Blogger Her Bad Mother recently wrote a terrific bad mother manifesto of sorts. How we are all collectively caught up in trying to live up to the ideal of the perfect mother. The "Good Mother." Excellent. I encourage you to check it out.

This post really resonates with me. There are so many mothering things I feel I should be doing, so many ways I don't live up to my ideals.

I loved this post in particular because it hits at the mothering side of perfectionism. I have made great strides in rejecting the perfectionism I learned from my parents, but as a relatively new mother, I'm wading through the weeds yet again, longing for a happier, shinier shore. ha! There is no such perfect shore. I know that.

I have yet to use cloth diapers as I had hoped. Yes, I'm a wimp.
I hardly ever give her a full bath. I wipe her down every day.
Sometimes I get so frustrated, I yell. OMG, I'm scarring her for life. Ack!!!!
Sometimes I ignore the fussing and crying and go pee or eat some lunch. Before I fall over.

It hurts my heart to be less than the Good Mother. But really I'm just an ordinary mother.

Or the short version, from my comment there:
I'm an ordinary mom too. When things get rough, I keep repeating to myself: I'm doing the best I can. Which over all is pretty good, it's just swaddled in the guilt of not living up to the Good Mom ideal or my better self. It's a particularly sharp stick with which to whack myself with when things are going badly. My DH, though, tells me I'm a fantastic parent, and that thank god we have each other to hand her back and forth in the middle of those late-night screaming fests.

This post also reminds me that noone is served by my guilt about what I haven't done or managed to accomplish. I always want to do better by my daughter. I don't think that will change. What I want is to stop beating myself up with guilt and allow myself more compassion for myself, doing a reasonably good job (most of the time) in difficult circumstances of raising a young child.

When is this ever easy? Never.

Some days I hold my shit together, not always happily, not always well, but I make it work. Some days I don't have enough reserves and I just lose it and have to regroup. Some days I'm so good, I'm freakin Mary P0ppins over here.

This parenting thing is all on-the-job training; I learn from my mistakes, and I try to not beat myself up about it. And that seems to be the key. Why hit each other with that Good Mother guilt? Why hit ourselves? Enough of that, I say.

I saw some of my husband's colleagues recently, briefly. One woman rhapsodized over the baby, how beautiful and wonderful she was, all the amazing things you get to experience as a mother, a parent. Then her voice dropped a little and she asked how I was doing at home. I said I was doing okay. Oh, I cried every day... she said. I could have hugged her. I loved that she acknowledged that this parenting job is as freakin hard as all get out (I'm censoring myself), and even though her kids were teens, she still remembered how hard it was. How hard it can be. And I told her about the first weeks after my husband went back to work that I cried every day too.

I'm doing fine, really I am. I love being a mother. I'm just trying hard to not whack myself with that Good Mother stick on those days that I don't. Blessings to all mothers!


Flying Saucer Jones said...

I suggest you throw away the "good mother" stick. Either that or beat someone else with it.

Tracy said...

this is wonderful ,and so true, I was an ordinary mom too.and i have a cool 20 year old man to show for it!
your post always give me food for thought.