Worst Mommy EVER!

And if my children resent having been moons rather than the sun? If they berate me for not having loved them enough? If they call me a bad mother? I will tell them that I wish for them a love like I have for their father. I will tell them that they are my children, and they deserve both to love and be loved like that. I will tell them to settle for nothing less than what they saw when they looked at me, looking at him." Ayelet Waldman

Last Friday morning we took Maya to the playground to meet up with her best friend. They played together for over an hour while Matthew and I sat on a bench and discussed the dojo. After a bit, it started to rain so we took Maya to the local indoor playspace, where for $10 she could continue running and climbing and sliding and we could continue sitting on a bench. (Now we were discussing jiu-jitsu. We are very boring.) Soon it was lunchtime. Maya, like me, turns into a bitchy, blubbery mess when she is hungry. Even so, when we told her she had five more minutes to play she did not take it well. It escalated into a full on tantrum, but not the cute screaming fit of a two year old. No, Maya is far too mature for that now. Her blow ups are few and far between nowadays (thank god) but when they do happen they are the life-is-so-unfair-everyone-hates-me explosions of a teenager.

This time I got pushed, stomped at, and told, in a voice only a four year old who believes she has been deeply wronged can muster, "You are the worst mommy EVER and I am never going to listen to you EVER AGAIN!"

Well.
Ok then.

Where in the world do kids come up with these things? If she had said "Jesus Christ!" I could have blamed it on Matthew's road rage. If she had called me a "poopy head" I could have traced it back to her grandpa. But as far as I know no one has ever called her the worst anything EVER. Even in the rare moments when I was thinking it, I have certainly never called her the worst daughter ever. And I know they are just angry words, that she doesn't actually feel that way, but at some point her tiny brain was like, "I want to say mean words to mama. What mean words can I think of. Oh, here are some. I'll try these on for size."

Ouch.

I am not, in fact, the worst mommy ever. I do not beat my child. I do not use her dinner money to buy crack.  I feed her green things often. She does not compete in glitz pageants.

So I do not agree with this assessment of me. I will admit, however, that I am not the at top of the pack either. Here are five examples of why I am also, sadly, not the best mommy EVER:

One, my child is not my life. Don't get me wrong, I love her and I love being a mother. But those parents who live and breathe for their children, for whom there is no greater pleasure than smelling their baby's tiny toes (even when their babies are now seventeen), who put no other pursuits above meeting their child's every need, I am not one of them. I work hard at taking care of Maya, at making sure she is healthy and happy. But being a mommy is only one part of who I am. And I like it that way.

Two, I really really love my husband. I am not saying that I love him more than my child, it is impossible to compare the two, just that my relationship with him is of equal importance to me. Having a kid did not suddenly put him second in my eyes. Why would it? Matthew has always been my best friend, a source of joy, strength and comfort for me, not to mention my favorite person to be around. Now he is all those things plus the father of my child. Why would I be unable to change Maya's diapers, kiss her boo boos and still adore my husband? There is plenty of love in my heart for everyone.

(In a 2005 essay for the NY TImes, the writer Ayelet Waldman wrote that she, in fact, did love her husband more than her children. She got a lot of flack for this statement, was told over and over than she was a bad mother. This is ridiculous. A bad mother would say "I love my husband but I can't stand my kids." Why does becoming a mom have to be all consuming?)

Three, sometimes I tell the truth. Sure I will play Barbie castle with you. Yes we can do that puzzle again. But I don't really like playing school. And I find Yo Gabba Gabba annoying. And I need you to be quiet for a few minutes because the sound of your voice is like nails on a chalkboard right now. Ok, so I never said that last one. But I do not think it is necessary to constantly fake enthusiasm, nor do I always have to play along. It is fine to say "Mommy is not really in the mood to play princess dress up dance party right now. Why don't you play that by yourself and when you are done we can paint together." Which brings me to....

Four, I sometimes write while Maya is awake. I also clean, cook and do laundry while she is awake. Occasionally I take her to jiu-jitsu with me where she sits on the side and entertains herself while I work on triangle chokes.  I do not think we need to spend every waking moment together. So when mommy is writing, Maya writes too, with her crayons and a giant pile of colored paper. Sometimes she drags her toy computer over to the coffee table, picks up one of the old cellphones that we gave her to play with and says, "Mommy I am working right now so I can't be with you."  She rarely naps anymore, but once a day, Maya still goes into her room, shuts the door and plays whatever she wants for an hour, by herself.  (She is in there right now.) I love this, and not just because it means more time for me. Personal space is important for everyone.

Five, Maya knows she is loved. I mean, she really knows. She knows I think she is wonderful and brilliant and talented. She knows I think she looks cute in a dress and that I like her hair in braids. She knows when I am proud of her. She also knows when she has hurt my feelings (like by calling me the worst mommy EVER) and when I am disappointed in her. She knows that sometimes people who love each other get into fights but that it has nothing to do with how much they love each other, or how much they love her.  I tell her everything I'm feeling, probably far more than she should know. And sometimes I cover her with kisses, over and over, and squeeze her so tight she has to pry me off of her because in spite of everything I absolutely, positively adore her.

So no, I am not perfect. And to be honest, I am not trying to be. I don't need to win mommy of the year. Maya is happy, polite, friendly, athletic and super smart. Her friends love her. Her teachers love her. And despite the occasional meltdown, we love her.

So no, miss sassy pants, I am NOT the worst mommy EVER. And you WILL listen to me again. Why? Because I'm the one who buys the ice cream.

Comments

  1. I love this. It is so true and honestly most moms feel this way only the real best moms can admit it. :)

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