This video that seems to be headed towards virality really got me thinking this morning. (Quick summary if you haven’t seen it: moms are their own biggest critics. Videographers turn the tables so the moms can see how much their kiddos love them). All I’ve been thinking since watching it is this: Why do all of these moms think they aren’t good moms (or, at the very least, that they are flawed moms?) Why do they doubt their abilities, their strengths, their patience, their commitment? Why are they surprised by the wonderful things their kids say about them? WHY?
I have all number of insecurities as a parent. I chide myself all the time for being too frazzled. For letting the daily ups and downs of parenting get me so stressed. For not living in as many moments as I “should”; for not being all carpe-diemy 24-7. For sweating the small stuff and sobbing over the spilled milk. For needing 8 hours of sleep or a nap or an early bedtime or even vitamins. For wasting time. For pulling out my iphone while my kid goes down the slide. For putting on yet another Curious George video during dinnertime. For needing the help of a nanny and other caregivers. For not having it freaking all.
But even with all of this — and there’s more, much more — I know I am a good mom. My kiddo is the first thing I think about in the morning (I mean he’s yelling, how can I help it) and the last thing I think about at night (sometimes I actually, literally smile, thinking about the cute things he says and does as I’m falling asleep.) I spend countless hours worrying about where he’ll go to school and how to instill kindness in him and whether he has enough pants that accommodate his constantly-expanding waist. I tell him “good job” far far too often, I play Lego Duplos with him, I kiss his toes and I let him push the “buppons” on the microwave. I take him to the playground. I hover over his sleeping form at night and tuck him into his blanket. I watch the baby monitor just because. I discipline him even though it’s hard. I carry on entire conversations with him using only the word “train.”
I also get frustrated and freaked and sad and angry and sometimes even resentful. I find juggling parenthood and personhood pretty damn difficult. I get annoyed when I don’t have enough time to write. I sometimes wish I could be writing when I’m at the playground. I’m not perfect. Not even close to close to being in that neighborhood. But if you had to ask me if I’m a good mom, I’d say yes.
Because here’s the thing: the JOB of parenting is ridiculously fucking hard. The JOB of juggling and sweating and carpools and healthy meals and getting to work on time and tucking your kid in and teaching her right and wrong is really, really difficult. It’s a given that you will feel shitty and worn down and insecure about how to manage it all. But that’s just the skeleton holding up all the real stuff. All the love and huggy stuff. All the great joyous stuff. It’s like the Spanx that are holding everything together and snug and making your pants fit. At the end of a very, very long day, if your kids are happy and healthy and learning and challenged and secure and safe and loving Elmo, you’re a good mom. Period.
So. I thought that video was lovely and heartwarming, yes, but I also wondered why not a single mom walked in and said, “I try my best, and I think that’s pretty good.” (Or was that mom edited out?!) Mom Guilt is so pervasive these days, I kind of felt like this video was preying on us parents (“feel bad about your parenting skilz? Don’t worry. Little Ethan still loves you.”) How many times do we self-depracatingly joke about our #parentingfails or how we’re “bad moms” for letting our kids watch TV or feeding them a hot dog for dinner? How often do we compare ourselves to others and determine that we fall short? I know I do it. And I know my husband doesn’t. So WHAT’S. WITH. THAT? I should stop perpetuating the mom guilt. I should stop saying that shit, even jokingly, about how I could have done better but I was too tired. I should stop comparing. Because at the core, I may doubt my ability to cook a meal for my entire family while writing a novel and teaching my kid not to hit people, but I don’t doubt the big picture. Even when my kid is eating dental floss that I may or may not have let him play with and then felt terribly guilty about later. I am a good mom. And so are you.