For the majority of my adolescent, young adult and adult life, I never wanted to be a mother. I was so very afraid of motherhood in general, and terrified that I would fail any potential children I may or may not have. Then, life happened and I met my partner and I changed my mind and I had a baby. That fear, however, has remained and I constantly work to combat that fear by being the best mother I can possibly be. Sadly, I wasn't my best today. The ways I wasn't the perfect mom today are seemingly endless and, in this exact moment, relentlessly overwhelming. Now that the day is over and I'm forced to examine the last 14 hours, I have to admit that I have failed more than I have succeeded.
I'm notoriously hard on myself, and I know I'm not alone in that department. Mothers are their worst critics, which is saying a lot since judging mothers for their choices, their "failures," even their successes and everything in between seems to be one of our culture's favorite pastimes. Still, for as hard as others can be on us, they have nothing on how hard we can be on ourselves. I am constantly filled with self-doubt; wondering if I am being the mom my son deserves. I am constantly re-examining my choices; making sure that my decisions are affecting my son positively, not negatively. I'm constantly afraid of failure; petrified by the notion that my son will grow up resenting me and the way I parented him.
In the end, I am holding myself up to an unrealistic standard that most mothers feel they should be upholding on a daily basis. I'm not being fair to myself because, well, I would never tell another mother that she has to be perfect day in and day out, forever and always. Why is it that I am kind to the mothers around me, but not myself? Why do I sit in self-loathing when I have days like today? Days that are just damn difficult? Days where I didn't mess up too horribly, but I wasn't "perfect" either? I'm sure the way society talks about and treats mothers is one reason. I'm sure the unrealistic standards my toxic parent held me to is another. However, I do know that one undeniable reason is, well, love. I love my son so much that I want to be that "perfect" person for him, even when I know it's impossible. Thankfully, I know my son loves me anyway. He loves me when I make mistakes and he loves me when I'm not at my best and, well, he loved me through the 29 mistakes I made today:
I Made My Son The Same Breakfast For The Last Seven Days In A Row
In the morning when I'm hurrying to get to work while simultaneously attempting to get my son ready for the day, I go for convenient instead of completely "organic." It's so much easier to quickly make him the same thing over and over again because I know how long it takes to make and that he'll eat it.
My Son's Breakfast Came In A Box. Frozen.
I Forgot To Change Him The Moment I Woke Up And He Peed Through His Pajamas
In the hustle and bustle of the morning — me running to the bathroom while checking my work email and starting my shower so the water can warm up before I jump in — I forgot to change my son's diaper. I think I heard him say, "Mom, new diaper," while I was racing past him, but I don't remember. Then, of course, he peed through his diaper and soaked his pajama pants and I had to clean it up. It wasn't his fault, it was mine.
I Yelled At My Son When He Threw A Toy At The Cat
I try so hard not to yell at my son. I know yelling doesn't help him and that he's learning and that I need to be the adult. Still, it's hard for me to watch him throw something at our cat, who is simply trying to mind her own business. While I'm rushing around to get ready for work and prepare his breakfast, I simply don't have the time to get down to his level and press "pause" on the morning and calmly explain why throwing anything is bad, especially at someone or something else. So, I yelled. I yelled and I shouldn't have and I knew it the moment those harsh words came out of my mouth.
I Said "Sh*t," So My Son Said "Sh*t"
He's repeating everything and I know better. Still, I stubbed my toe and let out a "sh*t" and now he's running around saying "sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t " over and over again.
I Was Running Late For Work So I Forgot To Kiss My Son Goodbye
Usually, we always hug and kiss and wave goodbye to one another before I run out the door and head to work. Today, though, I was running late so I just left. I left without saying goodbye, and the rest of the day (I was told) my son kept saying, "Mama come home."
I Forgot To Make My Son His Lunch Before I Left For Work
I usually try to at least prepare my son's lunch before I leave for work, usually to help my co-parent so he can get through the day of taking care of our son while I'm at work, without completely losing my mind.
I didn't do that, today. Not only did I leave my son without a goodbye kiss, I left without preparing him properly for the majority of his day.
I Didn't Take My Son To The Park
I make it a point to give my son the opportunity to be active, especially outside. I was just so exhausted — with work and the late, insane morning — that when I came home I didn't take him to the park. instead, I put on a movie so that he would be preoccupied and so I could find a few minutes to catch my breath.
He deserves to go outside and play with the neighborhood kids he's continuing to meet and befriend, and I failed him. I failed him because I was just too tired, and right now that doesn't seem like the best excuse.
My Son Watched Too Much Television Because I Just Wanted "A Break"
It's lazy, but I just turned on the television and popped in Toy Story 3 and let my son sit in front of the television for, arguably, far too long.
I Gave Him A Bottle Instead Of A More Complete Meal
My son has been going through somewhat of a regression in the "food" department. Instead of wanting to eat actual food, he just wants milk again. I know that if I put in more effort to make him diverse meals, he'll start eating again and eating regularly.
However, today, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I caved. I gave him exactly what he wanted, even though I know it would have been better for him if he had some vegetables and fruit and a protein. I took the "easy" way out.
I Didn't Pack An Extra Pair Of Clothes When We Went To The Grocery Store
So, we ran out of milk and I had to go to the grocery store. I know better than to leave the apartment — ever — without an extra change of clothes. I know that if I leave without an extra set, something will happen and I'll be sh*t out of luck.
Of course, my son fell and it had been raining and he was soaked, head-to-toe. I had to turn around, carrying my cold and crying son, and get him changed at home because I didn't pack accordingly.
I Didn't Make Him An Organic Meal
Before I had my son, I swore I would make organic meals and organic meals only. I told myself that I would put in the extra effort because my son was worth it and he deserved it.
Now, that hardly ever happens. Organic ingredients are so expensive and we don't have the room for a garden of our own and making meals "from scratch" takes so much time and effort. I've caved, even though I know I shouldn't.
I Only Read My Son One Book (And It Was A Short One)
My son loves to read and he will bring out book after book after book and say, "Mom read book," and sit next to me and demand that I continue to read every book he owns, multiple times. Usually, I love it.
However, I had more work to do when I got home and I just didn't think I had the time to read 20 books in one sitting. So I told my son we could only read one book, and stomached the look he gave me as result of said restriction. I only read to him once and the book was short and sweet and then I told him to go play. Ugh.
I Said "Damn," So My Son Said "Damn"
I know I need to watch my mouth because my son is repeating everything I say, but I keep forgetting or I keep getting frustrated and now my son is saying words he really shouldn't be saying.
I Ordered Takeout For Dinner
Again. I ordered takeout, again. The family who owns the Chinese restaurant a block away know us by name, know our order and even know to give us extra fortune cookies for our son. That's how often I am ordering out because work is crazy and I'm always exhausted.
My son deserves better. I know he does. I should be making him healthy meals that show him how much I love him and how much I want to provide for him. But by the end of the day (especially towards the end of the week) I am so tired I just want something quick and easy that I know he will eat.
I Let My Kid Make A Mess So I Wouldn't Have To Deal
I know that I'm not doing him any favors when I let him draw on our coffee table with chalk or play with my makeup or take out all of the tupperware underneath our sink, but sometimes it's easier for him to just makes a mess and be happy than for me to continually tell him it's not OK. I don't want to hear him whine or him cry, so if that makes him happy, well. So be it.
I Snapped At My Son When He Spilled His Water
Kids spill things and I know that. I'm actually super happy that my son is drinking water, so I don't know why I snapped when he spilled a little bit on the floor and the coffee table. I mean, it happens.
I Snapped At My Son When He Threw A Toy At My Computer While I Was Working
It's so hard to work when my son is running around the apartment throwing things and being a normal toddler. I know I should just stop and pause work and play with him and help him channel his energy in a more productive way, but I'm on a deadline and I need to get my work done otherwise I'll be up all hours of the night.
So, I snapped. I yelled at him and told him to stop instead of taking my time to just explain to him that throwing isn't OK, or just playing with him in his room with the rest of his toys.
I Snapped At My Son, Period
I know better. Yelling at my son doesn't help. Snapping at him when I'm frustrated doesn't solve anything. I don't teach him right from wrong, I teach him that "mom is mad," and that is not helpful.
I Judged Another Mom
I've been judged my mothers countless times, so I know how it feels and how hurtful and demeaning and isolating it can be. So why, why do I do it, too? I have no idea what that mother is going through, what her unique situations are or even how her children are behind closed doors. And, still. Still. I let myself judge her and make assumptions that have no business being made.
It's so shameful, but I do it and, in the end, I know I do it because I'm feeling insecure in my own parenting choices.
I Didn't Spend Enough One-On-One Time With My Son
I worked too much. I did. I worked the moment I woke up in the morning and I worked when I got home and I even worked after my son fell asleep. I didn't spend enough time with him and that's why he was vying for my attention the moment I got home. I need to do better.
I Didn't Appreciate Every Single Moment
Not every single moment is easy to appreciate, but I know my son will never be a toddler again. I know that these moments, even the frustrating ones, are important for me to cherish and be present for and wholeheartedly experience. I don't think I need to love all of those moments, but I really do need to be more appreciative of the family that I have and the son I am so lucky to be able to raise.
I Made My Son Cry When I Told Him "No"
Sometimes, my son needs to hear "no." So, sometimes, I don't feel bad saying "no" to my son. At all.
However, it's hard to feel like I'm a "good mom" when my son is crying because of something I did. It's hard to feel like I'm being a "good mom" when I'm a source of his distress, even when I know it's fleeting and necessary.
I Argued With My Son's Father In Front Of Him
I grew up in an abusive household, so not arguing or even disagreeing with my partner in front of my son is very, very important to me.
Today, though, I failed.
I was so frustrated and so tired that when my partner disagreed with me, I lashed out at him just like I lashed out at my son. I allowed my son to see us on separate pages and while I know that we're not always going to agree, I didn't disagree with him the way I would want my son to eventually disagree with someone, either. I need to do better.
My Son Hurt Himself When I Wasn't Paying Attention
I was so wrapped up in my work and staring at my computer and writing that I didn't notice my son jumping on our bed. If I had noticed him jumping I would have put a stop to it, but I didn't and he fell off the bed and hurt himself. Not seriously, but enough to make him cry and I knew that I didn't do my job. I'm suppose to keep him safe but when I'm too distracted or trying to do too many things at once, I mess up and it ends with him crying and running to mom to make him feel better.
I Put My Kid To Bed Early, So I Could Relax
I know I could have spent more time with my son but I just needed a break. I needed to sit on the couch and either continue working or just shut my brain off entirely. So, I put him to bed early. I didn't have to, but I chose to, and I essentially chose time alone over time with my son.
I Didn't Do The Laundry
There wasn't time and even if there was, there's no way I was going to spend that time folding clothes. I guess my son can wear the same thing he wrote today, yesterday. It wasn't that dirty.
I Left The Dirty Dishes In The Sink
They can wait, right?
For A Second, I Wished I Wasn't A Mom
With work and normal household responsibilities and my romantic relationship and my son I, just for a second, wished I wasn't a mom. It all just felt so overwhelming and exhausting and I felt like I was failing at everything. I started to think that it would have been so much easier if my son wasn't around, even though I would never want to live in a world where my son didn't exist.
Which is when I remembered that today was just one of those days. I'm never going to be the "perfect mom." In fact, that mother doesn't exist. I was a flawed human being before I had a baby and I will continue to be a flawed human being long after my baby is grown and an adult himself. I messed up a few times today and I could have been better and done better and acted better but, thankfully, I have tomorrow. Tomorrow I get the chance to be better than I was today. Tomorrow I can say I learned from today, made the necessary adjustments and evolved. Tomorrow I can do all the things I didn't get to to today. Of course, tomorrow I'll probably mess up too, and that's OK. I will never be the perfect mom and, honestly, neither will you. You're not alone.