Good Mom, Bad Mom – How about am I a NORMAL mom?

Written by Lee

I don’t need to call myself a good mom or label myself with a group of moms who want to identify themselves as “bad” moms, I just want to feel like a normal mom. And by normal I mean, you know, feeling like what I go through as a mom is a part of the universal mommying experience and that I’m not some alien creature floating around in my singular wacked out solar system.

Isn’t that a reasonable thing to want?

Feeling rather abnormal started from the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first kid. Contrary to most of the women around me who were thrilled and overcome with life joy at the prospect of becoming a mom, I was scared to the core of my soul. To be brutally honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a mom even as that tiny life had already started to grow within my belly. Thank God for faith and a soulmate of a husband is all I have to say.

The strange feeling continued throughout my pregnancy as no pregnant woman I encountered seemed to feel the way I did – ambivalent, confused, frightened, detached. And looking for maternity clothes as I busted out only amplified how out-of-sorts I felt.

The day I brought my firstborn home, I had a practical nervous breakdown as we walked through our front door and I saw all of the familiar comforts of home around me. I sobbed and sobbed with the realization that nothing was the same anymore. Our comfy couch, our loyal dogs, our escape of a bed, our walls scattered with art from our travels – nothing looked the same. It all looked and felt different. This baby was here to stay and would change everything around me and I crumbled under the realization that there was no turning back now.

And so begun the journey of my motherhood.

Almost seven years and three kids later, there are countless examples of how I have felt and continue to feel well, atypical. But the part of my mama experience that makes feeling atypical the hardest to deal with is that it seemed to me that no one was talking about the way I was feeling.

In most of the places I encountered moms, the conversation was not the one I wanted to be having. It’s not that other moms wouldn’t admit that being a mom was hard or that they yelled from time to time, it’s just that most moms didn’t care dig in to the real stuff like I did.

I needed to hear that I was not an alien because I didn’t really want to cook for my kids too much of the time. Or that it’s okay to feel that their screaming and running through the house is like an assault on my person. Or that turning into a Nazi dictator at bedtime barking orders is totally normal. Or that muttering and cursing under my breath how much I hate doing this mom thing while washing the dishes and listening to the fighting is what ALL moms do.

I need and want to talk about how I’m not good in the kitchen, how I don’t care if my kids eat sugar maybe too often, how getting good grades and sending them to a “good” school is not at the top of my priority list, how I don’t plan on saving to pay for their college, how it doesn’t matter to me that they’re not enrolled in every class under the sun, how playing naked in the backyard is more important to me, how my house lives in a constant state of toys and clutter, how my mind often wanders to exploring exotic places, and most of all, how I have to dig deep most each and every day to recommit myself over and over to my choice in becoming a mother.

Does any of this make me good or bad? I really don’t care. I just want to know I’m not alone.

There have been plenty of posts about whether or not the current media trend of being a “bad” mother is a good or bad thing. Now the media trendsetters may have gotten the label wrong because really the “bad” everyone is talking about is not “bad” at all. It’s normal. And what mom in her right mind wants to slap a BAD label on herself and wear it proudly. (And yes, I do know about her and although I don’t know her, she’s most likely in her right mind and she just seems like she was ahead of the curve with the label of “bad.”)

But really the “bad” that everyone is talking about is really a good thing because it opens up the conversation. It exposes the feelings that I’ve had from the moment of seeing that line on that pee stick up unto today. It helps all of the moms who are afraid to admit their many many weaknesses in the middle of a playgroup to be able to stand up for a moment and verbalize that yes, maybe they do some of that “bad” stuff too.

It would be really wonderful to think that we as “bad” or normal moms are not being judged. But I know firsthand that there are plenty of supermoms out there who feel quite comfortable in the judging role. Who look with question and doubt on some of the choices that us “bad” moms make. Who feel that there really is a “right” or better way to be doing this mothering thing.

And you know what? I’m guilty of it too. I look at some of the supermoms in my world who home school and bake organic bread and organize educational field trips and put their kids to bed at 6:30 PM each and every night with disdain from time to time. Like their way of mothering somehow threatens my way of doing things. And this conversation that is now developing in the mamasphere is making me rethink my position. And that is a good thing.

So if the “bad” mother trend does anything for the state of the modern-day mom, I hope it brings to our consciousness an understanding of the other side. That it inspires and sustains a conversation that can help us look one another in the eye and nod in understanding that this is one tough job and that we all seek to do it a million different ways.

And whether we struggle or excel at cooking, cleaning, teaching, painting, breastfeeding, sleep-training, girl scout leading, sports coaching, PTA attending, homework helping, it doesn’t really matter. No matter how we do it, it’s not good or bad…..it’s simply normal.

And…we are not alone.

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11 Responses to “Good Mom, Bad Mom – How about am I a NORMAL mom?”

  1. Amber says:

    This memoir was such a breath of fresh air for me. I am a first-time mom and I’ve been so ashamed of some of the feelings I’ve had and have, because it seems I am the only one who feels them. Thank you for reminding me that I am normal, and not a terrible person.

    • Lee says:

      Amber – sorry for being so late to reply to you but wow – thanks for reading this post I wrote a while back and yes, you are NOT alone. And you are NOT a terrible person. This mother gig digs deep for some women and for me it has always been a rough road. One that I do not regret and one that I would never ever change but wow it has tested me like nothing before. Hang in there and remember – you are normal. 🙂

      Lee

  2. lisa says:

    I love you! this is exactly what i needed to read and I feel like this everyday and she’s only a year old lol. thank you…

    • Lee says:

      You are so welcome. If I’ve learned one valuable thing about the mommy blogosphere it’s that sometimes you read just what you need to and that’s awesome. Hang in there on the rough days and revel in the good days. It’s a roller coaster ride for sure but it’s a damn fun ride overall….. 🙂

      Lee

  3. Janette says:

    i like the and… we are not alone. i am a single mom with full-custody and the dad is an every other weekend “fun” dad who spoils our son. my son is such a good kid, but the stress of paying for school, doctors and extracuricular acitivities brings a lot of stress after working full-time and taking care of our home… i find myself taking the stress out on my son (maybe 2 times in the last year), by yelling when he speaks sooo highly of his dad. i know this is wrong. my son has made my life much richer, but sooo much harder. i don’t want to take this stress out on him. it happened last night and i am feeling sooo bad. i’m not going to rationalize. i was in the wrong. but i’m glad to know that my being overwhelmed doesn’t make me a bad Mom. i know the great moms you speak of, and i admire them. even more, i admire that they have a marriage and sometimes the choice to stay home. however, mothering is hard no matte the circumstances. i just sometimes think i could and would be less stressed if i had my son within a healthy relationship… anyway thanks for this- it made me not be too hard on myself.

    • Lee says:

      So glad you stopped by and read this. We are all too hard on ourselves I think. And way too much focus on being good or bad. We ALL have our moments and I think we should keep talking about the good AND the bad which makes us NORMAL. Bottom line. Mothering IS the hardest thing ever in my opinion. The highest highs and the lowest lows. Crazy-making. 🙂 Thanks for reading….
      Lee

  4. Karajeanne says:

    Amen Sistah, Amen! Just what I needed to read…I sent my daughter to bed with no kisses no hugs just anger…she told me what a bad mother I was, when I told her how much that hurts my feelings she rolled her eyes and said “oh here we go”…sounds pretty normal…except that she’s four…not fourteen…

  5. Kirsten says:

    Lee,
    How you have made me smile and cry at once! I have 3 children and for 10 years now I have stuggled with feeling that I was the “bad” mom and no other mom could possibly be doing it as bad as I am. You have nailed it on the head and I’m so relieved to know that I am NOT alone afterall!
    Thank you so much!
    K.

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this. I am a first time mom of a 9 month old and I just related SO SO much to everything you wrote. Especially this: “how my mind often wanders to exploring exotic places, and most of all, how I have to dig deep most each and every day to recommit myself over and over to my choice in becoming a mother.” That is me exactly. The funny thing is I wanted to be a mom and was ecstatic to get pregnant but had NO clue what I was getting myself into and have been so overwhelmed. More often than not I beat myself up everyday and feel constant guilt trips and question everything I do and feel like a failure too often. It’s great to know that I’m not a “bad” mom but just being a normal mom and I’m not alone. Thanks so much for being so honest, I’m sure you’re a great mom and a warrior of a woman!

  7. amanda says:

    Thank you. I am a mom of three beautiful sons. My world my hope my dreams…. That’s what they are but I yell alot and get overwelmed alot. There are days I feel like my head is spinning in circles and I just can’t keep up. Am I making and doing the right things. Its a question I ponder everday. Recomitting. Recognizing why I chose this title for myself. MOM… I would never walk away from this role I’ve been given but its great to know that I am NORMAL.

  8. Doreen says:

    Just came upon this as I Googled…I don’t like to cook…Am I a bad mom? I am divorced, and I don’t have little ones anymore. My daughter is an 18 year old college student. After my divorce 4 years ago and the loss of my 22 year old son, I’ve lost the energy and desire to make family meals. I’m stressed about life now and work keeps me busy. I feel inadequate when I hear her say how much she loves when her dad cooks for her…a few times a month! Oh well, just feeling a little bad.

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