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.