Posted by: angelnorman | February 18, 2010

i’m okay with being a “bad parent”.

 

I was talking today with one of my mom-friends about the amount of television our children watch on a daily basis. While we were discussing this, she admitted to me that sometimes she feels guilty for not doing more with her son and for sticking him in front of the tv for most of the day while she takes care of her smaller child. I knew exactly what she meant, that feeling that I might not be giving my all to my kids and thus setting him up for attention-span issues at the very least later on down the road. Often times Nick is in front of the tv while I’m just sitting on my butt in the other room blogging, checking emails, surfing the web, etc. And sometimes I feel guilty about that too, you know, because I don’t do anything else with him.

However, I don’t know if it’s real guilt or if I feel guilty because I think I should feel guilty. Yeah.

I am increasingly bothered on a daily basis that we live in a society where anyone feels they have the right to judge a mother on how engaged she is or isn’t with her children. I read things all the time that make me say, “Oh wow… Who are YOU to talk about someone else’s parenting?” Like being a mother isn’t hard enough without having people who think they can do it better than you make you feel badly for the way you run your household. I thought that in the last century, we as women have earned the privilege of being able to decide for ourselves how to live our lives as opposed to being told by MEN how to dress, think, behave, and what to do all day… but apparently some of our society feels differently about that because there they are, those self-righteous people, standing in the shadows and judging every one of us moms for what we do and do not do. Only this time it’s not MEN but other women who are passing those judgments on one another. It frustrates me to no end.

From some angles, I’m a bad mom because I stay at home and don’t work to make sure we have stable family finances. Or because I send Nick to school instead of homeschooling him. From some angles, I’m a bad mom because my kid eats fast food more than once a week. Or I give my kid sugar and, sometimes, caffeinated beverages. And some people think I’m a bad mom because I don’t play with my kid all day long every day. Or that I feel like I need a break from him… a lot. Or that I blog about how he gets on my nerves or I complain about him and his semi-regular bad ‘tudes on facebook.

But you know, I think I’m a great mom. I do. And maybe you disagree, but what do you know anyway?

I am good at lots of things. I’m patient. I’m gentle. I’m nurturing. When you have boo-boos, I’ll do my best to kiss them, both literal and figurative boo-boos. I’m dependable and trustworthy, and I would like to think I’m pretty dang compassionate. I’m good with words (sometimes) and I’m good at providing my child with a channel of communication. He can tell me ANYTHING and know I will never, ever think less of him for it. Also, I encourage learning and imagination and independence. I don’t hover over my child… like right now for instance. Right now he is outside playing with the neighborhood kids in someone else’s yard and while I have the window open and watching him, I am maintaining my distance. On purpose.

I give my kid every opportunity for a normal childhood. We go to the zoo, to museums, to parks, and to the circus. We go on roadtrips and vacations when we can afford to do so. I document everything. I take pictures and I blog and journal just for Nick sometimes. I do read to him, just not everynight. I play with play-doh and take him outside and I talk about nature and the earth and God and people with him.

Those are the things I’m good at.

Things I’m not good at:
Structure (I love to have a plan, but more often than not, I just wing it.)
Playing with action figures for hours at a time.
Reading books before bedtime on a routine basis.
Giving my child a bath every single night.
Making sure he eats enough veggies. Sometimes it totally slips my mind because I’m just happy he’s eating anything.
Being surrounded by my kid and his toys for more than 30 minutes. I need personal space.
Limiting his time in front of the tv, with or without videogames.

I know what I can and cannot do as a mom, well… what I do and do not want to do is more like it. I am not ashamed to admit that I’m who I am. I’m just being honest (which is exactly what I teach Nick to be, just so you know.)

And here’s what I think: if you’re being made to feel guilty because you make Kraft mac n’ cheese everynight or if you don’t go to church every Sunday or haven’t given up the pacifier yet or whatever the case may be… don’t fret. You’re not alone. There’s plenty of moms out there like you. And no one is as perfect as they seem to be. Even those moms who think they have everything figured out struggle on a daily basis. Even the moms who pass judgement on other moms are incredibly imperfect. You know what they say about glass houses and throwing stones.

All we as moms can do is try our best and know our limits. If your limits are way different than mine and you can be with your kids 24/7 without wanting to scream, good for you. I can’t always say the same is true for me. That doesn’t make me less of a mom. It doesn’t mean I love my child less or that he is less happy and healthy than any other child. As long as my kid is thriving, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business how much tv he watches or sugar he eats or fattening foods he consumes or how much of his alphabet he knows.

My advice to anyone who has a problem with the way I parent is “Shutup and mind your own.” And I don’t feel guilty for that one bit.

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