I’m a bad mom.
To say I’m a mom, without the label “bad” in front of it, wouldn’t be fair to moms.
I believe in loving and caring for children at any cost. I believe in self-obliteration and the series of sacrifices that comes with being a mom.
I believe these things, yes, but in my daily life, I fail miserably at upholding those beliefs. I suck at being a mom.
So I call myself a bad mom.
I don’t say this to be stylish or cool.
In my writing, I’m unapologetic about being a bad mom.
But when it comes to my kids, I can’t forgive myself so easily.
I’m full of contradictions.
For example, I think teaching music to children from a young age is paramount and necessary to their creative development.
Yet I fail to offer them suitable music choices.
I blast Tupac gansta rap in the carpool line. Allow me to refresh your memory. It goes a little somethin’ like this….
First off, fuck your bitch in the clique you claim
West side when we ride come equipped with game
You claim to be a player but I fucked your wife
Those lyrics totally beat Beethoven’s Symphony 9. And they kick the Frozen soundtrack’s ass.
An occasional drink doesn’t really define my way of life.
If we’re being honest here, folks, sometimes I down bottles. Occasionally, I slur my way through Goodnight Moon.
I yell. For stupid reasons.
Put your toys away!
Stop hitting your sister!
Go to bed!
Then I yell at my kids for yelling.
I let my kids watch way too much TV. The TV babysits my kids so I can chat with my girlfriend on the phone, so I can cook, so I can shower … so I don’t have to entertain them.
I disappear into the bathroom for 10 minutes at a time to check Facebook, Twitter and email – telling my kids, “Mommy is taking a poop!!”
I want to protect my kids from skin cancer – yet I forget sunscreen. I hate when my kids get sick – and yet, I can’t find the hand sanitizer … again.
My kids eat dessert, sometimes twice a day.
And McDonald’s Happy Meals.
I say “fuck” in front of my kids, without giving any. And, yup, you guessed it – my kids repeat said “fucks,” and I still don’t give any.
I tell my kids, “Five more minutes.”
“Five more minutes and I’ll play Barbies.”
“Five more minutes and I’ll watch your magic show.”
Five more minutes turns into an hour or two. Or none.
I’m a mom, and I had an abortion.
As a young woman I was fed an image of motherhood that made it look impossible for me.
Having it all, as our fore-feminists suggested, wasn’t gonna happen for all. And it certainly wasn’t going to happen for me.
My first time being pregnant I knew too well that the chances of me making a decent paycheck and supporting my family were slim to none. I knew too well that single motherhood and teen motherhood would enslave me and most likely trap me into an income bracket that I did not want to belong to. I knew my dreams would be put on hold, if not squashed altogether. I knew the sacrifice being a mom would require. To me, it was momentous and completely undesirable.
A few years later, as a newly wedded wife, I got pregnant. At the sight of two lines, I hysterically cried. I felt as scared then as I did as a pregnant teen.
I never wanted children. In my mind, becoming a mother would shatter everything I believed I could have for myself. It would ruin my career. Limit me geographically. Stifle me financially. Disfigure my body. Burden me emotionally.
You see, I was broken.
Becoming a mother broke me.
My babies were bombs that came back-to-back (16 months apart). When they were born, I exploded.
Except I didn’t die. Instead, I was dismembered from the inside out.
I was undone, the parts of my old self splayed all over the sidewalk.
Early motherhood jilted me. I spent most of my days feeling trapped, and in tears.
I couldn’t bond with my babies. I would sit at night, feeding my babies, filled with emptiness. I ached to love them flawlessly and romantically, but I could only love them instinctively. Fundamentally. It was obligatory and completely devoid of deep passion.
I could hear my soul screaming. My core was crying.
What is a mother?
Why can’t I want to be a mother?
Why can’t I fucking want this?
I compared my mothering to my mother’s mothering. And to her mother’s mothering. And the mothering of mothers at library story time. Or at Mommy and Me classes.
The guilt of not measuring up to other moms was gripping.
I didn’t realize that I could be the best mom by being a “bad” mom. A mom with flaws. A mom who doesn’t do it right. A mom who doesn’t want to try to do it right every time. A mom who doesn’t look like the rest or feel like the rest.
Slowly, I wrote myself back together again. The words came together and comforted me. And when I put myself and my feelings of being a bad mom out into the world, I found other bad moms. Moms who, like me, sucked.
I started to celebrate sucking at motherhood.
I no longer felt dysfunctional and disconnected.
I am a mom.
I’m a mom because I care for my kids.
I’m a mom because I give hugs and kisses.
And read bedtime stores.
And wipe asses.
I’m a mom because I force fruits and vegetables down my kids’ throats.
I’m a mom because I teach body acceptance.
I sign them up for activities and sports.
But not too many – because you know that’s bad, right? Right?
I’m a mom because I obsess over their schooling.
I buy my kids cool clothes.
Another stuffed animal?
Really? You have like a thousand.
Aw, hell, put it in the cart.
I support their proclamations and decisions.
I teach them about diversity.
And to love, love all human beings. Except the assholes. Fuck assholes.
I teach them to travel and to celebrate cultures around the world.
I’m a mom because I don’t always hold their hands or catch their falls.
I teach them manners. Politeness. Humility. Respect.
I instruct them to listen and honor their inner voices.
I know some days, I could really try harder. I could work harder. Do this better. I know I should learn from my mommy mishaps and mistakes.
So I am a bad mom.
But I’d rather be a bad mom than no mom at all.