I Was a Crappy Mom Today

by Joanna McClanahan
Originally Published: 

I was a crappy mom today. At least it feels like I was.

I was a selfish mom. I drank a cup of coffee before I changed the baby’s diaper.

I was a weak mom. I yelled at our toddler when she wouldn’t eat any of the food I put in front of her.

I was a tough mom. I said “no” way more than I said “yes.”

I was a mean mom. I talked through clenched teeth more than I’d like to admit.

The people who say, “enjoy every moment,” must have conveniently forgotten what parenting is like.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, the closest I’ve ever come to a rainbow was that one time the baby sharted multicolored bits of crayons. (I was a negligent mom that day.)

It seems like no matter how hard I try, I always fall short of the mom I hope to be.

But I know if I dwell too long on what I should’ve/could’ve/would’ve done differently, I will eventually make myself crazy. I need to give myself more credit for the things I do well. After all, I was a pretty good mom today too.

I was a fun mom. I built a fort out of pillows and blankets.

I was a patient mom. I waited ten minutes for my toddler to “buckle herself in” (read: finally agree to let me help buckle her in).

I was a thoughtful mom. I put away my phone and cuddled with the kids on the couch.

I was a compassionate mom. I kissed boo-boos and hugged away tears.

An inherent part of being a parent is wanting the best for our kids. Not the mediocre. Not the average. The very best.

We expect the best of ourselves as well. Unfortunately, sometimes that means setting ourselves up for failure — putting goals in place that are unattainable at best and soul-crushingly guilt-laden at worst.

It’s not healthy to focus on all the things we did wrong without giving ourselves credit for all the things we got right.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s human nature to focus on the negative. “Mommy guilt” is something I hear about all the time. “Mommy pride?” As far as I know, I just now made that up.

But we should be proud. We brought life into this world. We fed a human being using our own body. We’ve woken up every few hours to feed for weeks to months on end. We’ve cleaned up unspeakable things.

Most importantly, we’ve loved with the entirety of our being. A mother’s love is something very special. It is selfless. It is nurturing. It is unconditional.

When we take the time to count, we find that the good outweighs the not-so-good.

It’s a dance we continue to do every day — a delicate back and forth filled with highs and lows. It is full of imperfections and missteps, but that’s not what defines it. It’s about being mindful of the moves we make. It’s holding it together when we’re afraid it could all fall apart. It’s about finding our way back to the middle.

Sometimes we stumble and sometimes we soar, but we always find our footing. And if we’re lucky, we’ll have learned how to balance a little better tomorrow.

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