You have loved her and hated her.
Been in awe of her and loathed her.
She inspired you and criticized you.
Played your hero and your nemesis.
She did everything for you and yet bugged the shit out of you.
She is your mother … the woman you love and the one you swore you would never be like.
When I became a mother for the first time, I did my due diligence. I read the books and was sure that my nanny experience was enough to get me through this whole “parenting” thing. After all, how hard could it really be? One thing I was sure of was that I was going to do things differently than my mother.
Listen, I am not saying my mom did it wrong or that something terrible happened to me as a kid because both would be incredibly false. I had a normal (albeit happy) childhood; it was the kind that makes you a little sick because it is so ordinary and blissful. I honestly used to wish something catastrophic would happen to give me depth, but lo and behold, I lived my life in the middle (champagne problems I know).
Regardless, every newbie mom swears she can do it better, be different than her mother, and make it look easier. This is the case no matter if your mom was Martha Stewart or Dina Lohan. You are positive you will not be like her.
I had a list. 5 things I was going to do to prevent turning into my mother. It was a surefire plan to take the parenting world by storm.
1. Not Yell
This one lasted until #2 was born and the constant fighting started. The bitching, whining, and crying back and forth was too much, and at some point I found myself yelling, “if you don’t stop crying I will give you something to cry about,” then I cringing as I remembered how many times I had heard that yelled at me.
2. Never be able to memorize a fast food menu
My first word was “french fry,” and I think I knew the entire McDonald’s menu by the age of seven. I promised myself that I was going to be the kind of mom that cooked every meal at home from scratch, probably from my organic vegetables growing out back and my free-range animals roaming around. Needless to say, I think my kids knew their Chipotle orders by the age of four and Punch Pizza by age six. I like to think that I did a little better on this one, though, since we stepped it up a bit on the fast food chains.
3. Not criticize their efforts
I was super good at this one until my kids actually starting doing things like school and sports. Up until that point I was a rock star at encouragement. I find myself now trying to tiptoe around the critique by gently offering advice on how to improve, but you know they know what you are doing and are thinking “F off mom” just like I used to think when my mom told me how to do something better.
4. Allow them to fail
Holy balls, who knew this would reflect so badly on me? I was all ready to let my kids make mistakes and learn until I realized that the whole world is watching, and if they fail, then I fail too. I don’t want to be the mom of failures, so I give them the answers and prevent mistakes but I hate myself for it and know I should stop. Damn the people pleaser in me.
5. Not drink in front of my kids
Who was I kidding with this? Kids are the reason we drink. People who don’t have kids don’t really know how good chardonnay at the end of the day tastes.
These rules only applied before I was a mom, when I was sure I had all the answers, because once that baby was here all preconceived notions went out the window (along with my sex life). I had good intentions. I was going to change the world with my parenting. I was going to make every other mom feel bad about herself. I was going to win awards for my mothering abilities. People would write books about my methods, I was sure of it.
Instead, all I got was screaming, pooping, back talking, door slamming, and name-calling. The moments when all that you have read and fantasied about is totally gone and you find yourself yelling “don’t make me call your father” while you are doling out the Happy Meals that you “made possible” and your other hand is trying not to spill your chardonnay.
So, in the end you may be like you mother … but maybe it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. I mean, you turned out alright, maybe your kids will too.
If not, there are plenty of good therapists to get them through it and plenty of wine for you.