This post is inspired by reading this earlier today.
I’m not a very good mother. My daughter won’t eat anything, so I let her live on a diet of junk and chicken nuggets. (And bacon.) I have this calendar and, like, chore chart in our library. I never do it with her. I like the concept of doing a lot of arts and crafts with her. I don’t actually do them, though. I’m over-indulgent sometimes, and sometimes way too short of patience. I let her watch True Blood.
And I think that’s fine. I mean, sometimes I think that’s fine. And I think it’s important to share with each other our struggles, to remind ourselves that this Martha-Stewart-by-way-of-Mary-Poppins ideal of motherhood is just not happening IRL. For anyone.
So here’s what Zoe’s and my day looked like:
7:40: Wake up. (I know, that’s late for a mom. But last night, I was trying to chillax before bed and Zoe was in her bed watching a movie on her iPad – Bad Mommy! – and then instead of falling asleep to it, she came to bother me at 10:30. So I sent her to my bed – Bad Mommy! – and then finally moved her sleeping body to her own bed at, like, 11:15 – Okay Mommy?. I know moms complain about how early their kids wake up and are envious that mine sleeps so late, but that’s because she goes to bed so late. I bet they get to have conversations with their husbands on weekdays while their children are asleep. I do not. Bad Wife! Which is the same as being a Bad Mommy because don’t I know that a strong marriage is so healthy for the children?!) Brush teeth. Get dressed.
7:50: Peek in on Zoe. Notice she is blinking. Go in for some snuggling. Good Mommy!
8:00: After some negotiation – Bad Mommy? Shouldn’t I not stoop to negotiating with my child but instead be strong and in charge? Don’t children thrive on consistent and rigid schedules? On the other hand, am I not respecting her autonomy and teaching her about compromise? – determine that Zoe will pick out her clothes while I go get Beauty and the Beast – Bad Mommy! No TV! Also, no princesses! – then she can watch in my bed while getting dressed until it’s time to leave for school. Pretty sure that’s Bad Mommy, too.
8:02: Come back up to find Zoe is getting dressed in her own room. “Is it cold today?” “Yes. You need long sleeves and pants. It’s winter.”
8:03: In the bathroom to get out her vitamins and prep her toothbrush. She comes in to show me a skimpy t-shirt and a sundress. “You can wear the t-shirt with a sweater over it.” “No, Mom! I want to wear long sleeves under it!” “Uh . . . okay?” I don’t have any problem with that, although I do have a problem with her tone. I mention this mildly. Bad Mommy! I should take a firmer stance against disrespect! She goes back to her room.
8:05: “Okay, Zoe, I put your toothbrush and vitamins on Daddy’s nightstand. You can press play on the movie when you’re ready. Take your vitamins and brush your teeth and come down when you’re ready.” I go downstairs to eat breakfast and watch The Daily Show. Way Bad Mommy.
8:10: She comes down in the aforementioned skimpy t-shirt, with a tie-dyed long-sleeved shirt under it, and her cupcake pajama pants, and two different socks. She is quite pleased with herself. Bad Mommy! Pajamas to school? “Did you brush your teeth and take your vitamins?” No. But she does want to show me exactly which spot on the floor she wants her wooden menorah. And make a root beer float. Which I okay. Bad Mommy!
8:12: The menorah properly placed, Zoe goes upstairs with her float to take her vitamins and brush her teeth. I remind her that she has to come down when I call her to go to preschool. I do not check to make sure she does brush her teeth and take her vitamins. Bad Mommy!
8:36: I call her to come down. She does, slowly. I start snapping. “Come on, come on! Shoes! We’re going to be late!” Bad Mommy! It’s my own fault we’re going to be late; I got caught up in the Cory Booker interview on TDS. I should be more mindful of the time and start moving her before lateness is imminent.
9:05: We only five minutes late! Go us! Bad Mommy – five minutes late should be the problem, not the good day. Teacher questions pajama pants and points out Zoe needs chapstick. Bad Mommy! Also it did require taking the highway, for which there is a toll, which Jason doesn’t want us to do. Bad Wife!
9:30: I return Fantasia to the library and take out A Charlie Brown Christmas. Good mommy? Sure. Good Jew? Eh.
12:00: Pick-up. I discuss a playdate with the mom of the boy who’s going to break break her, break break her heart. Bad Mommy? But she really wants this playdate. I think it’s a wash.
12:10: In the car, I ask her how she feels about a trip to Target. Bad Mommy! Why am I asking? And what is her answer? Not so good. She wants to go to her favorite bakery, Sweet Whimsy, instead. I tell her we are going there, but at Target, she needs to help me pick out pretty paper for a present for Aunt Kate. Now she’s into it. I tell her we also need a card for my friend and her mommy. My friend lost her stepfather this week. I tell Zoe that, and remind her about me losing my stepfather and how sad I was. “But you were happy because you had me!” she reminds me. Bad Mommy! I discuss death with her! And I discuss my emotions openly! And she feels responsible for them, which is probably unhealthy! But I like the idea of normalizing the role of death in our lives, and also normalizing her role in a community. So, good mommy? “Yes, but my friend doesn’t have a Zoe. So we need to get a card to help her feel better. Will you help me?” Yes. She is enthused about helping me. Good Mommy!
12:17: She hops out of the car and starts dashing towards an on-coming car. Bad Mommy! Why is my child so undisciplined? I grab her arm. She’s very angry at me for doing so. Bad Mommy! I hurt her! And she’s being “disrespectful” again! I carry her into the store, explaining how terrible I would feel if she got hurt and I could have stopped it. Bad Mommy! Guilt trip!
12:19: I need to use the restroom. She doesn’t. I leave her in the cart outside the stalls with my purse, assuming no one will steal her, or it. Bad Mommy!
12:22: We pick out nail polish together. She wants red and sparkly. Of course. We get it. Bad Mommy?
12:23: We spot a dip-dyed chambray shirt with white hearts. She wants me to buy it for myself. I tell her I will in no circumstance be wearing that shirt. Bad Mommy? Would a good mommy buy the shirt if her daughter wants her to wear it instead of snarking on it? Regardless of purchase, would a good mommy teach her daughter to snark others’ fashion choices?
12:24: We see an absolutely gorgeous holiday dress for little girls. For $100. In Target. WTF?
12:25: Zoe is very helpful in picking out a sympathy card. And holiday cards for our family. And wrapping paper. We do not find any good papers for my project for Aunt Kate. But we do find great headbands for Zoe. And stickers. Bad Mommy! I’m being too indulgent.
12:32: We are getting to the point of the Target trip where I remind her that I’m already getting her two headbands, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, stickers, and a flower paper kit. So when I say no to the next five thing she wants, she just has to put up with it. Bad Mommy! I said yes to all those other things, how can she know when the “no”s will start? I should have given her a limit at the beginning of the shopping trip! (Although I am pleased that one of the things she wants is something she’s getting for Chanukah tonight.)
1:05: Zoe is careful in the parking lot of Sweet Whimsy to demonstrate that she is trustworthy in parking lots. Good Mommy! Unless I’m not supposed to trust her in parking lots, no matter how trustworthy she is. Then, Bad Mommy!
2:05: We are home. She wants her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups now, instead of after dinner, like she promised. I tell her she needs healthy food first. She wants a cheese stick. I’m pretty sure Bad Mommy!
2:10: She has lost interest in food. I tell her I need to go up and work and she should play. She follows me up and tries to sit on my lap and get me to read to her and stuff. I don’t. I respond to e-mails and start this blog post instead. Bad Mommy. Totes.
The day is not over. I’m probably going to do another 50 terrible things and another 20neutral things and maybe another 5 good things before she goes to bed.
My point is just this – our kids will probably be fine. As long as our Bad Mommy! moments aren’t, like, “I held my kid’s hand on the hot stove,” or “I left my four-year-old alone for two weeks while I went to Vegas,” they’ll probably be fine.