Confessions Of A Bad Mother

November 24, 2009

Yesterday, I took part in a televised discussion about so-called ‘bad parenting,’ shame and confession. I wore a lot of eyeshadow.

I never wear eyeshadow, so I was really kind of embarrassed by it. Later, when I asked my husband what he’d thought of the show, he said, ‘you had some really good things to say, but you looked like you were in pain.’ ‘That was the eyeshadow,’ I said.

I mention the eyeshadow because, in all seriousness, it’s really the only thing that I felt any kind of shame about yesterday. Was I a bad parent? the host asked me. Sure, I said, if only because so many of the choices that I make – choices that I’m pretty comfortable with – are choices that others would call bad. Am I ashamed of that? Hell no. When I ‘confess’ my badness here, in this space, or elsewhere, I’m not doing so out of a desire to expiate myself of some guilt, I’m doing it because I want to talk about the decisions that I’m making, reflect upon them, weave them into some kind of narrative picture of the kind of parent that I am. Also, because I am, like all writers, a narcissist.

That said, after the show – and after the delightful Vivian Rakoff declared, with all the high-pitched fervor of a squealing fangirl, his love for Ayelet Waldman’s husband – I did confess that there were one or two parenting issues about which I do feel guilt/shame. I also said, but I mostly never write about those.

I’m wondering if I dare rethink that. Because, can I really own my claims to honesty and authenticity if I’m holding some of the toughest stuff back? Or is it reasonable – and prudent – for me to calibrate my own shamelessness? Am I – justifiably – moderating the spectacle of my revealed parenthood – or am I just sincerely ashamed? Should we reveal our darkest secrets and fears about parenting – or is there virtue in keeping some things behind the veil?

What do you think? Wanna share?

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    { 63 comments }

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting November 24, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I don’t write about things that would hurt or embarrass my husband, my kids, or my parents. So yes, there are things I don’t write about. There are days when I dream of starting a completely anonymous blog and not telling anyone about it just so that I can get things off of my chest. But usually when that happens I find a friend or two who I can confide in and who will console me, rather than telling the world.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..IComLeavWe: Day 3 =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I’m thinking more of our own parenting ‘sins’, rather than telling tales that involve other people. After the show yesterday, we discussed stuff we’d done as parents about which we felt guilty – and it occurred to me then that most of what I felt guilt about I had never blogged. Which got me wondering: WHY NOT?

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting November 25, 2009 at 12:51 am

    I feel regret about some things and don’t think I’d have trouble sharing those. I’m not sure that I feel guilt though. Twinges of guilt maybe, but nothing that keeps me up at night. Not yet anyway.

    I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect, so I think most stuff just sort of rolls of my back, I apologize to my kids if/as appropriate, and resolve to do better next time if it is something important.

    Do I write about it? It may come up here and there in posts, but I guess there hasn’t been anything significant enough to make into its own post.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..IComLeavWe: Day 4 =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 10:09 am

    For me, it’s not necessarily stuff that keeps me awake at night, but stuff that I choose to not share, in part, I think, because there’s nothing to say about it beyond, well, that sucks when I do that. Stuff – to put the harshest spin on it – that is more or less within my control but that I can’t justify or explain. Stuff I wish I didn’t do.

    But, yeah: permission to be not be perfect. That’s important.

    Megs November 25, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    On the one hand, it’s so important to share our failures, in that “permission to not be perfect” fashion. And to lift taboos. And to invite others to identify.

    It has been so incredibly important to me to read others who owned up to their postpartum depression, for example. This subject may be one group’s failure, but talking about it normalizes it.

    But I suppose that’s the danger in confessing all sins–will they, even with context, become normalized and neutralized?

    Will “Ugh. I have to admit I have *totally* done that, too” become “Oh, I guess it’s completely acceptable to do that…again”?
    .-= Megs´s last blog ..Shhh! He’ll hear you and learn language! =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    To Megs point, above – SUCH a good point. If I confess, say, yelling, or ignoring my kids while I tweet, and everyone else chimes in with a ‘oh, yeah, I do that too!’, am I just establishing that as an acceptable norm? Do I WANT to do that?

    Or, am I giving myself and others permission to not sweat that stuff, while understanding that such stuff should still be avoided, when and where possible?

    Hmmm…

    Redneck Mommy November 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Interesting discussion, in light of the use of the word “Confession.”

    Crystal from Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper posted a confession last week and asked readers to do the same and then in the hubaloo fall out lost her BlogHer ads and closed her blog down.

    Some said she went too far.

    It’s an interesting notion that there is an invisible line to even cross out here on the great interweb.
    .-= Redneck Mommy´s last blog ..Make A Wish =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Seriously? I missed that. I’ve had people ‘confessing’ at the Basement for nearly four years. How far is too far? Was it only because it wasn’t anonymous?

    Redneck Mommy November 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    She confessed to killing her dog with prescription drugs and then asked her readers to confess to something they weren’t very proud of.

    Readers revolted and she then yanked the post.

    She rebutted by saying she didn’t actually kill her dog, but only thought she did because she was hallucinating on Ambien but the damage was done for her.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 10:10 am

    ?!?!?

    WHOA.

    JMegan November 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I agree with Annie – I would never blog about things that would hurt or embarrass my family. I also don’t disclose anything personal that I have not already discussed with my husband. My rule of thumb there is that I would not want him to meet any of my online friends at a real-life barbeque (which we have quite regularly), and discover that they know more about his life than he does.

    Also, my friends and I tend not to talk about things that we genuinely disagree over. I have a good friend who is a big proponent of the cry-it-out method of getting children to sleep. I am strongly opposed to CIO. And having discovered that about each other, we never ever bring it up again.

    We talk about all sorts of aspects of parenting where we agree, but for some reason we stay far away from the areas where we could most learn from each other.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    That’s my concern (I’m not losing sleep over it, but…): that by glossing over the stuff that is most difficult (v.v. potential controversy, or what have you) we miss opportunities for fuller discussion.

    julie@MommySaidWhat? November 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Everyone has a line they won’t cross. The trick is finding it BEFORE you cross it.
    .-= julie@MommySaidWhat?´s last blog ..The post after THE POST =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Perfectly said.

    Carrie November 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I definitely censor myself somewhat when I post things. Partly is so I don’t offend certain people and partly because I don’t want to be put on the pillory for doing whatever it is I’ve done…

    Someday I’d love to be completely open and honest but I’m not sure if my current blog is the place to do that
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..It’s like deja vu… =-.

    Julie Pippert November 24, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Usually, I find pure honesty to either be a fault or selfish. There is prudence to circumspection and anyone who believes themselves able to access or accessing the WHOLE truth or WHOLE story is deluded. First, truth is not an ever fixed mark. Second, it is often impossible for us to share all in one moment because processing and understanding evolve. Third, it is generally a kindness to ourselves and others to maintain some privacy.
    .-= Julie Pippert´s last blog ..A Whale of a Great Slumber Party at SeaWorld =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Maybe that’s it exactly – that with some of the tougher stuff, it’s better (?) to LET processing and understanding evolve, personally. If I just ‘confess’ to a bad moment without understanding it, what do I accomplish? So, then, do I hold these close to my chest because I need/want to understand them (better) before discussing them – because I want those discussions to be about more than just confession?

    LD November 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    For the record, I think you’re an amazing parent. I’ve read you since you started blogging, and even though sometimes I parent differently, I don’t think the choices you make are ever “bad”.
    What I’ve always admired about you is your courage to be honest, and say how you really feel and what you really do.
    Having said that, I think there’s something to be said about filtering stuff. It’s your life, and you have tons of readers. You can feel 100% comfortable in something you do, but not need to share it with the world.
    I think it’s a fine line, and you’re doing a great job managing where your life ends and your blog begins. Because they really are 2 separate things.
    (but, PS I said this without seeing the video since I’m at work)
    .-= LD´s last blog ..A New Day … =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Thank you so much, Laural. That means a lot :)

    Carol November 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I think that it’s alright to have a line you won’t cross when sharing with anyone who can pull up a URL. I wonder if the key for you isn’t in figuring out what is keeping you from writing about certain topics. Not so you can write about them – simply so you can understand them for yourself.

    I do think we are all entitled to the area of privacy we define for ourselves. I also believe there is a limit to what should be ‘out there’ in any given circumstance.

    Issa November 24, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I think sometimes the things we feel the most guilty for, are things we don’t share because we fear how others will judge us. Especially if it’s something that still haunts us to this day, we don’t necessarily need others adding to our guilt about it.

    One thing that I’m finding lately, is that everyone has those things. They may be different, but we all have them.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..You over use the words, I love you =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah. I don’t like judgment. As much as I thumb my nose at it – or say that I do – I don’t like it. And, so, yeah, I probably avoid it more than I’d care to admit.

    cagey November 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    As a reader, I think you hold absolutely no responsibility towards us in revealing all of your secrets. They are YOUR secrets for you to ponder and ultimately, decide whether you want to share them or not. I do not feel it is disingenuous of you to share some things and not others. I view most blogs as “splices of life” anyway and would never expect to get the whole enchilada.

    Marilyn November 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I think it’s a big risk to really lay out all your confessions of how “bad” of mother you (or me) really are. There are days when I’m wracked with mom-guilt. And sometimes if I calm down enough to think about it I realize that what I’m doing is not that bad (e.g letting my kids watch TV for longer than I really think is necessary, or giving my kids KD for dinner). After all how bad is that really? I suppose I could blog about that but would anyone actually give a hoot? The things that I think are really bad might be more interesting to readers but I feel crappy enough about them that I don’t really feel comfortable having the people I know in the “real world” know about it. So I don’t blog about it. And I don’t tell anyone.
    .-= Marilyn´s last blog ..Cheap Toy: Time Waster =-.

    Backpacking Dad November 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Storytellers and historians don’t tell what happened. They tell what matters. You might think “if I’m not telling EVERYTHING then I’m not being honest.” But you don’t tell me the position of every chair in your house, or what the third person from the left in your row at the movies was wearing. Those details don’t matter for most of the contexts that need shaping. Even for things that seem to you to be closer to the topic you want to discuss there are members of the {Parenting Set} that are irrelevant to the narrative.

    What matters to you as a writer, parent, and philosopher trying to undermine and subvert the Cult of the Super Parent? Honesty and transparency are more empty terms than people assume them to be. Relevance and agenda should be guiding you. If someone is really insistent upon the Truth and they think that involves sharing more details rather than sharing more agenda, tell them to start counting atoms.
    .-= Backpacking Dad´s last blog ..Cheap Reflex =-.

    Karen Sugarpants November 24, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    No matter if you decide to confess these things that you feel guilty about, your point about knowing there are people who will judge you/call you a bad mother, ought to be weighed upon possibly finding out that you aren’t alone (and subsequently letting them know they aren’t alone either.)
    I don’t know what that line is for you, but knowing you you’ll find a way to cross it with grace should you decide to. Best of luck with that decision!
    .-= Karen Sugarpants´s last blog ..The Post In Which Adam Avitable Kicks Me In The Fat Ass =-.

    Karen Sugarpants November 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I meant to add there have been several times I’ve read your posts and felt less alone in motherhood. So thanks.
    .-= Karen Sugarpants´s last blog ..The Post In Which Adam Avitable Kicks Me In The Fat Ass =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    xoxoxoxo

    Carrie @ Who Knew? November 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I don’t know. I feel guilt about so many things I do and don’t do with my daughter.

    I know what you mean about parenting being subjective. I was trying to explain to a parentless friend that everyone is a bad parent in someone’s eyes. I make all my daughter’s food (versus buying jars), so that makes me a good mom. I work full-time, so that makes me a bad mom. No matter what there will always be someone who thinks you aren’t doing a good job. The problem is that it’s such a hard job, I think most mothers are pretty insecure (even if it’s deep down).
    .-= Carrie @ Who Knew?´s last blog ..To Do or Not to Do =-.

    Megs November 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Well said. And I find that it’s not just that one choice makes you a “good mom” and one choice makes you a “bad mom”; often, the SAME choice makes you a good mom to some, a bad mom to others. Like attachment parenting, cosleeping, etc.

    Or you are a “good mom” but being that “good” is bad. I actually get made fun of/shunned in conversation because I make all of my child’s food. Like I’m a crazy hippy because I know how to steam a green bean.

    Since when is cooking, which is essentially what we’re doing, weird?
    .-= Megs´s last blog ..Shhh! He’ll hear you and learn language! =-.

    Kim Tracy Prince November 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I don’t write about the times my choices or my negligence may have briefly put my children in physical danger. What? You know it’s happened to you, too. We just leave those parts out, don’t we?
    .-= Kim Tracy Prince´s last blog ..10 Things About Zumba =-.

    Emma November 24, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    There’s LOTS of things I don’t blog or tweet about.

    However, if I am looking for a ‘me, too’ or ‘is this okay?’ in the general sense, in a small b bad mother sense, there’s this wonderful online community I think you are pretty familiar with.

    I didn’t like how much discussion on the show was focused on online confession as showmanship. Or showwomanship. Or whatever.

    That is totally not what this is about; never has one of your posts struck me as about that. I thought you were very well spoken. In defense of online confession as community building.

    And as a person who has seen you in real life several times, I didn’t think the eye make up was too much. You looked great. :)

    Marinka November 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    My daughter is 11 and internet-savvy and recently I’ve been worried that she’ll find my twitter page. There’s nothing awful on it, I’m not vivisecting kittens (yet), but I do curse and roll my eyes and wish the kids would get the hell to bed already so that I can tweet in peace.

    I’m worried that she’ll find it because I worry that it’ll be hurtful to her to know that her mother, at some very rate moments, wanted her to shut the hell up already and leave me alone. I even considered making a fake Twitter account where I post things like pie recipes and talk about how satisfying motherhood is.

    And it is. But it’s hard to get that in at 140 characters.
    .-= Marinka´s last blog ..Some Celebrity Sightings Are Better Than Others =-.

    Meg November 25, 2009 at 10:22 am

    We all do things that we regret or are completely stupid, but that’s part of parenting. Sharing these things with others allows you to know that you’re not alone. And most of your posts have me nodding along, as I’ve done many of the same things…
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Signs I’m Screwing Up My Kid: =-.

    Capital Mom November 25, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I share some things that I am not proud of or feel guilty about. But when I share them it is because I am working through them or have worked through them. I feel confident that despite that action or behaviour or feeling, I will move past it and am still the mom I want to be.
    The things I don’t share are the ones I am still thinking about, the things that I’m not sure yet how to get to the other side off. The stuff that I don’t really want my dad to read on my blog. Since I know he reads it that is a good test of whether or not I want to post about it. I have gotten some phone calls/ emails from him very concerned about what he has read. If only he knew. :-)

    Theresa November 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hi there,

    So funny that you ask that question! It’s been a year and I have not so far been able to write about my experience with post partum depression on my blog. Which is weird because I am absolutely in favour of sharing ALL the faces of parenthood because let’s be honest, a lot of it is just plain UGLY! I also don’t write anything negative about my husband and his parenting skills because that just doesn’t seem fair since we’re a team and all.

    OK, I’m going to do the PPD post now. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Angela November 25, 2009 at 11:16 am

    My entire family and anyone from my work have access to reading my blog. I don’t worry so much about strangers, but knowing anything I write can and will be read by people close to me, well, that keeps me on my toes.

    That said, I am a pretty darn open person so I put just about anything up there. The posts I usually worry about are ones about my past, not my parenting. But so far it’s all turned out fine. The post I really worried about was about me being raped at 17. I thought my dad would freak. Turns out he already knew somehow.
    .-= Angela ´s last blog ..There must be something to blog about =-.

    sweetsalty kate November 25, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I must confess. I’m totally crushing on Vivian Rakoff.

    Swoon.
    .-= sweetsalty kate´s last blog ..in the cabin =-.

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting November 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Finally got around to watching the video. Interesting conversation for sure.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..Would you satisfy my curiosity? Transition from crib to big kid bed =-.

    jaelithe November 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Ah, so thanks to the wonder of the internets, I CAN watch your strange Canadian TV! Where people actually take turns speaking instead of interrupting and talking over one another, and TV personalities openly show off their French skills without fear of ridicule.

    I also have at times avoided writing about some of my worst parenting moments. But you know, I don’t think fully consciously. If someone asked me, in person, to talk about my worst parenting moments, I am pretty sure I would tell them openly. I think I don’t write as much about them because when I write things I relive them, and it’s hard to relive moments when I did the wrong thing to one of the people I love most in the world.

    Coincidentally, I’m working right now on beginning some very serious writing about my experiences as the parent of a child with special needs, and I’m taking a very critical look at some of my early failures, in the hopes of helping others feel better about their own mistakes.

    GreenInOC November 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    sweetsalty kate,

    That’s so funny – I LOVED Vivian Rakoff too!

    I really enjoyed the entire conversation and appreciate the courage it takes to have an honest, introspective discussion.

    Plus, I couldn’t even tell you were wearing any eyeshadow so to the rest of the world you just looked like a cool Mom!
    .-= GreenInOC´s last blog ..I’m Thankful For Sarah Palin Fans (and New Left Media)! =-.

    mrs chicken November 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I think it is one thing to share the mothering moments about which we feel shame, and another, entirely, to write about them in an effort to glorify ourselves or receive absolution. I have written about mothering moments that caused me shame and pain in order to prevent myself from demonstrating that behavior again — in an effort to remind myself, chastise myself for those moments.

    Not for the sake of glorifying or seeking approval. Know what I mean?
    .-= mrs chicken´s last blog ..Thankful … For This Virus =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Totally. I try to be mindful of that whenever I write. I sometimes close comments just to avoid the very temptation of seeking approval or reassurance (as I did in post after this one.) Because I want my admissions here to fall into your first category. For sure.

    ggs_closet November 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I think everyone has moments in parenthood where you look back and say, “OMG I can’t believe I did that.”
    Lord knows I do.
    I use a personal journal for confession.
    I figure I could blog about it but for what reason. Chances are the moment has passed and I made what I thought was the correct decision at that time.
    If it was a bad decision then I know it will stick w/me and not be repeated.
    If it was a good decision then I’ll high 5 myself in bask in an adulation of my own making. lol
    I read someone’s blog last yr(can’t remember who now-that’s terrible)where they had a page about starting a blog.
    One of the 3 things on their list that stuck out at me that I follow are these:

    1. Don’t talk about your family and kids in a negative way.
    2. Don’t blog about things you wouldn’t say to that persons face.
    3. Don’t lie.
    .-= ggs_closet´s last blog ..WTH Wednesdays =-.

    Alex November 26, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I was whoring around the internet when the whole hulla bulloo with Crystal and her blog went down. Her followers went ballistic. She emailed me and told me she was okay but the damage had been caused. Moral of the story?

    Be careful what you share. And if you need to write it down, start an anonymous blog that doesn’t effect your income or family.

    BY THE WAY watched your video of the baby falling off the table and I laughed. How bad is that? I wouldn’t feel guilty about it, it’s not like you pushed him!
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..Yawn… =-.

    Stone Fox November 26, 2009 at 2:50 am

    i am all about the sharing. monsters only live in the dark, so if you bring out a monster or two, someone will read it and say, hey, that’s me too. with anything in life, knowing you are not the only one with that condition/those feelings/that circumstance is very freeing. no longer does that monster have to live in the closet if you can say you’re not the only one.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Resentment =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Love that, monsters only living in the dark. Yes.

    Kristen (Rage Against the Minivan) November 26, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Per the youtube video, right there with you:

    http://thehowertons.blogspot.com/2009/11/doctor-is-in.html

    Although, for whatever reason the falling baby thing doesn’t bother me as much. I definitely have parenting faults that I don’t blog about.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you for that. SO comforting. ;)

    kootnygirl November 26, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Okay, I’m totally cheating because you closed comments on the other post, but I wanted to say that being distracted does not make you a bad mother, even if there is a bad outcome.

    Bad mother is when you completely neglect your child and let them walk onto a highway in a 3-day old diaper (a la Nancy Dyer).

    Bad mother is when your child has an accident because you aren’t paying attention, and then you yell at him for that accident.

    You dropped the camera and comforted your son; you didn’t give him hell for having the audacity to fall off the chair.
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..not hungry much =-.

    Alison November 26, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I know I’m not answering your question but what I found interesting on the video discussion was the whole misogynistic thing, and the emails (from men)and whether the backlash against blogging is really getting women to shut up. Whilst I think there is truth in this, aren’t most of our blogs read by other women? Aren’t the nasty troll comments made by fellow mothers?

    By the way, you looked great!
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Welcome back =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Very good point. Most of the misogyny, I think, comes from mainstream media (I get the most hateful – male – trollage when I’m covered by mainstream media.) But we’re guilty of… something… too, for sure. What do we call that, though?

    Rhia November 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Also cheating and commenting on the other post.
    Oh man, if being distracted is real bad mothering then I am awful. I have to figure that my allowing baby to stand up and fall down and pull chairs over on himself when I’m cooking or looking at the screen or whatever… well, it’s more of the Free Range Parenting style than neglect.

    We learn from experience and I agree with the prior commenter, dropping everything to comfort them is the key, not preventing the experiences.

    Back to lurking!

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Such is the beauty of Free Range Parenting. But is there such a thing as too Free? Especially when it involves toddlers, and making YouTube videos?

    red pen mama November 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with most of the commenters here. I know for me, my own blog is to talk about my frustrations of parenting, the joys of same, and some of my own issues (anxiety, smoking). When/if my husband makes an appearance, it’s not a passive aggressive ploy on my part; it’s something that we’ve discussed.

    As far as “distracted” parenting: Oh, my, dear, I thought that was the norm. Who sits in the same room all the time with his/her children, whether we’re making dinner or tweeting?

    BTW, did I tell you about the time Flora fell — from my arms — onto her head? When she was 4-months-old? Stellar parenting moment right there. She’s perfectly fine, but I’ve never blogged about it.

    ciao, dear.

    rpm
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Thankful Thursday =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Yeah. Falling babies? Been there too. **solidarity-fist-pump**

    Lisa November 28, 2009 at 12:49 am

    I would like to see the conversation of guilt and shame in motherhood transformed to something different.

    First, those examples you give of momentary inattentiveness – or attentiveness to something else – sound like normal, every day things that happen. to have any expectation that a human cannot be 100% focused every moment of the day at exactly the right thing at the right moment, is unreasonable to the point where it’s ludicrous.

    I think a more interesting discussion would be how to let go of these feelings. Or to acknowledge them for what they are – an instinctual impulse to help the species survive. If we didn’t feel like we must protect our offspring every second of every day, we’d never survive. so there is that impulse, and that instinctual sense of failure and shame if something happens.

    But there is also room for us to realize what is going on. To acknowledge things happen.

    Honestly, I don’t know that all of this attention is good for children. In the history of humans, there was never this parent with all this idle* time to devote to watching a child. Idle* compared to pre-industrialized civilization when much of the day was spent on procuring food. Humans have survived for milennia without an adult so closely focused on children.

    Her Bad Mother November 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

    It’s not so much the momentary inattentiveness that causes me guilt as it is the larger pattern of being distracted by silly things. That photo/video-still the other week of Jon Gosselin texting while his kids tugged at his pants and everyone was all, what a douche? I looked at that and thought, yep. That could be me. I’m not ‘working the fence’ or brushing my children away but I do have moments where the tweet or the text has my attention and I’m not all there for them and it just kinda feels, ugh, sometimes, when I think about it.

    But yeah, I agree. ‘Helicopter’ parenting never served anyone well. And this discussion, I’d hope, wouldn’t skew in that direction.

    6512 and growing November 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    The writer Nora Ephron says: (paraphrasing here) “When I was raising my kids (60′s and 70′s) there was no word *parenting*. You just raised your kids.”

    Clearly there’s a whole lot of focus on *parenting* today, which is fun, interesting and causes parents to evaluate the hell out of their *parenting*.

    My son did a lot of hospital time as a newborn and I spent a lot of time with parents of hospitalized kids and during that time felt so strongly that it’s all about love, everything else is details.

    Not to say my judging self don’t kick my ass whenever I let my kids eat sugar or watch movies. Oy Vey!
    .-= 6512 and growing´s last blog ..Of thankfuls and medicinal weather =-.

    Tina C. November 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    highlarious video of buzz and the fall. i am constantly amazed at the stuff my 19 month old will climb up to. i like to keep the wonderment alive each day by not anticipating what kind of shit he’ll get into, or how easily he can find the knife on whatever surface it’s been left on. oh when will i ever learn???? no concussions yet. keep on truckin mama.

    kittenpie December 1, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    what am I ashamed of? that the year of three was also the year of yelling. That I won’t always back down when I should. And that I am stricter with Pumpkinpie because she is easier, when I need to take more time for fun with her – but when?

    Also? You can’t see the eyeshadow.

    Her Bad Mother December 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Ah. I am stricter with Emilia because she is bigger and – gods help me, for my mother used to say this – ‘she should know better.’

    Also, the yelling, yes. SIGH.

    Alison of a Gun December 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    So…Louise is a man, right? I can’t be the only one that thought so. More power to her, but…I’m curious.

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