Bad Mother Is As Bad Mother Does

February 4, 2011

Usually, when I say that I’m a bad mother, I have my tongue jammed pretty firmly into the fleshy innards of my cheek. Even when I insist that I am not making a tongue-in-cheek statement – when I state that we’re all bad mothers, according to someone (because someone, somewhere, always thinks that we are, every single one of us, doing it wrong) – I’m still flirting with being coy. I don’t really believe that I’m a bad mother, on any terms other than those set out by whatever paradigm happens to be dominating the cultural discourse around what constitutes ‘good’ motherhood. And I think that my judgment is pretty sound here: I’ve looked at good motherhood and bad motherhood from all sides now, and I’m pretty sure that I’m right when I say that the whole idea of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ motherhood is mostly a crock.

All of which is simply to say this: I’m not a bad mother, not really. Except when I am.

This week I feel like I am. I’m struggling mightily against it, but I’m having a really hard time. I was away all last week. I’m sick this week. I’m fighting off waves of depression and anxiety. I am spending a lot of time on the couch. It’s hard to be a fully involved and engaged mother when you’re on your back on the couch, wheezing and moaning bitter nothings about lo, lo, the encroaching dark. And although I know – I know – that this is just another part of motherhood – what mother doesn’t get sick, or stumble through the dark wood of depression, or simply just need a day or two to lay down with a damp cloth over her eyes? – it still feels like bad motherhood when your little girl hovers over you, clutching her crayons and coloring books, saying please, please Mommy can we play art school? and you just lay there, whispering please, sweetie, Mommy can’t right now, unless it’s an art school where the teachers give their lessons laying down. (Look, there could be such a thing, right? How did Michelangelo learn how to paint ceilings?)

Or when you give your children frozen pizza for the third day in a row because you just can’t face making anything that involves doing more than opening a package, and even then the whole process gives you a headache and you curse whatever gods decided that frozen pizza should take 19 minutes to bake instead of, you know, 5.

Or when your daughter misses ballet class because you’re too sick to make it the three blocks down the road to the dance school and in any case her dance clothes aren’t out of the laundry, so it’s not like it was going to happen anyway.

Or when you make your husband take charge of the whole evening bath-to-bed routine for the week, even though he was on his own for nearly a week last week, doing that routine and every other routine while you were away.

Or when you realize that the toddler is on his third juice box of the day, and even though it’s a 100% pure apple juice juice box, it’s still a JUICE BOX, and really, shouldn’t he be drinking some milk?

Or when, after you’ve realized that the toddler is on his third juice box of the day – THIRD OF THE DAY – and remembered that apple juice gives him the runs, you still can’t will yourself to do much more than to text your husband – who is in the next room – pls dont give J more apple juice b/c teh runs, k?

Or when you do the calculations and decide that getting up to make sure that no more juice boxes find their way into the chubby grasping hands of your juice-freak toddler will require more effort than just insisting that your husband is on diaper duty for the night, and comport yourself accordingly, which is to say, you stay on the couch with your Nyquil and text ur on diaper duty dude k thx xoxo.

That’s when you feel like a bad mother. Not an ironic bad mother, not a nudge-nudge-wink bad mother, not a “let’s use the term ‘bad mother’ to subvert the cultural hegemony of the idea of the ‘good mother’” bad mother. Just a bad mother.

Even as I type those words, I berate myself. I know that none of this – a few days on the couch, the missed ballet class, a few too many frozen pizzas and juice boxes – adds up to BAD MOTHER, full caps, but still. Knowing that is one thing; believing it is another. And my beliefs – my in-the-moment, how-am-I-feeling-right-now, how-do-I-measure-up, is-there-maybe-something-to-that-Tiger-Mom-business gut feelings – are messing with my knowledge. I know that I’m best damn mother for my children, that no-one could love them better, that no-one could cherish them more. But in moments like these, moments when I’m having a hard time just standing up, never mind getting them balanced meals and making sure they get to dance class, I believe that I could be doing it better, and that because there’s a better that I could be doing, I feel compelled to define where I’m at as worse.

I know. I’m messing with my own head. I know that. I know that. And I know that it’s important that I remind myself that this kind of – what do they call it? – negative self talk is just so much bullshit, so much dominant cultural discourse echo chamber nonsense, and that when it reverberates through my brain and rattles around in my heart I need to just call it out for the crap that it is and tell it to shut the f*ck up. But – and here’s the thing – I also know that I don’t want that to become a reflexive behavior; I know that I don’t want to ever stop being self-reflective and critical – constructively critical – of my parenting. I don’t want to sit back and just wave off every prick of self-doubt as just noise from The Man, man. I want to be alert, always, to the possibility that I could be doing it better – whatever better means – that I could be loving better, caring better, being more mindful, being more present. I want to keep that front of mind, always, even as I remind myself that there is no such thing as the universalizable good mom and self-sacrifice is just another word for ‘let the woman do the laundry.’ Even as I remind myself that the greatest gift that I can give myself, as a mother – and so one of the greatest gifts that I can give my children, as their mother – is to not only forgive myself for my humanity, but to embrace that humanity in all of its messy, complicated glory.

But it’s hard. There are days when I don’t know how to balance those things. Today is one of those days.

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    { 71 comments }

    Sungold February 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

    You talk of parenting mindfully. One of the major things I learned through mindfulness meditation is that compassion begins with treating oneself compassionately. If your body lets you ponder a thought for a moment, that’s one I’ve found immensely helpful.

    At least you didn’t start crying over dinner as I did tonight, desperate for the children to talk kindly for one another, frazzled because their father, my mate, continued to let me be the default parent when I sorely needed a moment’s peace. And hey – I’m not even sick. (Yet.) Also my kids are older than yours (7 and 11).

    I actually think kids learn something when we are sick or overwhelmed. They learn that we will come back to hug them and love them and support them – but in the meantime, they gain a little autonomy and a boost in self-confidence. If their other parent is present, they deepen their relationship with him or her.

    And please, please, forgive yourself the pizzas. No one starved. No one was hauled off on a gurney, in a straitjacket. That means you get to start fresh tomorrow – or next week.

    Warmly,
    Sungold (who was just ready to QUIT the ole parenting gig today)

    Angela@beggingtheanswer February 4, 2011 at 9:15 am

    @Sungold, “No one starved. No one was hauled off on a gurney, in a straitjacket. That means you get to start fresh tomorrow – or next week.”
    THANK YOU for these words! When I start berating myself about my parenting skills, I find it very hard to remember that tomorrow will be a new day.

    Her Bad Mother February 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    @Angela@beggingtheanswer, yes, I love that. If ‘straitjacket’ is my bar I’m doing okay-ish ;)

    Beth February 4, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I know you hear (read) this a lot, but thanks. I don’t comment a lot but every once in a while I have to tell these bloggers — who I think of as almost celebrities and shouldn’t becuase of that is why I read them becuase they are just moms too. Yet you are not because it seems as if you are better, cooler, more I don’t know… profound. But this post made me remember why I come back and read. Thanks again.

    Her Bad Mother February 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    @Beth, aw, thank you :)

    (and, cooler? SO NOT. ;) )

    carrien (she laughs at the days) February 4, 2011 at 4:43 am

    But if you don’t have bad days and get through them how ever will your children learn how to deal with the bad days that they WILL have as adults. They don’t need to see you get it right all the time, they need to see you be a real person who deals with the hard times as well as you can. Like you just did. Then they will know that bad days are alright, you can get through, and it’s ok to lay on the couch with a cold cloth on your head when it hurts.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    @carrien (she laughs at the days), you’re totally right. wisely stated :)

    Emma February 4, 2011 at 5:36 am

    What if you think of it this way: by admitting that at times you are, if not a BAD MOTHER, a could-do-better mother*, you are still subverting the cultural hegemony of the idea of the “good mother” … because I imagine there are very few people who can meet their own ideals, let alone cultural ideals, all the time… or who, when they continue to meet their ideals even when they don’t really feel like doing so, don’t at least occasionally feel some resentment or self-pity about this … and this – this not always meeting ideals, this not always being able to do our very best, or even wanting to – is OK.

    (* although honestly, when you are sick or super stressed I think “could-do-better” flies out the window, it’s really “do-the-best-you-can-to-keep-things-functioning-at-least-somewhat-normally”… which in my mind is still good parenting)

    Marcia February 4, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I am currently fighting this same state of motherhood. I have mountains of laundry that I walk by, I close my eyes, pretending they are not there. I will acknowledge them, but not right now, so my house appears to be in a state of disarray, not living up to the “perfect house, perfect children” delusion of motherhood.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    @Marcia, I can’t even pretend my mountains of laundry aren’t there. They’re blocking the way to the bedrooms.

    Katherine @ Postpartum Progress February 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Ditto. On the entire post. Just ditto.

    Erin February 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Ug. On one hand, I have to say that I am supper glad that someone else is feeling this way right now. And on the other, well, I am sorry that someone else is feeling this way right now.

    It seems every late winter I go through this. I don’t know if it is seasonal affective disorder, or just being tired of winter. I find that the worst part is the panic of is this just a week of the blahs, or am I going to feel like this for 3 to 6 months again? That panic right there is sometimes the hardest part to face.

    And nothing anyone says helps, because it usually just makes you feel guilty for feeling that way. So I offer you this; you are not alone. Our families can handle it, and we will be okay. Hopefully soon.

    February can kiss my ass.

    Sara Savel February 4, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I’m on the sofa too. Part of it is this damned insomnia I can’t shake. Part of it is feeling overwhelmed by life. My toddler has been on a steady diet of sun butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and nick jr. I do the basics of our daily rhythm feed, change, clean, play…but I know I should be doing more. Baking bread, knitting, cicle time. The sun is shining. We should be taking a walk.

    Meanwhile I am unshowered, drinking diet coke, reading Mama blogs, and instead of an enriching activity, my little boy is bonding with Elmo. And I don’t even know how to knit.

    But here is the thing: Even when we are on the sofa…We are present to our children. We might be tired but we are still the Mama.

    We aren’t mainlining heroin. We aren’t locking our kids in closets. We aren’t spending their grocery money on shoes. We certainly aren’t forcing them to play piano while their bladders burst and calling them garbage.

    KimSmith February 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I’m there this week. Sick, pregnant on top of that, and all I want to do if lay down and die. My toddler has watched ungodly amounts of television this week, crap food constantly, and don’t even think about playing! I just can’t right now.

    Next week will be better.

    Sandra February 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I am in the midst of the handwringing of what am I going to do with my life now that the girl is 5 and in full SK. Feeling guilty that I am not.doing.more with my talents right now. And then beating myself up for the handwringing itself!

    Gah….

    It feels so either/or. I need to get rolling with some paid work/something for me yet I really don’t want it to take me away from being present with the girl. And just got back from a marketing meeting at the girl’s school where other committee members spoke disparagingly of moms who aren’t doing paid work. Do I really have to do it all???

    Her Bad Mother February 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    @Sandra, no. You don’t have to do it all. Neither do I. Let’s keep reminding each other of that.

    Kristen February 4, 2011 at 11:54 am

    On those days where I’m my most achingly, woefully, pathetically human–i.e. when I’m shoved into a world of my own snot/vomit/sloth/sickness/depression/all-around-feel-like-shittiness–I always try and tell myself that there is some value in the kids witnessing my vulnerability.

    Is this a lie that I tell to make myself feel better about the days when I too feel like a bad mother? Dear god, I hope not. I mean, seriously. I hope not.

    (And then maybe there’s THIS: there’s some value in me accepting my vulnerability.)

    In any case, I think the fact that you care at all about being more loving, caring, mindful, and present as a mother shows that you are, in fact, all of these things.

    Roberta February 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Having one of those weeks too. I’m just tired. It’s cold. There are wolves. I’ve yelled this week. I’ve cursed. I’ve been horribly short fused. I’m trying to figure out what I need to get out of this funk. And then I’m just ashamed of myself, because even after I’ve yelled, and made her cry a little, she hugs me. The girl hugs me. “Mama,” she says, “please pick me up.” I’ve got to do better.

    Her Bad Mother February 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Wait, what? WOLVES?

    Laural February 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I’m right there with you.
    Lately I’ve been feeling like a crappy mom, and I will admit that last night my son was playing DS in bed and I left my husband to deal and I went to bed. Because I knew that I’d have to wake up this morning and start the whole day over – wake up, workout, get kids up, work all day, make it through bedtime.
    And i’m tired.
    And cranky.
    And then I see other moms doing spectacular things. And i feel accomplished because I thought to remember Valentine’s is coming up and we need to decide what character cards to buy (Phineas and Ferb? Superman?) to buy. And I know some of my mom friends are making homemade Valentine’s with their kids.
    And I am not even making my son sign all of them.
    And Monday I forgot my son had a PD day and my nanny had to tell me.
    But, then I watch my kids. And they are funny and sweet and forgive me my shortcomings. And I figure I must be doing something right. Despite everything.
    But, I’m glad I’m not the only one at that stage right now.
    Hope you feel better soon.

    Her Bad Mother February 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Ah. The forgotten PD day. That happened to me TODAY.

    Lisa February 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    How about this? Those feelings, those thoughts – those are those bumpy strips next to the highway, that warn us that we are veering off the path. No major damage, we can drive on them for a bit, but it’s just irritating enough to keep us from veering over too far, from hitting the guard rail. They reminds us to self-correct, as we surely will.

    The truly bad mother doesn’t have those voices. The truly bad mother is so caught up in her own pain that she doesn’t care. Those voices, that guilt, is what tells you that you *do* care, even when you are hurting yourself.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    @Lisa, ah, those safety strips. I love that image :)

    Shauna February 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    It really does sound like this week sucks, and it sounds like life has thrown you a couple of rock filled snowballs.

    Good for you for being able to write about it. It takes effort to describe what you are feeling and share it with the blogosphere.

    Lisa February 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Teaching your children that mommy has needs, mommy needs attending to – that is a very, valuable lesson. You don’t want your daughter to grow up to be one of those women who never takes care of herself, never acts like a real, live human being, but merely a long-suffering martyr, do you?

    Your children are seeing your husband take care of you, of them, they are seeing him pick up the slack, just like they’ve seen you do the same. What a wonderful example of partnership and love for them to see.

    Even if it makes you cranky, all the extra work. Because, hey, who likes extra work? But they’ll learn that there are times when they just need to suck it up for the ones they love and no it’s not fun, but hey, you do it even when it’s not fun. That’s what family and relationships and life is all about.

    Lisa February 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    And thank you, again, for sharing this part of yourself, this vulnerable, authentic part of yourself.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    @Lisa, thank you for reading and supporting that sharing :)

    feefifoto February 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Please stop beating yourself up. Clean laundry does not equal good parenting.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

    @feefifoto, I know. But it’s sometimes hard to remember that when you’ve had to put girl socks on the boy toddler for the third day in a row because that’s all that’s clean ;)

    Sarah February 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Well thought out post, thanks for writing when I am sure you didn’t feel like it while being so frazzled, because that is exactly how I think on a regular basis. I believe motherhood is a journey, and one on a road not straight but of hills which can sometimes become mountains, and valleys that occaissionally deepen into an abyss. Thankfully we are strong (and smart) enough to use the downward momentum when we reach the top of one mountain to get us out of the next abyss when we need to. It’s what makes us special and what brings greatness and resilience to our kids.

    Liza@Blahggy February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I have been having one of those days every day this week, too. I’m also sick and, like you, was gone all last week, leaving the husband to do all of “my” duties and this week asking that he do the same AND take care of me. Except I’ve handed my 8 month old over to her grandparents, which is wonderful in the sense that they’re so close to us and CAN take her, but not wonderful in the sense that I haven’t seen her since Monday morning (except for 45 minutes yesterday) and I feel like I’m NOT her mother. I don’t even feel like a BAD mother…I just don’t feel like a mother at all.
    So, thank you for sharing and making those of us in the same situation feel less alone. I’m honored I got to meet you last week.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    @Liza@Blahggy, it was wonderful to meet you, too.

    Kara February 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I NEEDED to read this today — I was in tears last night coming home w/ fast food for dinner after a terrible day, only to find my hubby and kids skyping w/ gma & gpa (great, now they KNOW I’m a terrible mother, confirming their suspicions all along, I’m sure…). Your post is a gentle reassurance that it’s OK to not be “on” all of the time. And my 10 minutes out o the house solo –while I felt guilty — was the beginning of what I needed. What I also needed was more sleep.

    So Thank You for posting this so all the “bad mothers” out there know that first, we are not alone in this massive undertaking of being the best mama/wife/person we can be, but also that it’s OK to admit when we are not.

    Hoping you feel better soon, wishing you lots of rest and fully caffeinated hot beverages to get you by! Thanks again!

    Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromattherapy Essential Oils) February 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    You are very strong to be so frank about yourself on your blog. Self-awareness is the first step toward improvement. As you say in your post, forgiveness is the next step. If you can’t forgive yourself for the things you do wrong, it’s hard to move on. You just keep beating yourself up over it and in the end, that can be self-perpetuating. Thank you for writing so earnestly. So many women go through what you’re going through and it helps to read other people’s examples.

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    @Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromattherapy Essential Oils), thanks for that. I’m sometimes not sure whether it’s strong or crazy, but if it helps anyone – including myself – then it’s all good, right? Right ;)

    Becca February 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I haven’t even given birth yet and I’m already feeling like a bad mother for hating yoga class and wondering if maybe an epidural wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    I love that you wear your “bad mother” badge with humility. It seems that the mommy blogger world is full of women who are either dressed by birds and woodland creatures every morning, or “**** off, I feed my kid Lean Cuisine because low-calorie = healthy”. Awesome to find someone with balance.

    Tina C. February 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    @Becca, an epidural is definitely not the end of the world, far from it!!!!

    Her Bad Mother February 6, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    @Becca, an epidural is NOT the end of the world. I had one with my first, and it was WONDERFUL. I did not have one with my second – not by choice – and it was much less wonderful. Do your birth however YOU want.

    Becca February 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    @Her Bad Mother,

    Thanks, both of you! I’ve just encountered way too many aggressive anti-pain relief websites recently…

    LibraryGirl62 February 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Woman, please…we all have those days/weeks. Look how many amazing, healthy, thriving kids are walking around, tho! my kids survived me as a single mom for 15 years now. They ate mac and cheese for days, watered down milk when I did not have the time/money/energy to stop to get it and the fact that I gave them their own TVs so I could get some peace. We are first, however, a family and they learned that when someone is sick, even Mom, we all pitch in to help. When the sick person is better, things go back to normal…well as normal as we get :)

    Jillian February 4, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I’m writing from my own couch, just two days post sinus surgery. My mom is juggling my two small kids (1 & 3) while my husband works. My hand is hovering over the codeine bottle, as I just want to go back to sleep. But I know I *could* get up. I *am* feeling better than yesterday.

    I’m still not sure what I’m going to do, but this post is certainly timely for me.

    Her Bad Mother February 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    @Jillian, dude, you had SURGERY. you are ALLOWED to slack, TOTALLY.

    Tina C. February 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    yes, when you quit realizing that you’re not quite up to snuff is when you become a certifiable (not insane) bad mother. i just finished reading Jeannette Walls “The Glass Castle” so am feeling so much better about my mothering skills, not to start comparing myself to other mom’s, but still.

    jennyonthespot February 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    My son asked for clean undies. I told him to turn them inside-out. He said they’d been inside out for 3 days.

    My daughter (who I swear is kin to Pigpen in Peanuts) didn’t want to get in the card cuz it was so filthy.

    My son begged, “Can we PLEASE have a good dinner.”

    All of this, plus, plus plus… has been in just the last couple of weeks. And the huz sitch, etc… yes. yes…

    We are not alone… <3

    Her Bad Mother February 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    @jennyonthespot, <3

    Mrs. Wilson February 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I think that just writing this post – the thoughts that it took – proves what a GOOD and CARING and LOVING mother you are. You care so much about your children’s diet and their feelings and their little idiosyncrasies and a REAL bad mother would not give those things a second thought.

    I’m sorry you’re struggling. I wish I could just give you a big hug and stroke your hair and tell you that it’s okay and you will feel better soon.

    Orange February 4, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Seeing “BAD MOTHER” in all caps makes me flash back to seeing a woman tormenting her child in public when I was on vacation in D.C. She yelled at the kid to quit her crying, summoned her closer to be held, and then berated her still more sickeningly and soul-crushingly. What must she be like at home, away from the public eye? I just hope her children are able to grow up intact and heal from that shoddy excuse for a parent.

    Occasionally not giving a kid your full attention is pretty normal. It’s not as if you’ve left the children unattended for hours while out boozing, or failed to feed them, or screamed nasty epithets at them, or punched them. Those things would be BAD PARENTING.

    Tway February 4, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I’ve just discovered your fab blog and had to post. I do this all the time–second guess my decisions, wonder if I could have done things differently, fret about my choices… then fret about fretting about my choices. I find it hard to draw the lie in the sand between what baby needs and what I need. Especially because doing what I need once in a while is probably what baby needs, in the long run.

    Sometimes I wonder if moms in the pre-expert/Internet age worried a tenth as much as we do. And I wonder if their firm decisions and ponder-less approach to motherhood was somehow better for their kids than the consistent anxiety we seem to live with.

    Ah, well. One more thing to worry about…

    (And hope you feel better!)

    Alli Worthington February 5, 2011 at 12:02 am

    It is not what you do, but who you are, that will define their childhood.

    They are well loved, secure, bright, confident and loving.

    There is always something more, something better, something else that we ‘could’ or ‘should’ be doing. Don’t give those thoughts a foothold.

    You know my story, but I will share again. At between the ages of 2(1/2) to 3, when my Dad was killed in a car accident, I was alone with a grief stricken mother. She was in too much pain to function well, much less sign me up for anything like ballet. Despite these dark days in my childhood, it was who my mother was that defined my youth. I was loved and that love was what healed the pain. The resilience of the human heart is amazing.

    You, my sweet friend, love from a deep and generous heart. You listen to stories and feelings with understanding and compassion. You support courage, creativity and empathy.

    It is who you are… loving, encouraging, supportive, accepting, empathetic, and brave… not what you do.

    Let the house be dirty, ballet class can wait, serve frozen food with relief and know that it is temporary.

    It’s not what we do as mothers. It is who we are.

    I know you well. You are wonderful. You are enough.

    <3

    Maya February 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

    @Alli Worthington,
    You said it so well Alli – every bit true. I was going to say something to make Cath feel better … Instead I felt so much better reading what you said. So thank you :)
    XO

    Alli Worthington February 5, 2011 at 12:58 am

    @Maya, I loves ya, Woman.

    Lara February 5, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Reading through this, I felt this wave of love for all you moms out there. I have 2 sons, 6 and 3, and am 9 weeks pregnant with #3. Barely functioning, I’m so fatigued this time around. When I read about all your struggles, so much like mine, and how we hassle ourselves, I just *felt* how much we all love our children and how deeply we want and try to be the best moms we can. I have so much respect for all of you!

    What has helped me: (1) What you mentioned in the post, that it’s a good thing to worry about being a good mom because it’s an encouraging sign that I haven’t turned into a selfish prick (so to speak) or a sociopath; and (2) “Good mom” now means to me “I do what I can each day, and it’s going to vary wildly from day to day!” What a load off.

    Andrea February 5, 2011 at 1:55 am

    @Lara, I am right there with you feeling love for all The moms out there. ALL of us deserve that extra love.

    Ah, HBM, you are not a bad mama. I so know how this happens, so know how it works. And it can suck. Royally. But it is okay. We all have These kinds of moments. These types of days, we all know. Thanks for Sharing. You and everyone who has commented.

    dana parker February 5, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Been there and won the award for “most guilt ridden parent due to sickness beyond my control” at least five times.:) It’s all part of the life lesson we must learn…I just heard a fantastic speaker, Brene’ Brown, talk about shame. She made good sense :) Thanks for your work at Blissdom. This too shall pass.

    Mich February 5, 2011 at 1:37 am

    At least you have a husband/partner who can help. Imagine being a single parent. Welcome to my world.

    Amanda February 5, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Bad Mother you are not (well, okay, you are *the* baddest mother out there, in a good way though). Truly the most important thing we do as mothers is love our children, and that you do very well.

    Being sick and taking care of children sucks. Big time. Feel better soon. And please don’t beat yourself up. Let your children love you. Let them learn that it’s okay to lie on the couch and take care of yourself.

    Rachel February 5, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Good grief this is soo ridiculously how I am ‘mothering’ at the moment. Thanks so much for your beautifully written posts, you help me remember that I am actually not a bad mother. BTW I mentioned your awesomeness in my latest post…
    http://lifes-a-bach.blogspot.com/2011/02/parenting-patterns.html

    Her Bad Mother February 5, 2011 at 9:43 am

    @Rachel, aw, thanks. Going to read it now!

    Carissa February 5, 2011 at 3:01 am

    didn’t you get the memo? moms aren’t allowed to get sick.

    that’s why the kiddos can’t understand.. it’s like a cosmic break in the world if mom is sick!

    I send hugs your way.

    PS. hubs says he has to go to Toronto in like August or something. Drat.

    Her Bad Mother February 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    @Carissa, August, BOO.

    (I’ll take those hugs, though, even if they’re virtual ;) )

    MamaRobinJ February 6, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I know that feeling. And I only have one kid, and he’s younger than your oldest. But when he says, “Mama, will you play with me?” I think, “Why don’t I jump at the chance to do that? He will only be this small for a not-very-long time.” But some days I don’t want to. Can’t.

    I wrote my own “bad mother” post this week, and it’s so nice to read things like this and know I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way. And it’s a good reminder to be mindful and also to remember the bigger picture.

    Her Bad Mother February 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    @MamaRobinJ, post a link here! would love to read it :)

    MamaRobinJ February 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm
    Dana Udall-Weiner February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Definitely relate to the tension of wanting to be aware of my actions and motives–to be sure that I am self-reflective–but not to the extent that I berate myself or embody motherhood that is based on someone else’s notion of “good.”
    Just about everybody I know has been sick this week, including me. And you and I live in different countries, for Heaven’s sake, so this one is one bad-ass, virulent bug.

    Her Bad Mother February 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    @Dana Udall-Weiner, it’s a balance, for sure. (and yes, SUPER BUG. APOCALYPSE.)

    Nadia February 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, sometimes its as if you read my mind and type it out for the world to see. We came back from a trip 2 weeks ago, suitcases are still unpacked, I haven’t been able to keep up with the laundry. Food? What food? We’ve been living off of soup and perogies because that is all the kids will eat since being sick/getting over their flu.

    I feel like crap with this morning sickness (who the hell are they kidding its all day sickness) and feel like cooking as much as I feel like running a marathon.

    My 2 year old daughter has a screaming marathon every night for the last 2 weeks because she wants to sleep with us/hold my hand all night from 9 p.m. and on (as in can’t let go until 7 am the next morning). Every. Night. For. The. Last. TWO. Weeks. It doesn’t leave me warm and fuzzy inside, lets just put it that way.

    “Bad Mother” is the term that has been swirling around in my head every hour of every day.

    Amanda February 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    We all sit ’round this extinguished campfire and yet we always feel so lonely. Cruel fate.

    Wishing we could go all Trekkie and transport to one another’s homes when we have a little extra, just to help cajole a bit of milk down someone’s wee gullet or to find the remote.

    xo

    Karen L February 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I’m feeling this way about being a bad employee these days. I seem to be managing at home with 2 kids and being 16 weeks pregnant (mainly because I can don selective vision glasses when it comes to piles of laundry and stacks of clutter) but I’m just not cutting it at work. I’m just barely getting through the day and rather demoralised about it. I used to be passionate about my work. And now I’m not. And the worst part is, I know that I was a better employee before I was a mother. Please don’t revoke my feminist card. The past couple of months have been especially bad because of morning (all-day) sickness but it’s not just the past coupld of months. Before I had kids, I was much more dedicated and diligent. And knowing how good I was before and how crappy I am now … shitty, shitty feeling every single day.

    Lindsay February 8, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I seriously didn’t think other moms laid on the couch for a week at a time. I did it last week every morning until nap time. I have never heard my friends say they did this! I am 8 months pregnant with a toddler and a 6 year old and I was just sore, probably depressed and tired. I feel better this week, I’m sorry it is a bad week for you, but thank you for sharing and making me feel like I’m not alone in this. My kids eat frozen pizza all the time :)

    Nicole Drysdale February 8, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Um…are you in my brain? Seriously…this post is witty and RIGHT on!

    Joseph @ Apple Ipod Discount February 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

    As a mother we always feel bad. I have been having one of
    those days. Almost 24 hours working,feel guilty not attending my kids needs. But i know for sure my kids understand that i need to work.
    Thanks for sharing your insights. I keep coming back to your site. :)

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