Good Mom vs Bad Mom. When We Feel Conflicted.

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London Town. That's where I should be right now. But I'm not, I'm in NY. Nothing wrong with that, as New York is my favorite city in the world and its also my home. The problem is that it's not where I should be right now. I should be in London.

My Personal posts are usually about a conviction, a revelation or an advice. About people I love and things dear to my heart. But this one is about a struggle. On this post I have no answers really; on this post I have questions, thoughts, and conflicts... But hey, Im a real person too. And I've obviously  caught the writing bug recently, so I guess I'll share some thoughts. 

This new season as a mom has been incredible. For those of you who don't know, the little blonde, curly haired angel I often post photos of is my son, my only child. My pride and joy, my everything. And he also drives me crazy. Sometimes I want to lock him in the closet and put earmuffs on. Of course I don't do that, I just said that to add to the shock factor and make you gasp and instantly think 'Oh my gosh! How could she even say that?!' The answer is simple: because I love shocking people with reality and honesty so that they don't need to live their lives thinking they're alone. Even if I get a little backlash for it... I can handle it... Im not worried about all of the better-than-thou, self-righteous, know-better you's. All y'all can just take your concerns to the nearest blog or social media outlet made available to you. Im concerned with those beating themselves up because nobody has ever told them they are not alone. 

Well, I have never locked Zion in a closet and put earmuffs on- yet- but let me tell you what I HAVE done though, which will probably SHOCK you- specially those of you with no children, and those of you mythical 'good moms' who seem to obviously have it all figured out. I have, more than once, brought my hands to my face and thought 'What have I done!' as I either pace around in despair or stand there paralyzed at the thought that I will, indeed, have to deal with "this" for the rest of my life. Yea- I said it. Judge me. But do remember me when you find yourself doing the same. 

 Being a mother brings out stuff you never knew you had inside of you. An ability to love that you never thought possible before, a level of selfishlessness you had never experienced before, a grade of sleeplessness you never thought one could survive before. But we love it and wouldn't trade it for the world. We would change everything about it but yet, change nothing at all. What does that even mean? I'm not really sure, but that's how I feel.

I'm sure the majority of moms share the sentiment, even though many would be too afraid to admit it and end up sounding like a 'bad mom'. So here you go. I'm saying it first so that you can understand that you, dear friend, are not alone; and feeling like that from time to time doesn't make you a bad mom.

What makes someone a bad mom? More importantly, what makes someone a GOOD MOM? I recently read this by Aylet Waldman, and got an honest kick out of it.

When I polled an unscientific sampling of my friends and family, they had no trouble defining what it meant to be a good father. A good father is characterized quite simply by his presence. He shows up. In the delivery room, at dinnertime (when he can), to school recitals and ball games (whenever it's reasonably possible). He's a good provider who is not above changing a diaper or wearing a Baby Bjorn. He's a strong shoulder to cry on and, at the same time, a constant example of how to roll with the punches. This definition seems to accommodate, without contradiction, both an older, sentimentalized Father Knows Best version of a dad and our post-Free to Be You and Me assumptions. However, my polling sample had a difficult time describing a good mother without resorting to hyperbole, beneath which it's possible to discern a hint of angry self-flagellation. 

"Mary Poppins, but biologically related to you and she doesn't leave at the end of the movie." 
"She lives only in the present and entirely for her kids." 
"She has infinite patience."
"She remembers to serve fruit at breakfast, is always cheerful and never yells, manages not to project her own neuroses and inadequacies onto her children, is an active and beloved community volunteer; she remembers to make playdates, her children's clothes fit, and she does art projects with them and enjoys all their games. And she is never too tired for sex." 

She's everything that I'm not.

These responses might be colored by the fact that my polling sample, despite containing a moderate amount of racial, religious, and socioeconomic diversity, was composed of women of approximately the same age (mid-thirties to early forties) and the same level of education (which can be described, succinctly, as "more than they use"). Nonetheless, the common elements in the responses make a compelling statement both about the pervasive power of the antiquated June Cleaver vision of motherhood and about how badly we fall short. 

 

So wait. If the single defining characteristic of iconic good motherhood is self-abnegation, her child's needs come first and their health and happiness are her primary concern. They occupy all her thoughts, her day is constructed around them, and anything and everything she does is for their sakes. Her own needs, ambitions, and desires are relevant ONLY when in relation to theirs. If a good mother takes care of herself, it is only to the extent that she doesn't hurt her children. A good mom MUST be able to figure out how to find time for herself, but only if its without detriment to her child's feelings of self-worth. 

How is any of that even achievable?! Lets just talk about how this piece of writing is about to be posted in just a bit, at about 7:55 am, and you KNOW it didn't just take me a couple of minutes to write this. But that is when a good mother does her own thing, right? After her baby goes to sleep and before he wakes up. Because when he wakes up its his time, until, of course, I have to go work. And then when I get done its their time again. And then I will write you more posts at 5am tomorrow... Oh, the unreasonable pressures of life.

Being a good father is a reasonable and attainable goal. You show up, you support, you're physically there (when you can), you provide. I think I'm a MUCH better father than I am a mother... 

Its been the best season but its also been a difficult season. As I said, I should be in London right now.

Shot by Hannah Burton