Who’s bad?

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When I first started writing this blog, I struggled with the name Bad Parenting Moments. Not because I don’t believe that every parent who has ever felt the overwhelming and beautiful responsibility when first holding their child has never made a bad parenting decision or had a bad parenting moment, but, because I struggled with embracing the honesty of my own bad parenting moments. The fear I felt was palpable. I was branding myself a maker of mistakes, a loser of patience, a frequent wisher for early bedtimes and an imperfect parent struggling for balance and joy inside of my often difficult role as a mother. Would I be able to walk the walk of unflattering honesty? Would I be able to talk candidly about my failures, knowing the backlash would be swift and often? Would I be able to embrace my flaws? Would you? I was terrified.

Would honesty be freeing or would it become its own trap? Would speaking my truth become as heavy as the weight already shackled to my body, as big and as dark as the never discussed feeling in my soul and in the souls of all mothers; that there is something wrong with me if I am not in love with parenting every day and in every moment. That I am a failure if I am unhappy or sad or lose myself fully. If, at times, I have packed a bag in my mind while cutting crusts off of sandwiches or wiping away tears. That I don’t deserve my children if I say I need time and space and movement to replenish my core. That I don’t know what having it all means. That I am confused and often lonely. That I love my children so deeply that the mistakes I make, even the small, insignificant ones they do not notice, are worn like scarlett letters across my chest.

I decided I needed to live in my own truth. Pretending the picturesque shots in my sunny backyard were the entire picture weren’t doing me or my loved ones any favors. Perpetuating the myth that we were always smiling only made my failures more pronounced in my own mind. I finally admitted that even when I believed in pretending, it had never convinced me that everything was perfect. Because nothing is ever perfect.

I took a deep breath and jumped. Inside my truth, the strangest thing happened. That terrifying honesty became so freeing as mothers, young and old, in all stages of parenthood, were already waiting there to embrace and commiserate and laugh. We were the deep well of community that replenished each other. And then, I became a better mother.

I allowed myself to fail. Embracing my mistakes has made me a less fearful parent. A more patient parent. A more loving parent. A more present parent. Acknowledging that my best did not have to be match another mother’s standard of excellence, that we all functioned and succeeded and failed uniquely, as uniquely as every child we love and care for, is a beautiful thing.

I allowed myself to cut me some slack and more importanly, to respect the journey of other mothers. To laugh when I fell short instead of retreating into shame. To try and then try and then try again without the fear of failure, but, with a healthy respect for what it teaches. To look at Motherhood as a community of women sharing an experience but, never a path.

On my path, I am some days clearing the debris of personal storms out of my way. I can be found walking slowly and inhaling deeply. I can be found carrying children over uneven terrain or sideways under my arm. I can usually be found laughing.

I imagine the paths of other mothers and sometimes, I make the mistake of comparing the landscape. I wonder why nothing but dandelions grow on mine when I run across her tulips. I look at the curves wondering if her path is easier to walk.

I must always remind myself that the individual path of Motherhood is never easy to walk. The journey is long. The path is often rocky. The love is so deep that we continue to walk it with no end in sight and with no knowledge of what lay just around the next bend.

I can not begin to know the path of another mother just as I fully do not know my own. But, I do know that each path leads to a home where refrigerator art once hung sideways and fingerprints still decorate doorways and where love is given so freely that the mistakes made are as useless fretting over as is the guilt that you are failing them. You are not.

So, whatever your honesty, be it “bad” or “good”, when your path leads you up the walk, to your doorstep and into the rooms of your children at night, their voices, the only voices that really matter, tell you they love you.





Comments

  1. Carrie McKnight says:

    I just loved this. Every. Bit. Thank you.

  2. Well said! I appreciate reading about people’s “bad parenting moments” AS WELL as the best moments. The blogs and FB pages that ONLY post their perfect moments feel so fake to me. We are all human, we all learn from mistakes and I feel like if I lose my temper, than that is a teachable moment for my kids: When Mommy’s about to lose her mind, BACK OFF and calm down. Besides, when it’s done with YOUR sense of humor, it’s just too funny!

    • Bethany says:

      I agree. I love the sweet and sour of parenthood. The highs and lows are so much more palatable in some sort of laughable balance, right? And, we can only be who we are. The good. The bad. The sometimes ugly. Thank you for accepting me for me and for LAUGHING. Laughing is the best.

  3. Said so well! I especially liked the part about dandelions and tulips–felt that quite recently in my own life. You’re doing an awesome job, mama! Thank you for sharing the real!

  4. That we all functioned and succeeded and failed uniquely – love this line. So applicable to motherhood and to everything else. Thank you for this, for this reminder not to compare, to laugh when we misstep and to always, always, remember the LOVE. You rock it, BPM. You really do!

    • Bethany says:

      We’re all rocking it in our own way, right? You with some killer leg warmers and some capezio and me with a coors light in a can cheering your dancing bum on. xo

  5. You’re bad. Bad ass.

  6. Kathy at kissing the frog says:

    I’m going to be that commenter who simply says, “I loved this post!” Because I really, really did. 🙂

  7. Brava, momma.

  8. Oh, honey. Love.

  9. What a gorgeous piece of writing. Loved every word.

  10. And…as I have said before…reading this and seeing that other moms are not perfect either makes ME a better mom! You (and the others and the commenters) make my daily life easier. Period. I loved this, just like I love all the stuff you write!
    My bookmark tab is getting full….. Love ya mama! <3 Devan

    • Bethany says:

      Devan, you are one of the moms I was specifically thinking of when I wrote this post. My “well”. The women who have been so loving, supportive and real from the very beginning. You make it so easy to jump because I know I always have a soft place to land…with margaritas. xo

  11. Beautiful!! I love that you pointed out we all walk different paths through Motherhood. Everyone has bad moments and good moments – honest motherhood is embracing them all.

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you, Lisa. Embracing the whole enchilada…with spicy sauce has made this parenting road so much more tasty. Thanks for being here.

  12. YES. I love that you took a chance and dove into this head first. The name is definitely the first thing people see, but when they read your words, they KNOW you’re legit. You’re a good mother who sometimes loses her shizz and admits it. I can’t get enough of you because of your courage and honesty. I know there are “trolls” out there who have been writing hateful things about parents who “hate parenting,” but they just don’t get it. They’re not owning their truth like you are. I tip my hat to you m’lady.

  13. Why do we think we need to hide the truth? The truth is what sets us free to be better parents. Sometimes this gig sucks eggs, even more if we think we are doing it alone. I love your honesty, I love your style, and I love your heart. I bow down to your ability to so eloquently put into words what I am thinking. xoxo

    • Bethany says:

      Amen, sister. Especially the sucking eggs part. I sometimes like eggs. Sometimes, not so much. I do always love deviled eggs and I bet you make a MEAN batch of deviled eggs. Long story longer, thanks for being a part of my well from the very, very beginning.

  14. Thank you. I needed to hear this today of all days. I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself because my oldest is on his DC trip. Without me. (If I had left him flailing in catholic school I would have been able to go with him.), and this morning I had a major parenting fail. My 12 year old asked me a few weeks ago if I could teach her to shave. I was thinking wow, I think it’s kind of early for shaving your legs. But, ya, sometime we can do that. Then today I realized she has been wearing long pants to school all the time and wondering why. On the way to school on yet another 80 degree day, she was wearing pants. And I finally asked her why and she said she just didn’t want people to see her legs. I was like, why not. There is nothing wrong with your legs. She says she doesn’t want anyone to see them because they are hairy and she thinks they look bad. (In my defense she has blonde hair so no one can actually see the hair) I feel horrible that I didn’t realize this on my own. What was I thinking? She always loved wearing shorts before. I am so stupid. It is hard enough to be a preteen girl. Then I go and ignore a simple request that could have made her feel so much better about herself. I really hate myself right now.

    • Bethany says:

      Sometimes, all we need is an ear and an, “I’ve been there.” Sister, I’ve been there. Don’t hate yourself. You are loved. You are imperfect, but, perfect for them. It’s a beautiful thing. Hang tough and when you’re not tough, I’ll be there to make you feel better with my daily, miserable failures. xo

    • Melissa says:

      Do not hate yourself. You could have been the mother, who back in the seventies, told her preteen daughter who also asked for help in learning to shave, “Too bad, you’re too young. When I was your age, the hair was curling up over the top of my socks, and all my friends made fun of me, but MY MOTHER wouldn’t let ME shave, so you can’t either.” Still smarting from that, 37 years later, I was determined not to let the same thing happen to my daughter. But when she asked, just a few weeks ago, I procrastinated. She was too young, right? She doesn’t need to shave ALREADY, right? Well, she did, so I showed her how to do it with an electric razor and she’s ok now, feeling very grown up and empowered, and possibly already bummed that she has this lifelong chore ahead of her. I think I’ve redeemed myself.
      So the difference is, you and I didn’t wait TOO long, just a couple of weeks. We realized our mistake, apologized, and made it right (right?). Not long enough to scar anybody for life. The lessons learned from one generation of bad parenting moments to the next….

  15. You rock my socks. I love this. My neighbor always reminds me, “Do not judge your insides by other people’s outsides.”
    Thank you for this.

  16. So beautifully said.

  17. This is beautiful. I agree that honesty about parenting is incredibly important. How are we all going to survive this whole being-a-mom thing if we’re not honest with each other about how hard it can be? There are a lot of great parenting blogs out there, but yours is absolutely one of my favorites. Thanks for keepin’ it real.

    • Bethany says:

      I think survive is the perfect word because it means it’s a task we need to ready ourselves for. That we have to be tough and true. I think it’s perfect to view parenthood as a calling or momentous task…like climbing Everest. We will be red faced, wrinkled, maybe missing some digits, but, we’ll look back on it as the best thing we EVER did. But, it’s tough and, that’s ok. Thank you for being here and for your lovely compliment. I might just now be able to climb tonight’s Everest on my ego cloud. xo

  18. Thank you for saying this!

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you for reading it and taking something from it. That’s the best compliment a writer gets.

  19. This was perfectly timed. I spent this morning snapping at Anna in the grocery store – snapping when she kept climbing on the side of the cart, when she did an extended eeny-meeny-miney-moe just to pick a lemon, and when just now I allowed her to earn back her dessert by making me an ice cream sundae. Today my effort might be mediocre but my love is unflagging.

    • Bethany says:

      Love is always the common denominator, right? That thing that gets us up before dawn and in the middle of the night. It’s the constant. Everything else is the gravy. Sometimes the gravy is delicious. Sometimes it’s cold, but, the potatoes are always there.

  20. I remember coming across your blog and LOVING the name Bad Parenting Moments. I thought, YES! These are my people! And I was so right. Thanks for making me feel normal when all I want to do is pack a bag and leave skidmarks in the driveway.

    • Bethany says:

      If picking this name was the first step to being your people, then it was a righteous first step. I’ll cover up your skidmarks…that’s what friends do. The map to Cabo is in the tequila bottle. See you there.

  21. Love this. Love YOU! I’ve been having so many “bad” moments lately as the terrible 3s are coming, and I just want to lose my shit a lot of days. But you’re always do good at reminding me I’m not alone on this merry-go-round, and to appreciate the good moments all the more. Thank you for helping me become a better mom too! Love to you and your clan!

  22. I’m am so guilty of only noticing the tulips on other mother’s paths. I can’t see the stones they might stub their toes on, only the ones I’m constantly kicking. And I often don’t see my very own tulips. Thanks for the reminder. I think that girls and women tend to look around and compare, measure up. Whether it’s dress size, the right hair or boyfriend, the nice house or perfect family, it’s all the same: we only see what other people let us see. Everyone has dandelions.

  23. wonderfully said!

  24. Really loved this one! Beautifully written.

  25. I love the picture of your truth. Thanks for making it more real for all of us, and please know how much you are blessing others as you do. xo, my friend.

  26. Amanda Bombard says:

    YES!!!!

    First time reading your blog. Fan for life!! Ive had moms and friends, even strangers give me that “look” i cant tell if they’re disgusted, impressed, or disgusted because they’re impressed. Whatever the case they see it and say “i wish i could be more relaxed… but…”

    But. Nothing. Enjoy your kids ladies! Laugh at you r mistakes. Because the sun will always come up tomorrow, but *you’re* tomorrow is not certain. Don’t waste another second beating yourself up, stressing, or guilting yourselves.

  27. Such a great post! ‘Nothing is ever perfect’ pretty much sums up parenthood. I couldn’t get through it (or life, really) without humor. Plus it would be so boring if there were no flaws. 😉

  28. Having hit a rough patch and in need of some humor, I clicked on this post in my reader, expecting to see some Michael Jackson reference. Instead, I was greeted with honesty and encouragement when I needed it most. Thank you for your insightful words. Lately, I’ve certainly been guilty of drooling over other’s tulips…wait, that doesn’t sound right. I’ve been guilty of comparing myself to others, not just in parenting, but everything. It never does any good, does it?

  29. Oh wow, I can’t tell you how much I love this. You know I’ve struggled with this exact thing and to see it written so perfectly just makes me feel that much better and that much less alone. Gorgeous, lady.

  30. This post was so beautifully written and inspiring. You are absolutely right on point in everything you touch upon and I loved all of your analogies! Thank you for writing this and being so open about our individual journeys through Motherhood! You had me in tears by the end! Tears in a GOOD way! 🙂 SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!

  31. Desiree says:

    I started reading your blog because of the title. It said to me this mother is honest and not going to sugar coat the bad stuff . I feel mothers are so hard on themselves and others. I wish it will stop! My husband has no guilt and I am so jealous of him! He said its all in my head and I need to give myself a break. And bloggers like you help us Moms know its OK to mess up.

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