There’s a trend on the mommy blogs right now—full of mea culpas, some of them tongue in cheek, and some not so much. People are holding up examples of their own poor parenting and laughing about it.
Being a mom is hard, and every mom makes tons of mistakes, but starting a blog by saying “I’m pretty open about the fact that I’m not a good parent”? Sad. Maybe the bar was too high before, when every mom was held to some insane June Cleaver standard. But I’m not sure that wearing our bad mommy moments like badges of honor is the way to go either.
Dana said “But look at those blogs. They have thousands of followers. And there are hundreds of comments after the self-deprecating posts. It must resonate with women on some level.”
It’s true. It must resonate.
Here’s my question: What part of them is it resonating with and are we sure we want to cultivate that part?
Glennon, at Momastery wrote this type of post recently. Hers was tongue in cheek. But the comment section was disturbing and telling. From the woman who mopped her floor for the first time in a year—and only because she spilled coffee on it—to the woman who dressed up like she was going to work, dropped her kids off at school, went home, changed, slept for two more hours, went to the movies, put her work clothes back on and picked her kids up five minutes before daycare closed. The comments were full of story after story—not tongue in cheek—that made me cringe. Not necessarily what the women were saying, but how they were saying it: proudly, and cyber high fiving each other.
Then this comment: “I think mommy guilt should be a thing of the past”.
Ahhh. So that’s what’s going on here.
I agree with this statement. Not the way she meant it, that we should not ever feel guilty for the things we do. Guilt is a useful emotion. It reminds us when we have let ourselves and our own values down. If we feel guilt over something that we did, it’s probably for good reason.
But we need a way to reconcile that guilt. In my Catholic faith, we have Reconciliation—we confess our short comings and ask God for forgiveness. I don’t have a ton of mommy guilt in my life. Not because I don’t make mistakes. Of course I make mistakes. And not because I don’t feel guilt—I do. But I reconcile that guilt and then ask God and myself for forgiveness.
The thing that helps the most is this: since I was very young, I have heard my parents describe life like a baseball game. A long game, with extra innings. Lots of at bats. Sometimes we bunt, sometimes we hit a grand slam. And sometimes we drop the ball or strike out. It’s all part of the game.
Parenting is just like that.
The voice inside my head tells me this: “I get it right and sometimes make mistakes”. I had a friend with tremendous mommy guilt who told me that she just couldn’t think like this. She believed that she made mistakes and sometimes got it right. She needed to give herself permission to make mistakes, to not be perfect.
I don’t get it.
First, who’s asking for perfect? No one. But of all the jobs we do, isn’t parenting the one that deserves our very best effort?
And why, why, why would you ever tell yourself you are a screw-up most of the time? Doesn’t that self script just devolve from “I am not capable today” to “I am not capable this week” to “I am not capable”?
We aren’t playing that game here. Our whole lives, Dana and I have reached for excellence—in school, in sports, in marriage, at work and as moms. We take pride in the fact that we mostly got it going on. We will always assume that you mostly got it going on, too. We’re not saying that we’re perfect moms, or that we don’t feel guilt. We’re not and we do.
We’re just saying this: Let’s stop holding up examples of bad motherhood for entertainment. This job we do is important and we need to treat it that way.
Let’s focus on the mostly. Let’s talk about what’s right and good and loving and strong. Let’s celebrate the wins.
As for the rest, reconcile and forgive, baby.
Because it’s almost time for the next inning.