Bad mom or bad moment?

I’d guess that ever since Eve, moms have been questioning themselves and feeling like bad mothers when things go awry.  My daughter was less than a couple of days old before I felt like a bad mom.  It was so intense that my husband even suggested I talk with my own mother about whether it got better.  My baby was crying all the time and nothing I did seemed to help.  I cried.  She cried.  We saw a different pediatrician when ours was out who further laid the blame on me.  I climbed into the backseat with my baby on the way home and cried some more.  It was awful feeling so much love and so much helplessness.  I felt like the world’s worst mom and I had barely even been a mom.

The end of the first week my husband figured out the problem.  The kiddo didn’t know what to do with her tongue to suck milk effectively.  She was constantly hungry as a result.  Once we knew the problem and were able to work on it by having me exclusively pump and then negotiate the bottle just so in her mouth, things got a lot better.  I didn’t immediately feel like a great mom.  I did at least feel better that my baby was happier.

Every mom has a different story, but we’ve all had those moments where we feel just awful.  I’ve had many more moments since then like when my baby rolled off my bed, found a pair of scissors to play with, skinned her knee to pieces when she fell WHILE I was holding her hand and so much more.  I have often said to my husband, “I”m such a bad mom,” and then lurched into a story about why.

Yesterday, though, a friend shared a quote on Pinterest that stopped me in my tracks a minute and got me thinking.  It’s from “Unglued” by Lysa Terkeurst: “Bad moments don’t make bad mamas.”  I like that way of thinking.  Aside from needing to cut myself some slack (I have a lifetime of practice of being too hard on myself), I also need to change my way of thinking.  Instead of thinking, “I’m such a bad mom for losing my patience with her when she wanted to play,” I need to think, “That was a bad moment.”  And then assess how I can fix it the next time that situation arises.  We all have bad moments whether it’s in parenthood, at work, at home, wherever.  They just happen.  Life is far from perfect all the time.  Life is far from happy all the time.  But, bad moments really don’t make us bad people.

I suppose bad mothers exist, but the majority of us are doing the best with what we have.  I know that my own mom wasn’t perfect, but she was perfect for me.  I have to believe the same is true for my children.  I’m not a perfect person.  I’m not a perfect mother.  We’re going to have bad moments.  But, I’m not a bad mother.  Bad mothers don’t try.  They don’t care.  I try very much and care about being a mom above almost everything else.  I’m hopeful that one day my children will be able to look back and know that I did my very best for them and, above all, loved them unconditionally with my whole heart.

And one of these days, I hope we can sit around together and laugh at some of the bad moments.  Sometimes in hindsight things are much more humorous than they feel at the time they happen.  I still haven’t been able to always employ a college professor’s theory of, “If you’re going to laugh at it later, you might as well laugh at it now.”  But, I do see humor in some things now that weren’t one bit funny at the time they happened.  Maybe one day I’ll sit and joke with my daughter about how she had to figure out eating from the start.  Or maybe we’ll joke about the time she rolled off the bed and survived to tell the tale.  I’m guessing, though, that there are lots more bad moments that will happen between now and her adulthood that we’ll have to joke about.  That’s a part of life, I suppose.  And it will be all right.  We’ll survive together.  As long as I keep trying and keep loving her (and soon her brother), I’m pretty sure I can’t go all that wrong.

 

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