Rotten and Lousy

Today I went to the park with one of my oldest and dearest friends and our children. All three of my kids were rotten. 6yr old was whiney and disobedient, 4 yr. old threw about 10 full-blown tantrums and 2 yr. old kept hitting other kids who dared touch the fake steering wheel on the playground.
We've been to the park with this friend and her little boy several times and every previous time my kids were actually very well behaved. Plus this friend of mine knows me better than almost anyone else. She's seen every possible side of me - the good, bad and the ugly. She knows every one of my imperfections, and yet, she loves me. I know all of that (I also know that she has a little boy who even though I've only seen him be darling I would bet has had his rotten moments) so why did I feel the need to say things like, "Um, they were all up really late last night." and "I promise she doesn't usually throw this many tantrums." or "It is soooo past his nap time. " We've been to the park several times with her and my kids were well behaved on every other occasion.
Why did the fact that my friend saw my kids be rotten threaten me so much? Because I was afraid she would think I'm a lousy mom. I am in some respects, but in other ways I'm a fabulous mom. Aren't we all varying combinations of lousy and fabulous? So why do many of us go around looking over our shoulder, afraid that at any moment someone will find us out? Also, obviously there is a strong link between a child's behavior and his/her parents, but do I have to take the blame for every tantrum?
For the record, logically I know my friend well enough to know she was not judging me or my kids, but she knows me well enough to tell you that logic is not always the first thing I consult.
In conclusion, it's not okay to accept our lousiness and then do nothing about it. It is okay to acknowledge it and try really hard to change it. And, it is okay (and high time) to quit caring how other people perceive my mothering abilities. I'm determined to liberate myself from this prison of perceived parental perfection. The first step is acknowledgement, therefore, I officially declare (in a poorly structured run-on sentence) that SOMETIMES I'M A LOUSY MOM AND SOMETIMES MY KIDS ARE ROTTEN AND SOMETIMES IT'S MY FAULT AND SOMETIMES IT ISN'T!


Blogger Kristine said...

Andrea, I want your last two lines printed on a t-shirt! I think the correlation between maternal (parental) skill and children's behavior is far more tenuous than most people believe. I know fabulous moms with really difficult kids, and I know mediocre moms with little angels. My kids are, I think, tougher than average, and I'm about an average mom, but (on good days, at least) I'm not convinced that my kids would behave all that differently if they had a perfect mom.
The only possible solution is more charity--for ourselves, our children, and other moms and their children. Easier said than done!

8/04/2005 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Great comments Kristine! Before I had children, anytime I saw kids acting up I automatically assumed the mom was too strict or too leniant or too something. I now really regret unfairly judging and I'm sure my current paranoia is part of my penance.

8/04/2005 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

Amen sister, if I may say so. My son is, as kristine so nicely put it, tougher than average. Most times I tell myself that it's who he is and he'd be that way no matter who his mom is (Kristine's sentiment) but I also find myself doubting my mom abilities and comparing him to the (more well-behaved) kids around us - and therefore comparing myself to the other moms. And most of the time I'm doing it because I figure it's what they are doing. Logically, I know I'm a pretty good mom, but emotionally, it's tough to watch your kid misbehaving and watch other people watch your kid misbehaving without feeling personally responsible for every second of it.

8/04/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...

I want a t-shirt too! *chuckle* I think we all have days like that.

8/04/2005 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Oh, Andrea, I think you are way too hard on yourself. I think instead of "accepting our lousiness" we should say, "I'm having a tough day and I'm doing the best I can today."

Nobody can be saints all the time, nobody. I struggle all the time judging myself based on what my kids do (and my kids are in their twenties:). We are only human, we can only do so much. It is really really hard to be a mom.

Go easy. And get lousy out of your vocabulary.

8/05/2005 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Marian, you last sentence beautifully summed up what I was trying to say! It's good to know I'm not alone in feeling that way.

Lisa, I'll let you know when those T-shirts will be available in your area :)

Anne, thanks for your kindness. Perhaps I should use a little bit softer wording, but I think we're essentially saying the same thing. I just feel like my desire for perfection is really getting in my way of any real progress. In other words, when I feel ashamed of my inadequacies as a mother, I want to hide it which is not productive. If I can admit and accept those inadequacies, maybe then I can start chipping away at them with a LOT of divine intercession.

8/05/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

My SIL said this week that when she has kids, she won't tolerate tantrum behavior. If they can't behave, she will remove them from the situation until they are calm. Well, that's all well and good, unless you are trying to cook dinner, your child hasn't had a nap and has subsisted on soggy goldfish crackers for the last 4 hours, and you are trying to talk on the phone while you stir the rapidly burning dinner on the stove.

Sometimes kids just lose it, and there's not much a mom can do, other than put in earplugs and bang her head rythmically against the wall.

8/08/2005 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan Bell said...

Are we entirely sure the need to explain and justify and apologize for our kids' bad behavior is all about hoping people don't judge our own skill as parents? I know that's a part of it, but it feels like there's other stuff at work too. Not sure what the other stuff is, but I don't feel like for me it's just about wanting people to think I'm a good dad.

I think for me, it's that I love these kids so darn much, and I think they're the greatest kids in the world, and how very disappointing when other people don't get the chance to see that. I try very hard never to apologize or explain their behavior away, but after such an episode, I do leave disappointed, because everyone should know what wonderful kids I have, and that poor person who witnessed that tantrum was denied that marvelous opportunity. Or something like that.


8/08/2005 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Ryan, you're absolutely right. I think that is a big part of it, but even at that I feel responsible for it, which only adds to the pressure and feelings of inadequacy.

8/09/2005 01:04:00 AM  
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10/08/2005 12:27:00 PM  

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