I have a secret to admit… I enjoy it when other moms mess up. I love seeing or hearing about irresponsible mothers, because then I can sit back and say, “So maybe I let my daughter eat a cotton candy for breakfast, at least I’m not as bad as that lady.” I don’t like the moms that actually harm their children, don’t get me wrong. But watching someone else deal with a screaming toddler in the middle of Target, I feel a small sense of accomplishment that my child is just playing with the bribe I’ll be paying for at check out.
What prompted this admission? This morning, I was in a rush. I actually put on makeup, which I haven’t done all week. Since I wasted time with mascara, my daughter’s pigtails were completely crooked and I couldn’t find anything quick and easy that she would eat for breakfast. So Brenna went to the sitters looking a little disheveled and whining that she was hungry. At this point, I’m feeling like a terrible mother and a bad person for unloading this on my daycare provider.
Then, like a chaotic and frustrated angel, another mom walks in. This woman is a teacher and here in Indiana, teachers have their first official day back in the classroom. So this mother, coming back from a summer off, is even more frazzeled than I am. Her child hasn’t had breakfast and isn’t even dressed. She brought her child in their pajamas and told the sitter that the clothes were in the backpack. Hallelujah! I have been saved. I am officially not the least responsible woman in the room and I feel infinitely better.
Driving to work, I started to feel guilty for rejoicing in that mother’s obviously horrible morning. And then I realized; guilt is what gets me into these situations to begin with. I know it’s been said over and over again, but no one understands guilt like a mother. I realize this is one of those annoying comments that make people without children hate us. It’s a poor me, you’ve never had it so bad, you can’t possibly understand because you haven’t popped a baby out yet, annoying comment. I get that. And I still think it’s true. Motherhood makes me responsible for another human being. And everywhere I turn is someone telling me how to raise them.
If I go to a parenting website right now, I find articles like “8 Discipline Mistakes Parents Make” and “7 Snacks that Teach.” I’m not joking, they are on Parenting.com right now. And they might as well add “6 Ways You Could Ruin Your Child’s Life” “5 Tips to Start Saving for Therapy Bills” and “4 Signs You’re Raising a High School Dropout”. Because all of that wonderful parenting advice just makes me feel completely inept. I’m not worried about what my daughter learns from her food, I’m just praying she eats something other than a sucker when we get home tonight. This is why I hate mommy blogs. While they’re posting pictures of the vegetable stir fry their children can’t get enough of, I’m bargaining with Brenna to get her to eat chicken nuggets.
Every once in a while, its nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling. Even better, maybe I’m doing a decent job! This self-doubt and insecurity is one of the reasons that moms resent other women so much. Hello single ladies, do you realize that we would love to return to a time where the only one affected by our decisions is us? On a Saturday night, we’re analyzing every move our child makes for a hint that we’ve screwed something up. Of course we’re bitter that you’re out at a bar and actually enjoying yourselves. And every time you whine that people expect you to be settling down and having children, I want to tell you, “Shut up! Don’t have any kids! You might be one of the moms that is more put together than me and I don’t need anyone else rubbing it in my face!”
I would love to say that after realizing my problem, I’m going to work really hard to correct it. It would be nice if I now feel pity for the moms having a hard time, instead of reveling in their misfortune. But it might not happen. Tomorrow, if Brenna spills strawberries all over her lap and I don’t have time to put her in clean clothes before we leave house, I’m going enjoy seeing a mom carrying their child around in pajamas. Because at least my daughter has clothes on, even if they aren’t clean. Knowing I’m more put together than that lady is going to get me through the comments like, “2 and a half and she’s still not potty trained, huh? There’s an article about that on Parenting.com you should read.”