Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Bad Mom?

Several of you have used the phrase I'm about to discuss at one time or another, so no one can say I'm pointing out someone specifically! :o)

When Caleb was just three months old, Josh and I traveled for a Thanksgiving family gathering that was 2.5 hours away from our home. It would be an overnight trip (I think we left the evening before Thanksgiving) so I made sure to have enough diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, bouncy seat, and a pack-n-play. I was not nursing, so I made sure to have his bottles packed and his powdered formula ready.

When we arrived to our destination, we suddenly realized that we forgot something...the diaper bag! How could parents forget the diaper bag? What a horrible moment for me as a "new" mom. I felt so dumb. I felt like I let my baby down. The worst part was that he also had medicine packed in that diaper bag for an ear infection that I was supposed to give him every so many hours.

Diapers and formula could be bought at the store down the road. I think someone even bought me an extra outfit for him. He seemed to do ok without the medicine during the time we were there. The family gathering came and went. Now the entire thing is just a silly memory for me.

But during that time, I never said, "Oh, I'm such a bad mom." No one thought poorly of me, they probably just felt sorry for me! I do remember having tears about it, but that's because I felt stupid for leaving the one thing you're supposed to bring with a baby! :o)

Sarah was climbing into the van one day and I let her do it on her own as I walked around to get Gabriel into his seat. She must have lost her footing and fell and hit her head on the concrete floor of the garage. She cried hard and fell asleep within moments. I frantically called Peggy (who is an RN) and asked what I should do because it wasn't a time for her to nap or anything. She gave me instruction, and I knew what to look for. But at no time did I feel like I was a bad mom because my child fell.

I have not been right on track with check-ups for the kids sometimes. Caleb was late for his preschool promotion. Sometimes we have a late breakfast and I forget to make lunch. Sometimes I forget to do laundry in time for the kids to have the clothes I'd like for them to wear, so I have to dig and find something less desirable for them to wear.

And I've seen moms flippantly say they are bad moms for such things. I wish they wouldn't. You know you're not truly a bad mom if you forgot to bring your child's backpack to school or you let them have cookies for breakfast.

There are plenty of things that come to mind that might label someone as a bad mom. Abandonment perhaps? Not feeding your children because you need the money for a drug addiction? But I can't presume to know the heart or mental capacity of these women either, so who knows.

Might I suggest that we become more mindful of the phrase bad mom. Because really...there isn't any mom I know personally that is a bad one.


Mrs. Haid said...

Maybe instead of bad mom, these women really mean they've been a better mom in the past, and so by comparision, they feel they could do better.

I know what you mean - I think that making a poor choice or having an oops moment doesn't mean one is a bad mom.

I think that the self depreciating label of bad mom is sort of like a confession of guiltiness for not being as good as one normally is.

I wonder what would be a better term for not being up to par? Because sometimes its okay to admit things didn't go as you had planned and you wished you had more of it all together.

I don't think lazy mom, dumb mom, or mean mom is a better substitute. But I think the label bad mom might be synonomous with those titles.

Maybe I would call myself a Oops Mom when something silly like that happens.

Oh, I think that four year ago Chrissy who left the diaper bag would only be a bad mom if she left the baby AND his bag at home! (but only if it was on purpose because of some drug addiction or something, not if it was a five second oops moment!)

Chrissy said...

I understand what you mean. But I guess it just feels like a self defeating term. Do we have to label ourselves as "bad" if we mess up? We're human after all. We make mistakes. It happens!

Nel said...

I was seriously getting ready to write a post on all of my "bad mommy" moments that I have had lately, LOL! I will have to rethink the title now... because, my kids are still alive - so I can't be that bad, right?!?!?!

Causey Fam said...

I agree with you on the phrase! I don't tell my children they are bad when they do something wrong or accidentally. Everyone makes mistakes, but it doesn't mean they are bad!

I think as moms we also need to be careful how we talk about ourselves out loud. If children are hearing Mom say this or that, then it must be okay and the negative self talk continues in the next generation whether it is "bad, not pretty, fat, ect..."

cheryl & dave w. said...

wow....definitely something to think about, chrissy! i say that i am a bad mom a lot (but i also have a HORRIBLE self image of myself because i mess up WAY TOO OFTEN). dave gets frustrated with me and always says if i was the kind of mom that was strung out on drugs and neglected my kid out of sheer selfishness, THEN, i'd be a bad mom. i agree with him on that, but in the moment i often think i am a bad mom. part of it's that i am an extreme person (meaning i like to use extreme emotions for ones that MIGHT not be as bad as they are...), but the other is that i have a bad self image. maybe that's how some of those moms are that you are eluding to......keep that in mind when you hear them say it and say a small prayer for them. maybe they just need to have God work in their lives to make them feel better about themselves (like me!). thanks so much for the reminder that we ARE human, and we DO make mistakes. i needed to hear that. the really funny thing is that when other moms make mistakes, like your diaper bag incident, i NEVER think, "oh they are a bad mom"....wonder why i think that about myself??????

sarah--i agree with what you said on the issue about telling kids they are bad. ever since i was in school to be a teacher, that's one thing they emphasized. the kids themselves aren't bad, their actions might be in some cases, and we all make mistakes. so since then i have made every attempt not to say a kid is bad, and especially now that i have brody. it can definitely be a self-esteem destroyer! BUT, i like what you said about not saying negative things about yourself in front of the kids either....never thought about that. i guess i am gonna have to work on that, huh??

Mrs. Haid--i REALLY like "oops mom"! =) that made me laugh, so i guess if i said that more often, maybe i wouldn't think so negatively of myself! =)

e said...

We say "Uh oh, Mommy!" and "Uh oh, Mia!" a lot. I loved your post because moms shouldn't be so self-deprecating for simple little mistakes. Even Martha Stewart makes mistakes (wasn't she in prison)!

It's good advice and can be used in a variety of situations. I'm not a "bad person" for not sticking to my diet. I'm not a "bad wife" for ignoring Alex one night in favor of watching a movie.

For the most part, we're all good people who are sometimes thoughtless and make mistakes.

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