Are You a Really Crappy Mom?

We’re living in a generation where everything gets a pass.

Charlie Sheen gets a hit TV show called “Anger Management” after he acts like an imbocile and tries to take down his former TV show “Two and a Half Men.” Lindsey Lohan continues to get movie deals after she’s been arrested too many times to count. Gun toting psychopaths gun down innocent children in elementary schools and 5 kids get 1 million likes on Facebook in 13 hours because they want to get a family dog and need Mom and Dad to pay attention.

What do these four isolated scenarios have in common? They’re all insane.

Never has there been a time in history where you can do less and get noticed more.

You started reading this article because you wanted to know if you’re a really crappy Mom. Perhaps you are. I’m not going to post a test or a checklist with the “10 Ways to Know If You’re a Really Crappy Mom.” You know if you are. Your gut tells you. Your heart tells you. You don’t have to ask anyone on Facebook or read any blogs to know.

Motherhood is sacred.

Motherhood is the one thing that can literally change the world.

You know if you’re doing your job. Or not.

If your kids are in day care, that’s crappy. They need you.

If you feed your kids fast food 5 nights a week because you’re too tired to cook, that’s crappy.

If you watch TV all night long instead of reading to your kids, that’s crappy.

If you spend more time in the car toting your kids than talking to them, that’s crappy.

If you put your kids to bed between the commercials, that’s crappy.

If you divorce their Dad, that’s crappy. (And yes, it will affect them forever. That ‘resiliant’ word is a cop-out. Just ask any adult whose parents divorced when they were young.)

If you work underneath your own potential, that’s crappy.

If you scream and yell all day, that’s crappy.

If you drink or take drugs to numb your own pain, that’s crappy.

So are you? A crappy Mom?

Or are you like the many million Moms out there who are getting about 50% of it right and 50% of it wrong?

The human ones. The ones where guilt and goodness and love and letting people down weigh in about equal on the scale of life?

Are you trying?

Are you doing your best?

Are you training up your child in the way he/she should go?

If you are, then you’re doing okay. We could all do better.

We could be more and do more and work less and love more.

But that’s the same with all of life.

The insaneness will always be with us.
The crazies will get the publicity while the Mom on a quest to do the right thing will go unnoticed.

Not entirely unnoticed.

The kids are watching.

They need you Mom.

All of you. (or as much as they can get)

If you want to change the world, simply go be a good Mom.


The Art of Flailing

When I was a young Mom I was in one word, terrible. I think my ADD (attention deficit disorder) was a big contributor to this inadequacy but at that time of my life I wasn’t so in tune with what my nerve endings were doing. All I knew is that I wanted to scream most days. I struggled with postpartum depression for 9 months after the birth of my oldest daughter. I sucked at mothering.

Many days all I could do was get through. I was working too much and racing too much and trying to do it all perfectly when in fact I was doing nothing perfectly. I was a wreck and yet no one seemed to notice except my husband who had to calm me down several times a day. My daughter was so perfect and so energetic and so, so me.

I was flailing.

The bread on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was stale, the laundry was heaped in piles in the bedroom and the toys were a mess all over the dining room. When I was at work I wanted to be at home and when I was at home all I could think about was work. It was not good. It was a mess, just like the dining room.

I was a mess.

So I had a 2nd child. Never once did I think, slow down. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy the moment. No, my life was a pressure cooker and I just kept blowing off steam to keep from exploding. But once I had my 2nd precious baby, I noticed something. She wasn’t double the work. She was hardly any more work than just juggling one.

I was how should I say it…adjusting.

Oh, I still swirled about. Still cried because I was so tired from doing it all. Still struggled with potty training and meals and guilt and leftover macaroni and cheese. I still leaned on my husband and was exasperated with my job and dreamed of going to bed at 7 pm just so I could catch up.

Mothers never sleep you know. Or, that is we rarely sleep.

And so I had Baby #3. I’m so glad I never had to put in an application to have children because they would’ve handed it back to me with the word stamped DENIED. I simply was sub par in the Mothering world. My own Mother had never been a shining example of how a Mother should be, so I guess I didn’t really know how. But no Mother really knows how to be a Mother.

It’s all a big experiment of trial and error.

The first few years I’d been erring. The trials seemed bigger than I’d imagined. The girl who had been good at everything she’d ever tried was not that good at this. But I did one thing…I kept flailing.

I kept loving my babies (between the screams).

I kept moving forward.

I kept making changes. One day I walked into my boss and handed him his pink slip.
I was going home to be with my babies and learn how to be a good Mother even if the thought simply terrified me. (And it did.)

I’d been flailing for years and the flailing was working.

I was getting better.

I was growing.

I was screaming less and laughing more.

I was spending more of the right time with the right people and less time obsessing over work.

I was becoming the Mother I knew I should be and wasn’t settling for being the Mother I knew how to be.

So in this long-winded scenario in which I reveal my true Mother colors I want to make this point. You have to flail. It is part of the process of life. It is part of the process in which you grow and stumble and fall down and get back up. And you do it again and again and again.

It doesn’t matter what you’re flailing at. It might be motherhood. It might be your career. It could be marriage. Maybe it’s money. It might be with friendship or God or simply taking care of yourself.

It’s okay to flail.

My youngest son is now 21. I tell people I just got really good at this mothering thing the year he left for college. I’d been a Mother for 26 years at that point. The first few years I was terrible. The middle few I was satisfactory to average. And the last decade or so I was really getting my groove on.

My daughter gave me my first grandson almost 3 years ago. I’m an amazing grandmother. I look at his tiny feet and swing with him at the park and hug him and love him with this overwhelming sense of God in my heart.

I spend time. No agendas. No demands. Just time.

I’m a master of loving him…so patiently, so fully, so there.

Flailing is the training ground for becoming a master…of anything

Why I’m No Longer The Little Girl in the Green Plaid Dress

My first distinct memory of my Mother’s OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) came when I was around 5. I was wearing a little green plaid dress that complemented my blonde hair, brown shoes and white ankle socks (I know, a dork for sure.) We had been to my Grandmother’s house (my Dad’s Mom who my Mother hated) and when we returned home the ritual began.

What ritual you ask?

The OCD cleanliness ritual.

My Mom viewed anything and everything to do with my Grandmother as dirty. So when we’d hop out of the car to go in the house, my Mother was the only one who could touch the door handles. (Yes, even my Dad adhered to her rules.)

We’d huddle together in the living room (my sister, Dad and I) and wait for Mom to go to the bathroom to wash her hands. Then, she’d accompany each of us to the bathroom to wash our hands. Now, we all had clean hands. Step 1 complete.

Step 2 begins. Mom would undress us, put our clothes in a neat little pile and ready us for the bathtub. We weren’t allowed to touch anything while this was being done. She even turned on the bathwater and lifted us into the tub. (I’m not sure what my Dad did, I’m sure he was in the other room in the shower.)

After we were done, she’d pick us up out of the tub and dry us off. Then we’d head to our bedrooms to get dressed.

The OCD cleanliness ritual was almost complete. Mom wasn’t done yet though.

Step 3. She still had to clean all the door handles that had been touched, wipe out the car (or at least the car door handles), wipe our shoes clean and banish any gifts or trinkets we’d brought home from Grandma’s. Usually, these would never been seen again by us. It made me sad. A present was never really a present because it was taken away within 3 minutes of returning home.

There was never any discussion about this ritual. We knew that there was no choice. Adhere or pay for the hell that would accompany the mutiny. We stood stone silent while the ritual was played out. Mom was in charge. Or rather, the OCD was in charge.

Anything to do with my Grandmother was ‘dirty’ in my Mom’s mind. If I stooped to retie a shoelace while I was at my Grandma’s, my Mom’s evil gaze came upon me. Now, we’d have to get rid of the laces.

Why do I tell you about this sickening, disgusting, sad little ritual that typically happened on Sunday afternoons?

Because there’s a Mom out there somewhere with OCD that’s doing the same thing to her child this very moment. There’s someone who needs help out of the black abyss and no one’s listening. There’s a child being emotionally abused by someone who isn’t mentally healthy. And that child needs us.

I’m no longer the girl in the little green plaid dress. I’m no longer silent or compliant or controlled by the OCD. I’ve spent half a century fighting my own demons from the abuse that was inflicted on me by my own Mother. And even now, even now that I’m safe and loved and a grandmother to my own precious grandson, there’s a part of me that licks the tears from my cheeks as I write this.

Where were all the adults in my life? Why didn’t my Dad have the strength to protect my sister and I? Why did we stay in that all-consuming hell we called home?

The OCD consumed my Mother and took her from me. I hate OCD. I hate green plaid. And I certainly hate secrets.