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.


A 5-Step Weight Loss Game Plan

Jenny was just plain tired of the heat. She was tired of wearing long pants to her son’s baseball games in the summer, tired of her thighs rubbing together until they were raw and tired of the embarrassment she felt for being overweight. So last December Jenny made a decision. She was going to lose the weight. She didn’t know how she was going to lose the weight. Or, even when she was going to lose the weight. But she knew in her heart she was definitely going to lose the weight.

You’d never imagine that this slender size 6 wife and Mom of 3 had ever been 100 pounds overweight. She’s bubbly. Engaging. Talkative and energized. She’s got gorgeous long auburn hair and a smile to match. So when she casually mentioned that she’d lost 100 pounds the year before as I perused her garage sale, I just had to know more. How she did it. Why she did it. What was her magic bullet, her trick?

The One Thing at a Time Diet
Jenny told me there was no trick. She woke up the day after Christmas and decided that she was important. That she mattered to herself, and to her family and to God. So she took the ‘one thing at a time’ approach to weight loss. No fad diets. No insane workout schedules. Very little calorie counting. And no deprivation. Jenny simply decided to take care of herself. That’s it.

“I decided that I would start taking care of myself, as well as I take care of everyone else. I started small. Simple things like doing my hair in the morning and shaving my legs every day. Those little things were the catalyst to my 100 pound weight loss.” Jenny joined Weight Watchers Online and worked the program. She even deviated from the program. But Weight Watchers Online combined with Jenny’s intentional declaration made all the difference. The pounds came off slowly but steadily at the rate of about 3 .5 pounds per month. She added in some light exercise in the form of Piyo (a combination of Yoga and Pilates).

Fighting Back Fear
You can tell from Jenny’s smile that 100 pounds lighter feels delightful. She still battles her inner demons…the ones she fights when she wakes up in the morning and still believes she’s a size 22 until she pats her tummy and checks her hips and assures herself she hasn’t gained the weight back.

Jenny just went back to work after 14 years of being a stay at home Mom. She’s reveling in the fact that she can wear shorts to the ballpark. “I wanted to feel young, to be active with my kids and to end my never-ending adult battle with weight.” Jenny went from fat to fit in just under a year with her basic principles of self-care, moderate eating and light exercise. But her true inspiration comes from fielding kid stuff and the joy of being a Mom. “I’m more relaxed now…not so anxious and uptight.” As the weight melted off, so did some of the worries. “Losing weight isn’t about what you eat, it’s about what you think.”

Jenny’s 5-Step Weight Loss Game Plan:
1. Decide. You are important.
2. Take care of yourself. Put yourself first.
3. Eat moderately. Smaller portions. Less junk. More water.
4. Keep the demons at arms length and don’t believe what they tell you. They are lies!
5. Enjoy your life. Celebrate your success.

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

What’s the One Thing You Wish You Could’ve Changed About Your Life?

You know, the one thing that if you could’ve changed it would’ve made an epic difference in your psyche?

Mine is this.

My Mother has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). It R-U-L-E-D our life. It crippled my Dad. It wreaked havoc on any happiness that ever tried to enter our front door because it was the MONSTER of the house. It turned two little girls (me and my sister) into enemies. It made me super strong and super fake because I was so busy pretending that everything was a-ok. It destroyed our family.

I was the happiest girl you could ever meet. Still am.

For the most part (oh, 85%), it’s true. I am happy.

The other 15% is a mask that I wear to hide the torment, the gut-wrenching pain, the all-encompassing fear and the pretense wanting to make my life ‘normal.’ (It’s not.)
Lest you think I’m trying to be Miss Perfect, I have ADD and am borderline bi-polar (I lean more to the manic phases than the depressive) and those are both deemed mental illnesses. (Yes, Mom, I said the word mental illness about myself.)

I danced the people-pleasing dance so suavely for the first 45 years of my life. Then, I crashed, burned out and failed big. Let my impulsiveness and my ADD take me to places and projects I shouldn’t have touched and lost everything I ever owned in a misguided and underfunded real-estate business.

I wish my Mother would’ve gotten help for her OCD. When I was a little girl. When she still read me my favorite book “Madeline” and yelled pedal-pedal-pedal as I learned to ride my little red bike. When change was still possible and the imprint of craziness wasn’t imprinted on my mind and my heart and my soul and my life.

Yes, I said craziness. Because now I’m 50 and this angst still lurks in my soul each and every day. I fight it. I fight hard. Most of the time I win, but sometime I’m simply and utterly too tired.

I wish my Mother would’ve gotten help for her OCD. I wish I could’ve helped her, but as a child I didn’t know how. I tried to be the good girl. I believed that if I worked hard enough and pleased enough people, everything might turn out all right.

It didn’t.

Here are the 10 gems of wisdom I learned from the “One Thing I Wished I Could’ve Changed”:

OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a mental illness. It is a disease. The disease was not my Mom. She is as much a casualty of her own disease as I was. SO SAD

#2: The Monster is the mental illness. The Monster is not my Mom. GET HELP

#3: My Mom’s responsibility was in taking care of her children. She did not. She left us mentally bruised, emotionally battered, and spiritually scarred for life because of her own selfishness. TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN

#4: My future is not dependent on my past. The choices I make today determine the path I will take. CHOOSE A BETTER PATH FOR YOURSELF

#5: My Father was as responsible for my shattered psyche as my Mom was. For decades I viewed him as a hero and just within the past couple of years did I understand that he was an accomplice to the abuse. I know that his intentions were pure and that he believed keeping the family together was paramount, but it crippled us. Parents are responsible for keeping their children safe…no matter what. IF YOU SAY OR DO NOTHING TO PROTECT A CHILD, YOU ARE THE PERPETRATOR

#6: Pleasing people is futile. Treat people with kindness. That’s all you can do. Not everyone is going to like you or want to be your friend. It doesn’t matter. GET OVER BEING LIKED

#7: My fake happiness worked. I am happy. Secrets pervaded my entire childhood. No one knew what was going on in my home. Secrets rarely are good. It has only been in telling the cold hard truths that I have felt liberated and cleansed. DON’T KEEP SECRETS THAT HURT

#8: Not all endings are happy ones. Sometimes they are devastating. LIFE WILL GO ON

#9: Family is ultra-important but there are some circumstances in life that can’t be changed. If your blood family leaves you, make your own. Sometimes friends can be closer than family…and they actually like you just the way you. FAMILY ARE THE PEOPLE YOU CHOOSE

#10: If you can’t control something, can’t change something and didn’t cause something then you have absolutely NO power in making it better. USE YOUR OWN POWER FOR GOOD

Life is a tough teacher. This lesson took 45 years for me to learn.

Challenge:Write your own story. Excavate your own lessons. Teach them to someone else so that what touched you, won’t hurt another. Use your own power for good.