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Ever feel like you’re the worst parent that ever walked God’s green earth? Yeah, me too. I’m feeling it right now actually. I don’t think I am ever on top of anything when it comes to parenting.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not on top of LIFE.
I’m not the most organized person (I’ve convinced myself that this is genetic and that I get it from my Dad) and no matter what tactic I attempt to implement to become more organized, I still manage to be a hot mess.
One of these said tactics is to prepare everything for the boys for daycare the night before. Adam and I used to do this in the morning. Ha! You can imagine how that was going (it takes us a bit to catch on to things).
So after hemming and hawing for weeks about how crazy our mornings were with having two kids in daycare and working full-time jobs, it finally clicked. “Why don’t we prepare all of this stuff the night before?” Adam suggested. My eyes widened. “Brilliant, babe!!” I smiled.
I Am the Model Parent
Pssshhhhh we got this whole parenting thing Figured. Out. This is our plan of attack: Adam gives the boys their baths around 6:45ish – which I am more than ok with because anyone who steps foot in that bathroom during bath time will walk out looking like they just went for a dip in the ocean. While he’s doing that, I make my preschooler’s lunch, locate his nap mat, lay out their clothes, get the baby’s bag together with formula, bottles, bibs, baby food, diapers, etc., and fill out their daily sheets. BAM! Done by 7:15 pm. Not too shabby, right?!
Who Am I Fooling?
Except that I usually forget to pack something. And as I’m writing this, it just occurred to me that I should probably make a checklist. Eh, topic for another time.
As I was saying, I usually forget something. One time it was the baby’s formula which is kinda a big deal. I had just dropped them off at daycare and not two minutes later I got the call. I hung up, yelled out the “F” word like 55 times, texted my boss that I was going to be late, and headed to the grocery store, degrading myself the entire ride there.
Today, it was the bottles. But hey, I remembered the formula! Right? Right???? Ughhhhh.
Ok, this is why the bottle was an especially mom-guilt-filled problem: I am working from home today because my car is in the shop. It’s Wednesday and Wednesdays are super chaotic days at work for Adam so he’s understandably not in a chipper mood. Add all of this to the fact that Adam knows I’m a disorganized spaz and that it drives him crazy… no bueno.
So here I am working on my laptop at my kitchen table and daycare calls to let me know I forgot the bottles. “No problem! I’ll be there in 30 minutes to drop one off,” I said. Well this is a pain in the ass. But could be worse. Oh Jen, you silly girl.
I ran upstairs to throw on some jeans and then it hit me. My car is in the shop. Motherf$*@!%!!!!! I’m not going anywhere. And I absolutely cannot call Adam. I just talked to him and he’s already cranky that he had to do drop off on his craziest day of the week. Besides, there’s no way he’ll have the time to go buy a bottle and drop it off at daycare.
A Narrow Escape
My one saving grace is Adam’s Great Aunt (whom I’ve happily adopted as my own). Not only is she wonderful, but she works at the daycare. I can’t count the number of times she has saved the day with my parenting fumbles.
You know that great piece of career advice that is something along the lines of when you go to your boss with a problem, also go with a couple possible solutions? I’m really good at doing that – at work. I, however, have not figured out how to do that as a parent.
I quickly called our Aunt. “Hi. It’s Jen. I don’t know what to do – I forgot to pack the baby’s bottles, and I don’t have a car to get there, and Adam is in meetings all day.” I patiently waited to hear her miraculous fix, and she of course came through.
We decided that since he is almost one, he can make it through the day on baby food. He’ll probably drink water from a cup if someone is holding it for him. One day without formula isn’t going to stunt his development. Not ideal, but it’s the best we can do.
I hung up the phone. The guilt I felt was almost unbearable and I felt my eyes starting to well up with tears. I’m not big on crying, so when I do cry you know I’m feeling prettttyyyy awful.
Our Aunt called back a few minutes later to let me know that they found a packaged nipple and a sterilized bottle insert that they could use. My little guy had been fed and he was now fast asleep. Crisis averted. I was relieved, but I still felt sucky.
In My Head
I felt sucky because I shouldn’t be forgetting things that my children need during their time at daycare. And the teachers who work there probably see how all of the other moms just saunter in to daycare with their perfectly done hair, their little kids with clean faces, and their properly packed bags.
The daycare team has never once made me feel like an inadequate mother, but come on, we all know they’re thinking it. And my kid’s teachers must be ready to call child services on my ass. Not to mention I make their day so much harder than it already is when I don’t provide them with the resources they need to take care of my son.
I can hear it now. “His mom forgot XYZ AGAIN.” *eye roll*
Back to Reality
I remembered the time when I’d forgotten the formula. I beat myself up over that all day long and I posted on my personal Facebook page about what I had done and how upset I was about it.
That day, I received a bunch of supportive messages from moms who were my family, friends, and acquaintances.
After receiving those messages, I realized that I am not the only mom who has days when she feels like she’s failing her children. And in my rational mind, I know I’m not alone in how I feel. So I’d like to share these reminders with you and I hope that you’ll store them in your mind and think of them in those times when you feel like you’re not enough. I promise to do the same.
- You are going to make mistakes, but you are still a great mom. At the end of the day, everything you do is for your kids and you love them with your whole heart. That is why you are doing an amazing job with motherhood. And the guilt that you’re feeling over something that probably won’t even matter a week, a month, or a year from now? That proves how much you care!
- You are just as good, if not better, than those moms who seem to have it all together all the time. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. You don’t know what their individual situations are. Maybe those moms have nannies or their parents living with them who help them out. Maybe they only have one child instead of two, three or four, and so they have more time and less to remember. Maybe they don’t have a full-time job, and you do. Or maybe, just maybe, they are feeling the exact same way you are and they are looking at you thinking the same thing you are about them! Also, and this is super important, if you’re comparing yourself to what you see on social media, please please please remember that what you see on Facebook is only one small part of the story – and usually the best part.
- Everything feels so hard because it IS hard. Don’t be so tough on yourself. Mommin’ ain’t easy! You’re juggling 10 balls in the air at any given time. You’re bound to drop one or five of them sometimes. And that’s ok! It’s all ok. You’re doing your best, and that’s all you can do. It is enough.
- If your best friend made the same mistake, what would you tell her? Mom guilt is a popular word these days. Everyone feels it from time to time. Some of us more often than others. The forgotten bottle has been a cloud over my head all day and I’ve been sharing my story with whoever will listen whilst licking my wounds. So far, the couple people I’ve told (my mom and my best friend) have laughed and shrugged it off as nothing, reassuring me that I’m a good mom. I would do the same if my best friend came and told me that she had forgotten to send a bottle to daycare with her son. Ahhh lightbulb moment. If you’re super sensitive like me and you find yourself wallowing over a momming mistake, imagine that it was your best friend who made the mistake and not you. What would you tell her? Then tell yourself the same thing and move on with your bad self.
- This is temporary. You will not always feel this way. I know it doesn’t seem that way. A former colleague told me this verbatim. Her kids are grown now. She said, “We put such pressure on ourselves to do everything right. We are human and it’s hard. You are so important to your boys. This is temporary. You will not always feel this way. I know this.” What really drove this point home to me and provided comfort was when she said “I know this”. It comforted me because it was such a certain statement and I knew that she meant it. Don’t get me wrong, I know we’ll all still be making parenting and grandparenting mistakes 20, 30 years down the road. But I choose to believe that time and experience will have made us wiser. The guilt that we allow ourselves to feel now, we will know not to feel then.
Listen, lady. You are doing your best. We all are. We’re going to have days where nothing goes right and we screw everything up. There’s no avoiding it.
Take 5 minutes to cry, or call your mom to vent, or lock yourself in the bathroom for some peace and quiet. Then remind yourself how awesome you are, even if it doesn’t feel that way, and that most of the time our kids (and husbands) don’t even know we messed up anyway!
Go finish the day the best that you can. Tomorrow is a new day.
Do you ever feel “mom guilt”? How do you deal with it?