Bad Mom. Nope, I am not reviewing the movie, Bad Moms starring Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell. I am talking about me. Yup, I said it, I am a bad mom.
I have always said that motherhood scares me even when I was still a young girl and boyfriendless. I have always been excited to eventually marry and have a man who I love to share my life with but the prospect of being a mother, to raise human beings, terrifies the hell out of me. I mean can you imagine being responsible to how your kids will turn out in the end? And if anything goes wrong, from pregnancy, up to all the milestones in their life- schooling, career choices, marriage, etc, you are the one to blame! People will dissect and conclude that it is because of your poor mothering skills, your children became like that.
And now, with the intrusive role of social media, the age of Pinterest and the enormous load of ready information everywhere, being a mother doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the expectation of being the good mom or better yet, the perfect mom is overwhelming. Now, they set very high standards to motherhood and there are a lot of the ‘shoulds’ in modern-day parenting. We should fully breastfeed our baby. (We should lose the baby weight in a month! – that is not parenting but I couldn’t help but include that.) We should give only organic foods for our baby. We should know how to discipline our toddler. We should send our kid to music appreciation classes. We should never spank our kids. The lists go on…..
It is exhausting to try to be a perfect mom when simply being a mom is exhausting enough. We feel embarrassed if you see how well some moms takes on the role of motherhood compared to you. They have perfect babies and have Pinterest-like baby room in their homes. They have disciplined polite toddlers who would serve you lemonade with a smile when you come to visit. They can create bento meals that looks like Pikachu or Olaf from Frozen for their kids’ lunch meals. On top of it, they can have a tidy home while doing arts & craft together with their kids.
It reminds me of a time when I only had Naj and not yet pregnant with Fynn. Naj was 8 months old at that time. I don’t have a nanny yet but I have a babysitter whom I will drop Naj in her home before work and fetch him after work. It was on my Saturday half-day work-day. I fetched him in his babysitter’s unit after my work was done. I put him in the Baby Bjorn baby carrier facing outwards. I have to do groceries because our stocks are running low so we headed to the nearby mall. It was 2 PM and I was so hungry! I have to buy some cookies from Subway so I wouldn’t faint from hunger. There I was in the check-out queue in the grocery shop, munching my chocolate chip cookies, dancing with my entire trunk moving up & down to soothe 8-months-old Naj while feeding him bits of cookies. An elderly lady in front of me looked at Naj then to me then back at Naj and said, “You need to give him water. And his face has a lot of chocolate.” I looked like a hot mess, my hair disheveled, my face with faded traces of make-up, my tote bag heavy with stuff while my other shoulder carries Naj’s huge baby bag. My son looks so dirty with his face and hands with crumbles of cookies and smeared with chocolate. He was smiling happily at the old lady probably with of all the sugar he has ingested. The old lady looked back at me again and said, “You’re not with anyone today? You should bring a stroller. That carrier is bad for his hip.” For a moment there, I felt ashamed of myself. I am a bad mom. I understood that the intention of the elderly lady was good and not malicious. I don’t think she wanted me to feel bad. She just couldn’t help give some suggestions (and involuntary judgment) like most people do.
Being in this mothering gig for 2 years & a few months now and with 2 recipients to my mothering skills, I had several occasions that I became a bad mom. I couldn’t give adequate and equal attention for both my kids. If I indulge my toddler in a long cuddletime, I would ignore my baby’s crying for attention. If I have my quiet breastfeeding time with Fynn, I will have to decline Naj for his request for piggyback rides. I don’t breastfeed exclusively and I would feed my baby non-organic biscuits. I am not good in forcing my toddler to brush his teeth so there are nights where he go to bed without brushing his candy-stained teeth. I can’t entice my toddler with my cooking so I gave his chocolate donuts with sugar sprinkles instead. Sometimes, I know my baby has soiled his diaper but I wait half an hour before changing it. I would lose my temper or get upset or I would cry for being helpless. I would snap at Naj and turn into scary mom. I would shout at him not because I want to correct him for his behavior but because I am pissed off. I didn’t mind seeing Fynn munch on a toy with a sticker paper slightly detached until I stopped him before he swallows the wet pieces of paper that came off.
Ohh, I pray that my kids would turn out well inspite of my imperfections, inspite being the modern-day definition of a bad mom. I listened to my heart and God would whisper, “Just love them and I will be there to guide you.” That comforted me. I love my kids so much that I think my heart is going to burst. I want the best for them. I want to do everything in my capacity for them. It scares me that maybe due to a wrong decision or a wrong way of parenting, I would scar them for life. Am I making them too attached to me that they will not learn to be independent? Am I being to indulgent that they will turn out as brats? Constantly these worries and many more would pop into my head. But I would always go back to God’s gentle advice, “Just love them.” I maybe a bad mom but my love for them is unconditional and true. My compass for raising them is love- that will guide me and my husband to the 1001 & more decisions we will be facing in raising kids. We know we might make mistakes along the way. We realized that parenting doesn’t come with a proper instructional manual even if there are thousand of parenting books in the library. They don’t answer all the questions and they are also often conflicting. We have to resort to trial & error and hope for the best. The illusion of the perfect parent or the perfect mom is daunting and unrealistic. I decided I should not set my standards on something that is heavily filtered and anchors on public approval. We know our kids better than anyone. What work for them may not work for us. We all have same goals: to raise them well and make them feel loved. Our approach to how we reach our goals may differ but we are all the same in a way. Bad moms, good moms, scared moms, perfect moms, angry mom, helpless mom, scary moms, sweet moms… Maybe it’s time to remove the adjective and just call us moms.