Am I Really A Bad Mom?
Sometimes I feel I’m a bad mom. I spend a lot of time dealing with mom guilt. I used to feel inadequate — guilt being, after all, the wellspring of feelings of inadequacy. Then came Halloween last week, and with it my introduction to (and induction into) my friend Erika’s group of mommy pals, known affectionately to one another as ‘The Bad Moms Club’.
Fittingly, we Bad Moms stayed in Erika’s spacious, pretty kitchen with platters of munchies and seemingly bottomless bottles of wine, while the stoic menfolk took our kids around the neighborhood to hustle candy out of elderly people up past their bedtimes.
And We Talked
One mom confessed after a couple of glasses of wine to feeling like a bad mom and having moments where she looked forward to her kids moving out someday. In the same breath, this self-proclaimed “bad mom” gushed about how proud she was of her daughter (whom she described also as a best friend) and how worried she got when said child went on her first out-of-town trip with the school band. I “comforted” her in true Bad Mom form with the following uncensored and regrettable observation: “Don’t worry. I was in band. I remember those road trips. We had so much fun. We used to make out in the back seats of the busses…oh, wait. My bad.”
The conversation soon turned to our next favorite topic after kids, which is (cough) how the kids got here in the first place. We talked sex in great detail that cannot be replicated here. We laughed at how inappropriate and honest we were being. One of us then discussed the stripper pole she’d installed in her bedroom to keep her marriage alive, while someone else recounted her experiences with handcuffs.
Conversation also turned to discipline, boundaries, limit-setting and faith. We discussed children’s books, recipes and knitting. We were, apparently, a well-rounded bunch of Bad Moms.
As we confessed our shortcomings as mothers and faced our mom guilt, I aired a long list of my own. I’d gone the cheap and easy route with the costume for my son, for instance, and felt guilty about it. We’d done a store-bought zombie outfit. I fretted about how lame I was compared to my son’s best friend’s mother, who began sewing her five children’s super original costumes each June.
I also confessed to doing microwave enchiladas each week, where other moms in the PTA shared homemade recipes for the same dish, which at least one of them made with red chile from her family’s own farm.
Sometimes, I said in a whisper, I sent my son to school in dirty pants sprayed with Febreze, because I’d gotten so absorbed in editing something after he’d gone to sleep that I’d forgotten to put his laundry in the dryer the night before. The Bad Moms nodded in sympathy. Encouraged, I sat up and spoke louder. I didn’t vacuum the car out often enough, I told them, and once found a petrified French fry collection under the driver’s seat, coated in dog hair. More nods all around. I spoke louder yet. Once, I’d forgotten to get up in the middle of the night to put money under my son’s pillow, and when he told me dismally at breakfast that the Tooth Fairy forgot him, I ran to his room and dropped a fiver on the floor, then told my kid he’d just overlooked it.
God, it felt good to get this stuff out in the open. To realize I wasn’t alone in feeling like a bad mom.
Later that night, the kids and men returned from prowling for candy. And you know what? All of our kids came to show us Bad Moms what they’d gotten. They hugged us. Their cheeks were rosy from the cold, and their eyes filled with happiness. I watched the “Bad Moms” encourage, love, and support their offspring, and I realized something. Something big.
We weren’t bad at all. We weren’t even inadequate. We were, simply, human. And often, we were tired humans. We were, all of us, good moms — because only good moms suffer from mom guilt in the first place.