Motherhood is a challenge. I think any mom who just read those words laughed a bit. She probably reflected back to the time when her baby threw up on her, her toddler pulled their diaper off and left her with a nasty surprise after naptime, her child drew on the walls and all those other wonderful moments that make mothers around the world look at their children and ask the same question “Are you sure you’re mine?”
I have learned so much in the last 16 months with my daughter. One of those realizations has been that some mothers can be very insecure, myself included. I want to be the best mother I can possibly be to Snuggle Bug because I feel that she deserves the best I can give to her. That being said, I’m a far cry from the best mother on the planet for a few reasons.
One, I let her watch TV. Yes, I’ve read the studies; yes I know it’s not the best thing in the world for her and, no, she doesn’t sit in front of the TV all day. But sometimes 30 minutes watching Elmo’s World or Sesame Street makes her happy and gives me a chance to make lunch or dinner.
Two, she knows the word tattoo. I have a decent sized tattoo on my arm that she loved to look at when it was new. She kept crawling over, pointing to it and then looking up at me with this inquisitive face. So one day I pointed and said “tattoo” and she pointed and repeated, well to the best of her toddler ability that is.
Three, we don’t eat at the dinner table. It is not uncommon for me to pull her highchair into the living room and for us to eat dinner and watch Jeopardy together. It’s our favorite evening show. Growing up the only time I ever sat at the dinner table was during holidays. Once I was out of a highchair I vividly remember the Strawberry Shortcake TV tray that I sat at during dinner time with my family as we ate dinner in the living room and watched family shows together. Then again, this was back in the day when they actually had shows on in the evening that the entire family could watch together (Alf anyone?). The hubby’s family also wasn’t one to sit at the table and enjoy family meals. Despite the lack of family bonding around the dinner table we both have strong bonds with our families and did spend time with them. Neither of us turned out to be delinquents and are both functional members of society.
I have no doubt there are more but this is what comes to mind at the moment.
For a while I’ve felt bad about these things. Not because I personally think they’re wrong but because of the comparisons I’ve made to other mothers. I’ll never fully understand why mothers are always fighting each other trying to prove that they have the better parenting skill. It’s not like anyone is going to give us a medal if the house is immaculate 24/7 and your baby is walking, potty training and reading Tolstoy by 10 months old. That is something I’ve had to remind myself daily because it’s easy to fall into the mommy guilt trap.
I was chatting with a friend yesterday who has a child close to Snuggle Bug’s age. She asked what I was up to and I told her I was sitting with Snuggle Bug while she finished up dinner. Her response was interesting, “Oh well we eat dinner together at the dining table. No TV, no computer, no phone or anything.” Now I don’t think she was trying to sound high and mighty but never the less her response made me feel like she was trying to prove something. I’ve been blessed with a passive child who has decided that things like walking and teething are better left till later. This means, at 16 months, she only has 4 teeth and still isn’t walking. She cruises like a maniac and crawls and just a few months ago began crawling with her belly off the ground. So I’ve encountered many comments about this. “Why can’t she walk?” or “It’s sad she can’t play with other children her own age….” I had a friend send me a picture of her child and another child their age running at the park and the note said “it’s sad she can’t come run with them but maybe soon.” Yeah, it pissed me off because I want my child to have everything other children her age have.
I thought a lot last night about what makes a good mother. I’ve decided, to me, a good mother is a woman who loves her child(ren) unconditionally and deeply and does everything in her power to give them the best she can. I’m not a perfect person and I’m not a perfect mother but I love my Snuggle Bug with all my heart and will do anything in my power to make her life and happy and positive one. Oh motherhood, who knew it would be like this?
Oh Strawberry Shortcake...the memories....
"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."-- Agatha Christie