STOP pretending to be the perfect mom!

I was tagged by Unhappy Mommy with an interesting request.  To answer one of the questions she posted at the end of her post.  I am flattered that she wanted to hear what I had to say in response.

So, of course, being ME, my mind immediately grabbed #8.

  • If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

The only challenge there is- ONE thing!?  How could I pick just ONE thing?  I started thinking of all the ways I feel I don’t measure up.  And then I realized what I REALLY needed to change is my overly-ciritcal nature.  I DESPERATELY want to change that.  So…in that spirit, I’m not going to write any more on what I would change about myself. 

As much as I’d like to talk about #5

  • What is your favorite song? Why?

Thunder Road, baby!  LOOOOOOVE IT!  But I don’t think I’d be much good at explaining why.

So, instead I’m going to write about # 1.

  • What is the one truth that you know, without a doubt, that you wish you could share?

Well, I don’t know about THE ONE truth, but certainly I have A truth that I really want to share:  There is not enough honesty about motherhood.

It has become clear to me that too few people are REALLY honest about motherhood, particularly the early years, and that there is WAY too much glossing-over, leaving-out of the bad stuff, and sometimes outright dishonesty.  A LOT of it is perpetrated by the mothers themselves, which is especially problematic. 

I will not forget walking by a coworker one day when I was pregnant with Lola.  She had recently returned from maternity leave and of course was being asked about the baby all the time, and of course new moms are EAGER to share!  🙂  This girl is one of those people who always wears the right thing (in a tiny size of course), says the right thing, and gains only the recommended 25 lbs of pregnancy weight (if that).  You know.  The kind that eats the appropriate 1800 calories every day and then just stops, and if she wants something else, she just doesn’t have it, because that would be MORE than the 1800 calories. 

So, I’m standing nearby overhearing, and she’s telling a group of people that no matter how many times the baby wakes her up, she doesn’t mind at all.  She just smiles and smiles about it because she loves him so much.

Bullshit.  I didn’t even have a baby yet and I clearly recognized this as bullshit.

And this kind of bullshit?  It is actually DESTRUCTIVE.  When some average woman has given birth, and her hormones are all out of whack, and every bit of the life that was once hers is now devoted to the care of someone else, and she hasn’t slept in 2 months, and now in the middle of the night she can totally understand how people wind up shaking their babies- she doesn’t need her mind going back to “I ENJOY waking up 75 times a night because I LOVE my baby.”  Because that’s bullshit.  And no regular mother can measure up to this false perfection.  But that’s what she heard.  That is what the perfect tiny blonde in the halllway said. 

It’s everywhere.  I mean, the culture has been obsessed with babies for quite some time now.  And all the rich celebrities are doing it, and as far as you can tell, they’re doing it better than you!  They’re all skinny and their children all wear custom, handmade, fair-trade ensembles (or tiny designer duds) and play only with educational toys handmade from sustainable materials.  It seems, at least, that a greater number of us is able to see through the media’s depiction of motherhood.  What’s more damaging are the mother-to-mother interactions. 

 “I never want to take a date night with my husband, because I would never want to be away from my children.”    

I fed my child only nutritious, organic food from the beginning, so she doesn’t even LIKE anything processed or anything containing sugar.”

“I would never even CONSIDER turning my kid’s carseat around to forward face before his third birthday because I CARE too much for his SAFETY!”

etc. etc. etc.

It is easy to get the message that, if you can’t say all the same things, it’s simply because you don’t LOVE your child enough, or care enough about his or her health and safety.  (I’m 0 for 3 on that list, if you’re wondering). 

And sometimes these perfect moms are just flat out dishonest.  Some of them are putting cloth diapers on their kid when they’re with people who will notice and telling you their kid is cloth diapered while they’re going through Pampers by the boxfull the rest of the time.  Some of them are telling you their kid has NEVER had a drop of anything but breastmilk (which, of course, they produce so prolifically they could feed small villages), while at home their kid is munching on Gerber puffs and has been getting occasional bottles of formula since 6 weeks out.  And there’s nothing wrong with Pampers, or puffs, or formula.  My kids have both made use of all 3 on many occasions.  But you can FEEL like there is, when it LOOKS like others are doing so much better.

These ideal things are true for some moms, I’m sure.  But when they’re constantly touted, with no  mention of the other side, it is disingenuous, and it can make other moms feel like crap.  I’m sure I’m guilty of it too.  I try not to be.  But it’s hard, when everyone seems to be competing to do the BEST job of motherhood, to not just want to put your good stuff out there too, and keep the other things to yourself.  The ones that it seems only YOU are failing at. 

Well, let me tell you: I struggle  to pump enough milk for Corbin and I have to supplement with some formula on the days I work.  I have screamed at both of my children (yup, even as babies) so intensely that I’ve made them cry with fear.  Once in a while Lola lives whole days on less-than-nutritious snacks and no “real” meals.  I fight with my husband in front of the kids.  I am so unable to reel in my trucker’s mouth that a little while back my 3 yr old daughter got mad and called me “fucking mommy!”  I guzzle Crystal Light and Diet Pepsi during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.  I gained 55 lbs while pregnant with Lola.  And I have actually GAINED weight postpartum with Corbin.  Lola watches WAY too much TV.  Not like, “oh dear, she watches 3 hours a week when I’d really be more comfortable with one or 2.”  No, we’re talking WAAYYY too much TV.  (I’m wracked with guilt about it most of the time.)  I compare my children much too often, to each other and to other kids.  Sometimes I desperately wish I could go back to the days before kids when my body was desirable and my time was my own. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But you know what?  I’m a good mom.  Sadly, it’s only very recently that I’ve been able to say that and actually believe it.

I had a type of Post Partum Depression after Lola was born.  I didn’t really recognize it for a while, because I didn’t feel DEPRESSED, per se.  I didn’t feel really sad or apathetic or detached from my baby or any of those things PPD makes you think of.  What I had was anxiety.  Debilitating, crushing anxiety.  I just felt an overwhelming sense of failure.  And what made it really bad was that I felt like everyone was doing well at it but me.  I was ashamed of myself.

I was coming out of that around the time that Lola turned 1.  But my self-criticism runs deep.  And by the time she was a two year old, and was starting to exhibit defiance and behavior problems, I was back to beating myself up on a regular basis about what I did wrong and how I must be failing my kid.

But recently, it’s slowly been seeping into my brain- I’m a good mom!  It only took 3+ years and 2 kids for me to start feeling this way.  And it’s fragile still.  I can’t be sure that I won’t be easily sent back to anxious feelings of failure as the next difficult stage arises.  But right now?  Right now I think my kids are fiercely loved and they are happy and they have yet to land themselves in prison.  And I put a LOT of effort and thought into that!  Into this whole child-rearing business.  And thus, I’m a good mom.  And I want to tell all the mothers out there, new and otherwise, who are questioning themselves.  Who are feeling imperfect and overwhelmed and are being bombarded with the idea that everyone ELSE is doing a good job.  I want to convince them:  YOU ARE A GOOD MOMMA!!!  Do you care for your child to the best of your ability?  Do you make their needs a priority over your own selfishness at least a LOT of the time? Then you’re a good mom!

It’s a beautiful and a terrifying thing to be a parent.  Suffocating too.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with so much love it pours out of your tear ducts.  And sometimes you wind up feeling so drained that you just want to give up.  And when you wander wearily through the endlessness of motherhood without a map, please know that you’re not alone.  That I’m doing those same things wrong.  And a bunch of other things too! And so are all those other women who are too insecure right now to admit it.  And it doesn’t make any of us bad people or bad moms.  There is no yardstick to measure up against.  Let’s stop trying to create one.

(this one was for Danielle.  my first ever blog follower.)

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115 thoughts on “STOP pretending to be the perfect mom!

  1. Awesome post!
    I try to be honest, but I think I sometimes paint a rosy picture just because I am afraid of being too negative an turning people off… the truth is, I am a complainer by nature. I could easily write an entire blog of just bitching about the little things that annoy me all day, haha. I think that fear of being judged is what makes a lot of people dishonest, even though it perpetuates the whole vicious cycle of thinking that everyone is doing a better job than you because everyone is LYING THEIR ASSES OFF. 🙂

    • I talk mostly about the good stuff here one my blog. Because that’s the stuff I’m going to want to look back on and remember. And because there is SOOO much good stuff. It usually outweighs the bad by a mile.
      But I try (and will continue to try harder) to be honest with other mothers when the discussions come up. About all the things I do that are not in line with the perfect painted picture of motherhood. And look! My kids are fine!

  2. Oh, Stephi. I love honesty. I agree it is very damaging to never talk about the opposite side of being perfect. We all have things we wish we could do better, and wouldn’t it help so much if we all talked about them? Thank you for sharing.

  3. I love this. It’s all so true, and something that I’ve thought about. There’s no perfect way to parent and it’s always going to be different for everyone. I wish there would be less judgement in motherhood so that it would be easier for moms to feel confident about their choices.

    I hope that I don’t come across as one of these un-honest moms–I do cloth diaper, and do things pretty naturally, but a lot of that comes from my fantasies of living a more simple, almost old-fashioned, and less stressful lifestyle, and even to save money–personal reasons for me, not the perfect way.

    The educational toys, playgroups, and mommy-and-me classes have always bothered me. I don’t think that they’re necessary, or that you’re a bad mom if you don’t participate. But it seems like so many moms believe that the more you can teach your kids, and the earlier, the better. I’m not a bad mom for not doing these things, and neither are the moms that choose to.

    • I worried a little that moms who are just doing the best they can, and sharing the joys, would feel lilke this was an attack on them.
      Not. At. All!
      I love to read your posts about how you’re working toward acheiving your dream life with your family. I love to hear when ANYONE is feeling successful as a parent.
      My beef is with people who present an image that is not entirely true in an effort to SEEM like they are doing it all RIGHT. KWIM?

      • No worries, I certainly didn’t feel attacked 🙂 And I completely agree with everything that you mentioned. I LOVE how you’re so honest, and I’m sure that if I could hear your trucker-mouth it would make me laugh. You’re just really awesome.

      • You know what, as I was reading this I totally KNEW you were going to worry about that because I was thinking of what I’d be thinking had I written the post. I feel most of us can take it for what it is. As with many things, the GOOD parts of mommyhood are ALWAYS talked about, so sometimes we need a post like this. I didn’t feel attacked, it actually made me think…sometimes even when I am posting about something I’ve done wrong, I am too afraid to say what I’ve REALLY done wrong. I wish we talked to each other more about our imperfections. And I didn’t feel you were saying you don’t love motherhood, either. You put yourself out there, you’re a blogger. =) It’s all love.

  4. I’d like to think I’m an honest mom! At work I’m also the mom who has confirmed every non-mom in their decision to remain childless! It can be damn hard to be a good mom and we do no favors by hiding that fact!

    • I have a coworker who tells me ALL THE TIME after I talk about parenthood, “that’s it, I’m never having kids!” LOL, I hope I don’t really scare people off it, because what’s harder to talk about in a believable way is how WORTH IT it all is. 🙂

  5. Amen Sista!
    I quit trying to hold up some facade of perfectness a long time ago. If you come to my house, it WILL be a mess. And one, if not all, of my three kids will probably be naked at some point during your visit. We’ll be doing good if none of then decide to defecate or urinate in the house. Since it’s nice out now, they usually manage to roam outside to do it. So we’ve got that going for us.

    People ask me how I get so much stuff done. Short answer? I ignore my kids. Seriously. How else does one accomplish anything? They can play by themselves and fend for themselves. Even the not quite two year old can find her own snacks most of the time.

    I agree people need to just let themselves be what they are. No apologies. A friend of mine was supposed to do a half marathon this weekend. It got rain delayed and the rest of her running partners canceled due to the weather. When another friend asked her how the race went she said “Oh, I’m a loser” and went on to explain the situation. And she was serious. What causes women to put themselves down in this way?

    Let’s just learn to accept ourselves and others for who they are! I gave birth in a hospital with an epidural. My friend home birthed both of her children. Neither one of us is better than the other! The goal is a healthy baby and there are many paths to achieve it. And be proud of the path we took! I’m so happy she got to have the birth she wanted. And she is happy I got to do things my way too. Isn’t that what we need to focus on?

    Why is it that moms can take any type of parenting and find a way to ascribe a negative value upon ourselves? One person tries to eat mostly organic. Does that mean I’m a bad mom because I don’t? What drives us to constantly make this sorts of judgements against ourselves? It needs to stop.

    • Agreed, it’s certainly not just moms. So many women do this (yea, me too).

      Personally I avoid watching competition shows, ‘reality’ tv…. no America’s Next Top Model for me!! I tend to have an easier time not putting myself down when I’m not filling my brain with those comparison-reinforcements. Of course, this practice is Everywhere. But I can whittle it down a little, at least.

      Loved what you had to share (and everyone else’s too). 🙂

  6. Every little piece of this is true and it’s amazing and I wanted to thank you. I discovered your blog through soapfie’s nomination of your blog…which I found through sillyliss’s about page comments, but I digress! It’s nap time, I’m allowed to read. 😀
    This was so amazing and full of truth and happy that I would like to offer you my very first ever award. Ever.

    This is kind of a big deal to me, but if you don’t want it that’s fine. I’ll only cry a little bit. There aren’t any rules yet, it’s just a big giant badge of awesomeness. I really needed to read what you wrote. Thanks. 😀

    • So cool!! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to quit breastfeeding and actually BE coffe powered! Thats my new plan for how to accomplish everything without falling asleep in my sandwich at lunch. 😉

      • As soon as Kira was down to nursing every three or fours hours, I would have a nice, hot coffee right after her morning feeding. My body had three hours to process the caffeine, and if it for some reason affected her then, she would be past any sleeping time anyway! Of course, I love my coffee, and I *had* to do something for me – between the two of them I was only getting four hours of sleep each night. Eep!

      • Oh, I would totallly drink coffee while nursing! Except I’ve never been a coffee drinker, and I have in my head that it’s okay if you were doing it BEFORE, but probably not best to START at this time. Plus, my kid is super fussy/sensitive tummy/bad sleeper.
        Honestly, I drink so much diet snapple these days that I probably could be mainlining the coffee. 😛

      • Hahahahaha! 😀 That’s great! I’m glad you’re doing what’s best for you. So many people (myself included, *gulp*) feel the need to defend or rationalize their decisions. After I read your post I just feel like saying “Yeah, well, that’s what I do, and I like it.” 😀 😀

  7. Awesome!!! I have always felt this way. When new mommies start boasting about how much they love being a new mom, I do an inner eye roll and vow not to rain on their parade. They will too come to it in their own time. An article I read months ago said “Motherhood sucks 99.9% of the time” and its TRUE!!! It does suck. its only that.1% that makes it worth it.

  8. Thank you, I know I am good mom(most of the time), but it makes me feel great to know the things that I do that I feel guilty about others are.doing the same and feel the same about them I sincerely thank you for putting this out there

  9. Love this. While I can’t relate to your list in its entirety, I have plenty more I could add. Booooo on all those “perfect moms” 🙂

      • Me and a few girlfriends have a private fb page called worst mom’s group. we confess the embarrassing/funny/lousy things that happen to every mom. like the time last week I feel asleep on the couch and my 3 year old raided the freezer and ate an entire box of family size ice cream sandwiches. yup, all 18.

      • My DH has wacky hours and a tendency to snooze while with our 3 yr old. She often “paints” things that shouldn’t be painted with stuff that is DEFNITELY not paint! eek.

  10. Thank you.
    I have this sinking in the gut feeling every time I do something for my daughter that is (or isn’t) the norm that I am sending her straight to therapy for life. It is like everything about motherhood is a competition and we are all running for some invisible finish line to be be the best. If we don’t perceive ourselves as the best, we lie or trip up our opponents with some ridiculous discussion about being a stay-at-home parent vs. working parent or keeping our children technology free.

    We should all be walking this journey together as parents, not pushing each other down on the playground.

    • That was so well written! And I totally agree. I dont totally escape the urge to be competetive either. But I try HARD. Lately I find that if someone is being a jerk and making do this thing I hate, this “oh yeah, well MY kid does THIS!” thing. I just decide not to talk with that person about motherhood anymore. Done!

  11. Cakesy, I love this. I (and all the other girls) have always known that you have a penchant for writing. Thank you so much for being so brave and sharing this with us. ❤

  12. Thank you for writing the truth. When people ask me how pregnancy or the infant years were, I politly say, “Do you want the truth or the lie. The truth will send you running but the lie will make you say your oohhss and awwws.” I swear I get the stranges looks.

    • LOL. Of course all the good stuff makes it worth it. I don’t feel the need to tell someone all the shitty stuff every time. But I’m usually willing to admit my shortcomings.

  13. So, what if you’re a mom who really DOES love being a mom? and really DOES think that it’s a good thing MOST of the time? Am I gonna get booed? I can relate to some of what you said. I have never pretended to be the perfect mom, but I have always felt that I’m a good mom. (Well, almost always.) It’s pointless to compare yourself to others, anyway; that’s very self-destructive.

    I am proud of the children I raised. They are my highest achievement. But you know what? My personal statistic for what it was like for ME raising my 3 children back in the 80s and 90s and part of the new millenium is that it was good or great probably 75% of the time. And that is my honest feeling about being a mom. However, I am not in the throes of motherhood right now, so it’s probably easier for me to be positive with my memories. I also didn’t have children with mental, emotional, or physical handicaps. I never had to experience trying to raise a child with behavioral issues. Plus, I didn’t have to be out in the work force, either. I could concentrate on motherhood because I was a stay-at-home mom. And for all that I am SO extremely grateful; that kind of thing has become so common-place nowadays, that having children without some sort of behavioral issues is a rarity anymore. I am so extremely grateful because I am afraid I would not have handled it very well. I both feel for and admire those parents who deal with it to the best of their ability. I sincerely applaud them.

    I truly do love being a mom (and a grandmom), and I really did enjoy raising and teaching my children during their growing-up years. And now I see what a good job my kids are doing with their own children, and I can’t help but feel proud of myself that I am part of the reason for that. I hope more moms learn to feel that way, too, if they don’t already.

    • I’m so glad you wrote this, I was a little afraid of things being misconstrued, and I want to clarify.
      I think the VAST majority of moms love being a mom. I don’t think anyone needs to say that it sucks or something to be an honest mom. (I mean, PARTS of it suck for everyone though, right? Maybe not, but that’s been my experience.)
      What I wanted to get at here was just the DISHONESTY about how great at it you are. I’m CERTAIN that for every example I give above, there are a million moms who really DO that and ARE that good at that. But some of them are just lying to make themselves look better. And that’s super shitty. And even those moms who do feed their kid a super perfect, healthy diet- they aren’t better moms because of it! And they probably are not so hot at something else.

      I wrote this really quickly and without much editing or anything due to a tragedy I experienced recently. After SOO many people read it, I started to wish I had taken more time. I hope I didn’t give the impression that loving motherhood and feeling good about your successes makes you a lying bitch or something.

    • I liked your point about how it is easier to be positive when your looking back, and I agree 100% with this! When looking back at the first few weeks of having baby #2 home I remember how sweet baby #1 was and how helpful my family was. I’ve forgotten about the lack of sleep, far too many days between showers and the weeks I spent alone isolated from adult life – but who wants to remember that part anyway?! I like struggling through the bad crap and then relishing/remembering the good parts for the rest of my life!!

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this, for telling the truth!!! I was in tears reading through this. It’s as if you were inside my head.

      • I sure needed this today! I have 3 kids under 4 & sometimes find myself not wanting to go out grocery shopping just to avoid the “perfect moms” I’ll be running into. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. Thank you Thank you!!!

  15. Yeah, it’s sad whenever people lie about ANYthing just to make themselves look better. It’s sad because they don’t feel good about themselves. I’m glad you were able to get to that point of feeling that you’re a good mom. I really didn’t misunderstand your point of view. I knew what you meant; I was JK about the “getting booed” part. I’m flattered that you personally replied to what I said, though.

  16. Stephanie, thank you, what you address here is so true, and so much my life! I try not to throw myself a pity party on the days that are too emotionally draining, because I, of course, choose to have children; but there are days, it is just toooooooo much! I am also too critical of myself in many aspects, and it is hard for my husband to understand this. And the anxiety is so overwhleming sometimes, it’s hard to cope. So, a sincere thank you, and hug! ….To a no-melt-down, no children-swearing, no through-the-roof-anger-day! 🙂

    • There really are days that it IS too much. I hope on those days you’re able to get some help. Or at least that youre able to gut it out until the kids are in bed and you can have a glass of wine.
      So sorry youre in the overwhelmed/anxious cycle right now. And I know what you mean about the husband. Even the ones who REALLY TRY can’t possibly understand. For me, even when my husband was willing to help, I was so far in my anxiety that just ASKING for that help (from my HUSBAND!) made me feel like a failure. Hopefully youre better than me at asking for help.
      Hope today’s a good day for you, and that if its not, you know that it was okay anyway!

  17. One of the best things I did for myself was to admit to myself and my doctor that I was depressed and needed help I’m in therapy and on “happy meds” and the change is astonishing. Please talk to your doctor about motherhood. My doctor has 2 kids of her own and is so supportive.

    • So glad you were able to get the help you needd. I remember when I was in the worst of it after Lola, and when I finally recognized that I needed help, i was too ashamed to call a therapist or anything. Looking back, that was uncalled for. But at the time, I felt ashamed of myself for not feeling perfect.

      • Yeah, yesterday was not a good day but as I told Scott last night – I didn’t cry and I was able to take care of stuff. Premeds, I’d have been a basketcase and nothing would have gotten done.

  18. I wish that people would have warned me about the effect on my partner’s and I’s relationship. Coming from a large family I understood the baby is a 24-7 gig and nothing ever goes as planned (regardless of what the “perfect” mom was saying), but I did not realize how hard it is to keep a romantic relationship with my husband and not become business like and no one warned me! “Here is zeb, its your turn” etc…. We talk about the family, and you and the baby, but I feel like we gloss over ME and Me and my husband aspect…

    • yes! It’s been even harder after the second baby for my husband and I to connect. Thank God we love each other to pieces, because some days, that’s all we’re going on.

  19. OMG… THANK YOU for writing this! I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time. And I have SAID to other moms that “I don’t think it’s okay, but I UNDERSTAND how it happens that people shake their babies” – and they looked at me like I was the f’in devil. I mean… I’m not gonna lie… Parenthood is hard. It sucks. Do I love my kids? Absolutely! Am I doing everything “perfect” NO! And that is Okay! I beat myself up with guilt because I am going to school full-time and during finals week, I have barely seen my two boys. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Moms need to stop competing!

    • Oh man, back in school with kids is BRUTAL! I wish I would have listened more to my parents when they told me that before I had kids. I’ll be back in school again next year, I hope, and I”m scared. Hang in there!

  20. I LOVE this. I’m not even a mom yet, but some of our friends have recently had children and this is exactly how I feel about the way they talk. Because they are not honest enough and it drives me crazy!

    • Well, partly people try not to bore others with the bad stuff, too. It’s funny though, to feel the need to impress people who don’t even have kids and thus, you aren’t competing against for Perfect Motherhood.

  21. I really really needed to read this today! I am so glad that you are willing (and able) to put what you’re REALLY feeling and hit the “publish” button. I always write it, to make myself feel better, and then never hit the button because I’m surrounded by all “THOSE” moms who make it look so easy to be perfect that I’m scared what would happen to my “friend” circle if I said how I really feel. You are a blessing in my life today, StephiCakes, and I only just found you through a random FB friend….today, of all days. Thank the Lord for you.

  22. What a wonderful reminder. As a SAHM I’m lucky to have friends with whom I can “be real” as we navigate our children’s early years together. I loved when you said, “And when you wander wearily through the endlessness of motherhood without a map, please know that you’re not alone.” But I first read the word “nap” instead of “map”. I had it all figured out when I could nap w/ my oldest. But when our 2nd arrived and the oldest quit taking naps, I was lost! LOL
    Thanks for the perspective.

    • LOL on the nap thing!! I think a nap would be a more useful addition to my life than a map most of the time anyway!
      So glad you’ve got some good mom friends to be real with. I’m lucky to have that too.

  23. Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed the part about yelling at your kids. That sounds bad, but it made me feel better. I’ve yelled at my kids like that too. It made me feel horrible. And the only person I ever told was my husband, because I was so ashamed. I thought no mother would ever yell at their kids like that except the kinds of mothers who get their kids taken away because of their crazy actions. So it was such a relief to know that I’m not the only one who didn’t just yell, but screamed at her kids. It makes me feel bad afterward, but I KNOW I’m trying hard to be a good mom.

    • I am ashamed that I did that, too. I actually try really hard to never yell at them at all, and usually succeed. But I’ve snapped. I’m not proud or saying it’s good, but I really wanted others to know they’re not alone.

  24. “I’m a good mom.” My oldest is 16, my youngest 10…and I’m still trying to remember this. I struggled with PPD and then depression for over seven years and still struggle against self-destructive thoughts. (I’m a bad mom. I’ve ruined my kids. etc.)

    I (still) yell at my kids, sometimes over things I shouldn’t, but I reach the end of my rope and so yelling happens before I can control myself. But then I apologize for losing control of my temper and we talk about how to handle stress, anger, and other emotions.

    I curse in front of my kids. But I also talk with them about how to use words appropriately.

    We eat a lot of junk food and watch too many movies and play video games for hours. But we also eat salads, talk about organic food, and go the library every other Saturday and spend long afternoons reading. (Seriously my kids come home with armloads of books, but then so do I.)

    My goal as a mom, as a parent, is to teach them how to live, how to laugh, how to think, and most importantly how to love others and themselves. Everything else is just the extraneous trappings of society and modern life.

    I had to teach myself that I don’t have to be perfect because then my kids will think they have to be perfect, and they don’t. I don’t want them to deal with the depression and anxiety that comes with such self-destructive thinking. I do want them to learn how to deal with being human and all they messiness and emotional chaos that involves.

    This is a good post and I’m glad to see it. Thank you.

    • Sounds like youre really doing some great stuff with your kids. Sorry for the tough times you’ve had to get through, and glad your kids have someone who’s trying so hard to do right by them! 🙂

  25. Thank you for sharing this!!!!!
    I have one 9 year old son, a messy house, 2 feet tall grass and late night dinner’s in front of the TV…… I’m not proud of it & I often don’t like people to come to my home cuz I’m so embarrassed. But I also have a lot of great memories!!!!! I don’t spend time being “Super Mom” with a perfect home, but I try to spend what spare time I do have enjoying my son & husband!!! And that is something I don’t feel bad about. It’s not perfect, but it is the “perfect us” that we enjoy being.

    So thank you, for saying it out loud & giving us the courage to do the same. 🙂

    • OMG, my house is sooo messy a lot of the time too. I too would rather do something fun than clean most of the time. I agree that what works for YOUR family is what’s important.

  26. All I have to say is “Thank you!” and I know I will be sharing this with other moms.
    I am a mom. I love my kids and they make me proud when someone tells me how wonderful they are (yeah, it happens!) but I don’t take all the credit.
    I have teens now, and a special needs son that DRAINS ME but I still make time for ME because if I don’t put my oxygen mask on then being dead helps nobody.
    KWIM?
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for reading and sharing. 🙂
      I’m also so proud when my kids behave well and whatnot. Even though I know it’s not totally my doing. We gotta take the praise where we can get it!

  27. I’m going to be a new mom in 2 months. I REALLY needed to hear this. And not only do we need to stop trying to live up to being “perfect mom’s” we need to stop trying to live up to society’s idea of the perfect woman.

  28. Thank you! I will be having a baby in 2 months and really needed to hear this. I love a girl who can just speak the truth. Not only do we need to stop trying to live up to being the “perfect mom”, but we (me especially) need to learn to stop trying to live up to society’s idea of the “perfect woman”. I’m over it!! Thanks again!!

    • Agreed! Especially since society’s idea of a perfect woman is really nothing that any woman I know would want to be anyway. Congrats on your impending littlw one. 🙂

  29. I commend you for such an honest (and hilarious) testimonial, Stephanie! Good for you for telling it like it is. Thank you so much for sharing! You made my day and made this “imperfect” Mom feel much better. All the best, Sarah – mom of 5-year-old Matheus and 9-month-old Anna.

  30. I seriously can’t believe the timing on this. I have a six-year-old and a 7-month-old and I have been feeling at the end of my rope this week. And then someone shared this on my Facebook wall, likely due to my status update last night that I was overwhelmed and feeling like a crappy parent. You cannot imagine the difference it made for me, not simply the post, but the dozens of comments from mothers who feel overwhelmed and tired and like crappy parents sometimes, too. Deep down, I know I am always doing the best I can for my kids, and if the big one has a cruddy week at school (like she is this week) and the little one will drift off idyllically to sleep for everyone except me (like she’s doing this week), it doesn’t make me a terrible mother. So thank you for being honest and for encouraging everyone to be honest. Parenthood shouldn’t be a competition. It should be a team. I wish more people could see that and help each other along the path. You all have sure helped me.

  31. FANTASTIC post. Your friend Emma directed me here after reading something I wrote on my blog about the Time magazine cover. Anyway, you did a great job here. I spend a lot (A LOT) of time on my blog talking about how women need to be more honest with each other, with themselves, etc. about how hard this gig is because otherwise we are just hurting people. I am thinking of starting a club. Want to join?
    http://www.thedoseofreality.com/2012/04/17/you-want-a-real-mommy-war/

  32. It’s funny to me how you are encouraging me to be more honest when my family has been encouraging me to do the opposite. I would try to be honest when they would ask me questions like, “don’t you want to watch your daughter?” or “don’t you miss your daughter” and i would say, you know what, i’ve seen her almost all day long every day since she’s been born, i don’t miss you because i’d like a break. And they would scold me saying things like “uhh! love your daughter!” Their comments made me feel mad and guilty. Mad because they implied i didn’t love my daughter and guilty because they made me think, “oh gosh, don’t i love my daughter?” Unfortunately family (or my family at least) can be rather damaging in addition to our own voices as well. Anyway, thank you for the encouraging post. It made me feel better.

    • correction: “I don’t miss *HER* because i’d like a break.” (i wasn’t talking to her directly, i was talking to my mother who was watching her–she was only 6 months old at the time anyway. ^.^ lol).

    • Family has a special way of hurting us the most sometimes. Hugs to you. I work full time, sadly, so I don’t often deal with this particular issue, but I can still relate to needing a break! I get that at work, lol.

  33. Thank-you so much. God, honesty is so healing. iT is Mother’s day and I needed this. My daughter is 7, and adopted. I do all the things you are honest about too. When you adopt a child and wait so long for her. the guilt is worse because you think “I waited so long and now I’m an asshole to this little person.” But I am a good-enough mother. And I wish we could all be more honest too. The more I share with others my flaws, the more they share their humanity. We all need to humble up. (One of my all time faves I said to my daughter, at the age of 3, was: “If you shut the fuck up, I’ll give you a piece of candy.”)

    • LOL! I was going along pretty well trying to emulate perfect mother mode when my first was a baby. I’ll never forget the first time I heard come out of my mouth: “if you can’t behave yourself, you’re not going to get any candy!” I had SWORN that I would NEVER use candy and stuff as rewards, etc. Ha! Now I use whatever works, and MANY times, that’s sweets.

  34. Nice to hear someone being honest! I try to be honest as well. I also beat myself up about the things I am doing wrong and how it will imapct my kids. I have realized that I am not perfect and I give my kids so much love that all will be good in the end. We all have bad days. The mother’s that try to make it look perfect are the ones that are doing a much worse job because they are in denial 🙂 We have all had those days where we want to throw our children we just don’t. I don’t even bother comparing my kids to other kids because if we were all meant to be the same how boring that would be! I am a stay at home mom and when I get out I actually feel bad because I don’t really miss my kids..lol I get to see them enough! Good luck on your lifetime of parenting! We all have so many adventures ahead of us!

  35. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This post could not have come at a better time for me. (And many others, I am sure)

  36. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this very honest blog post. I was relating to it all the way through, especially about the screaming at your babies part. I was guilty of that a couple of times when my son was really little. I still struggle with guilt over it. I was so stressed out because he would just scream and scream when I would try to nurse him. He wasn’t getting enough so that was probably very frustrating for him. And the whole nursing experience (which I quit completely after he was 4 months) was the epitome of frustration for me and the epitome of guilt after I stopped. We all make mistakes, we all do things we regret but that’s LIFE. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world so we really need to cut ourselves some slack. Thanks again for this post, it’s nice to know there’s someone out there willing to admit they aren’t perfect. 🙂

  37. AMEN…thank you for this! I have never been a perfect mother nor will I ever be, but I know I am an awesome mom in all the right ways 🙂

  38. You are amazing for saying this (out loud!!) and I can’t thank you enough for this post. THANK YOU for helping me to feel more confident. THANK YOU for reminding me that I am not worthless and absent because I’m a working mom and can’t stay at home every day. This is such an important lesson.

  39. I read this at 5:15p with my 1 1/2 & 3 yr olds STILL in pajamas (me too) and eating cheese and Sun Chips for dinner, and I have to say I feel ok with it after reading this post! ha Really though, it is so nice to hear from other mothers that tell it like it is. Thanks for making me feel like I am a good Mom…for today atleast :0)

  40. The biggest lie when I first become a mother – that breast feeding was perfectly natural – and that was it. No one told me how painful it was! I was in agony for the first two weeks. I went on to breast feed for a year but now I am sure to tell all soon to be mothers the truth! Great post 🙂

  41. I so appreciate this post. I’m a SAHM of three, one of which has ADHD, one of whom is disabled and a 7 month old baby. I feel judged so often, not just by strangers (who’s kids are “perfect”) but also by family…. I needed to read that it wasn’t just me!

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