are you human / or a dud?

Silly Facebook. I posted this list last night and have received several interesting and heartfelt responses – including gratitude (I also likely made a few people feel smug at how un-awesome I am). I was encouraged to share here. So I will!

I was debating compiling a list of, “25 Things That Make Me Feel Like a Bad Parent”. But it’s different to be “mom”. WAY more judgment entailed in the label / identity of “mom”, so when that word is leveled against me it’s nuanced differently than “parent” – most moms understand what I’m saying here. I do hope some dads fill this out as I’d love to see their lists.

So, I am going to write things I feel bad about. Some, pretty bad. Some, only 1% bad. Don’t be reading into how “bad” I feel because maybe it’s not all that much. Or maybe it’s WAY more than you’d think. Oh, and I’m not going to write anything that sounds “bad” that I am secretly smug about, because that is gross.

25 Things That Make Me Feel Like a Bad Mom

1. Pretty much any time my kids talk to me I respond with, “What? No, pick that up.” or “Wash your hands”. I am truly inspired by gentle parents who listen to their kids fully first, instead of barking out orders at them all the time.

2. I completely expect (and receive) full household support from my partner. You know, I think other mamas have been threatened by, jealous of, or annoyed by my egalitarian household and the lip service I sometimes devote to it. Suddenly I’ll feel like I *expect too much* out of my man, which makes me sometimes feel more like a bad wife than a mom. But you know what, fuck it, this is how I roll.

3. I let my kids dress themselves and sometimes they look tres-shabby AND I allow this to make me wish I’d dressed them in tidy clothes – despite the fact I want to feel groovy with their autonomy.

4. Sometimes I think a good portion of the reason I’m a stay-at-home-mom is because I’m so irritated with how many people demean it and put it down.

5. I give my kids so very much freedom in so many ways, especially their manners. In public sometimes they will be running down the aisle, or talking loudly in a restaurant. Half of me thinks, Oh shit my kids should behave better, but the predominant part of me is completely content to talk to them about their behavior later, and suffer the glares from grownups in the moment.

6. At home when they are driving me crazy, I yell at and spank my kids.

7. My kids have cavities and I can’t figure it out. The dentist says we’re doing everything right (but then I am so guilt-laden I will think he and the staff are being pantywaisted or lying to make me feel better!). I vacillate between knowing it’s awesome I take them to a good pediatric dentist, and “knowing” somehow I am the World’s Shittiest Mother for having kids with cavities.

8. I can get annoyed easily with other people’s kids.

9. Out of every family I have ever met, my kids have the absolute fewest toys. OK, on one hand I know this is the right choice for me. On the other hand sometimes I feel like other mommies judge my ass (which means on some level I must feel guilty?)!

10. I don’t advocate for fairness for my kids if they get in some scrap. They can handle it.

11. Even though I am creative and sew, bake, etc, I do not put together cute little crafty shit with my kids. Why, I don’t know. I do know, because in the thirty minutes it takes to put it all together they’d have torn apart some OTHER thing I’d have to clean up. Jeez I am getting pissed just writing this out.

12. My kids run around outside in their underwear (we live along a highway) and I truly just think the world should deal with it.

13. When my first child was young I was competitive and judgy about her clothes / manners / development level as compared to other babies. It was like a (thankfully temporary) insanity. I hate to remember what it felt like in my head.

14. I bake with white flour and sugar and yes my family loves it.

15. Sometimes I get this glimmer and feel glad my children are so slim (and not “fat”). I almost hate to write this, because I know this is so wrong of me. I am actively working on it though (thank you Kate Harding and co. at Shapely Prose…)

16. I smoke.

17. I get annoyed with bathroom talk / fart talk (theirs) even though I know I shouldn’t.

18. I still sometimes do Time Outs. Although I think they are dumb, and I am just being lazy when I do it.

19. I am sweeter to my youngest than my oldest. Working on it, people! As I type this I realize I am a crappy excuse for a human being.

20. I let my kids flat-out ask for things (sleepover at Grandma’s, a quarter from strangers, etc.) without “managing” them or stopping them. Again, usually I just talk to them about it later.

21. I don’t care if my kids eat one hundred million cookies, or a full pint of ice cream (as long as they eat some dinner first).

22. I let my kids watch scary movies with me. They can handle it.

23. I send my kids out with my husband to do errands so I can have some time to myself. Yes, I know this is not “wrong” – but I still feel like a “bad mom” when I do this. That is f*sked up!

24. When we go to a park I don’t play with them, not much anyway. Hey, I’m awesome that I took them to a park!

25. I honestly, when it comes down to it, am completely not offended if my kids swear.

4 y.o. NSFW

My husband and I haven’t been getting along. We’ve both been trying to get along. But, I guess we kind of love / slightly loathe one another. Not as cute as it sounds (only looks so in saccharine sitcoms). Today we had to have a talk in the driveway, sitting in the car as the windows steamed up, before we could proceed with our plan for the day without trying to kill one another (our murder weapons: eyerolls, tense silence, cutting remarks that likely sound harmless on the surface). The plan for the day ended up being an entirely civil and then, as it turned out, very fun family-bonding trip to Olympia and the Hands On Childrens Museum. So, to quote Plankton, “See? Everything works out.” Oh and let me also point out that our children sat quite patiently through our entire “discussion” (read = moderately tense with only a 1.5 rating on the Sarcasm O-Dick-a-Tron) and waited it out. I don’t know whether to be proud or chagrined.

One of the things we’re arguing about these days is Ralph’s relationship with our son. They aren’t really getting along, either, some of the time. The poor guy – by this I mean Ralph – has been on the receiving end of Nels’ verbal and occasional physical abuse. It sucks. Sucks for them both, sucks for me to witness.

And let me interrupt myself – guess what? I get a few emails and comments from blog-readers who seem to look up to my parenting skills or envy my family life. So how’s about this for awesome? This evening at the gas station Ralph deigns not to allow Nels to help him pump gas. Nels cries, is sad, pleads. I hop outside to talk to Ralph about something and see our son is working hard to roll down the window to address his father. Why, what could the little tyke possibly have to say? I wait with baited breath.

Window down. In pristine frustration he bellows: “Goddamnit, dad!”

He goes on but… I’m split precisely in half, completely dismayed for Ralph to be yelled at this way and (inside) also completely laughing at how perfectly, perfectly Nels is expressing himself. Oh yes, and about four hundred people heard this. And likely thought they were better than us.* So, I guess we do offer that service to the general public: the opportunity for onlookers to feel smug.

This evening at home Nels is mostly civil until Ralph puts his Legos away too soon. Nels waits, waits, waits outside the bathroom patiently. Circling like a sleek, studious little shark. When Ralph emerges he says calmly, “Dad? You’re an asshole.”

To quote Talladega Nights**, “Did that blow your mind? That just happened.”

I admit it: that one did shock me.

And not that it’s any of your business, but no, we adults in this household do not speak to one another this way (out loud anyway).

Hogabooms: house of malaise.

* Let me point out that in barfy mags like “Parenting” etc. stories like these are told but the kid always yells something “horrible” like, “fart” or “turd”. OOooooooh… and the eyerolls keep coming.

** The type of cinematic fare that, potentially, accounts for my son’s language? Can’t be quite conclusive. Still, between Will Ferrell comedies or a few years of Barney songs? I’ve made my choice.