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Are You a Bad Mommy?

January 8, 2013

by V.V. Denman | @vvdenman

FreeDigitalPhotos.net - David Castillo Dominici

“I’m sorry, but I’ve just gotta vent!”

When I see this online declaration, it’s usually followed by a description of a bad mommy sighting.

You know the mommies I’m talking about. They swarm Walmart, buying candy in response to a tantrum, spanking a tired toddler, ignoring a screaming preschooler.

These reports cause me to cringe because I understand the far-reaching damage, and a teensy part of me says, “I would never do that,” and I feel better about my own parenting skills.

Yeah, right.

Now the truth comes out.

Recently, a bad mommy sighting hit a little too close to home, and my pride rose like a dragon. I had done this particular crime. But not only had I done it, I didn’t necessarily regret it. Even though I don’t expect my friends to agree with every one of my parenting decisions, I was befuddled about how to handle the post.

Should I comment and start an online debate? Ick.
Should I send a private message? Ouch.
Should I simply ignore it?

.

I chose the last option, of course.

Little did I know my brain would keep churning, and I would experience not only dragon pride, but also doubt in my parenting. According to the online discussion (and if it’s on fb, it must be fact), good Christian mothers would never ever do something like that because it would warp their children indefinitely.

I recalled other bad mommy venting sessions I, myself, had participated in. The same type of affirming comments had made me feel good about myself, my children, my parenting. It had never occurred to me that any of my 958 facebook friends might feel otherwise. (I know. Duh.)

Then, in a flash I remembered:

I bought the candy. I spanked the toddler. I let the little dribblers scream. (It was them or me.)

No, I did not commit these crimes every time I left the house. In fact, almost never. But once is enough to haunt this insecure mother with regret, shame, and angst.

Now that I’ve come clean and admitted I’ve walked in the bad mommy shoes, I have to wonder how  many young mothers I’ve discouraged by participating in online venting sessions. How much insecurity have I thrown their way? I wish I could go back and re-comment.

If I could, I’d type this:

It’s the big picture that counts. Eighteen years of sacrifice make the difference, not a micro-event that a stranger might witness as a mother drags her urchins through the superstore in exhaustion.

But I can’t.

Greeeaaattt . . . now I have more guilt with which to torture myself.

Call it a New Year’s Resolution, but it’s time I change my tune. And my facebook habits. Instead of criticizing bad mommies (no matter how horrible they appear to be), I’ll do my best to encourage the mothers who stumble upon my posts.

After all, we’re all bad mommies sometimes.

vvdenman hug mommy

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. Matthew 7:1, The Message

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Photo Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net – David Castillo Dominici

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bryan Morgan permalink
    January 8, 2013 4:11 am

    are you really on line at 4 in the morn?

    ________________________________

  2. January 8, 2013 7:06 am

    “It’s the big picture that counts. Eighteen years of sacrifice make the difference, not a micro-event that a stranger might witness as a mother drags her urchins through the superstore in exhaustion.” LOVE this! It’s so true. But frankly it’s only “mommies” like us who have kids who have reached and passed this plateau that can see this. (Mostly.) To the ones in the throes of childhood, they still have the notion they have to do it all “right” for their kids to turn out good. Trouble is we never do it all right. And sometimes even when we do it mostly right, our kids choose to do wrong. I wish mommies would all give each other more grace and compassion instead of judgement! After all, when we witness those public displays, we really have no idea what the whole situation is. We just think we do.

    • January 8, 2013 2:15 pm

      Good point, Anne. We THINK we know the situation. When I think back to my own less-than-perfect scenarios, there was always something else going on that wouldn’t have been evident to a casual passerby. Life is just. so. hard.

  3. Stacy S. Jensen permalink
    January 8, 2013 11:55 pm

    I try not to worry too much about some of these things. I’m sick and I’ll probably let Dora entertain my son for a bit tomorrow, if I ever get any sleep. I try to use FB for good like asking questions on how other parents do a certain task or survived a period of toddlerhood.. I feel like if I called parents out all the time, I would be saying things like “Well, today I … ” You know, probably guilty as described. We visited Disney World last week and I picked up a lot of parenting tips there, including sympathy.

  4. January 13, 2013 4:12 pm

    I love this sentiment here: “It’s the big picture that counts. Eighteen years of sacrifice make the difference, not a micro-event that a stranger might witness as a mother drags her urchins through the superstore in exhaustion.”

    well said!

  5. January 23, 2013 10:29 pm

    “It’s the big picture that counts. Eighteen years of sacrifice make the difference, not a micro-event that a stranger might witness as a mother drags her urchins through the superstore in exhaustion.”

    It is the big picture that counts.

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