Parenting

Putting Mommy-Guilt to Rest

Today I’m feeling rather cranky and impatient with my little one. I put him down for a nap, laid on the couch, and replayed the day in my head. There were a number of things I felt crappy about. So, in order to indulge by bad mood, I made a mental list of all the things I did wrong that morning. To my surprise, my actions and words were not really that bad. Most of what I replayed where frustrating THOUGHTS I had had. About half of them were from some sort of judgmental inner-monologue that’s always expecting myself to keep up with those blogging Pinterest moms who do amazing art projects and always know just what to say and the other half of my thoughts were cranky things that I might think, but would never say out loud to my kid. Let’s be honest, haven’t we all thought “just stop talking!” (or worse) while our kids are babbling on when we really just want 5 seconds to be alone with our thoughts? So, I offer to you, a list of crappy things I did today, followed by the same list from a far healthier perspective:1. Yesterday Dylan didn’t take a nap at daycare. We came home and played in his pool for a couple hours then he was SO cranky that I had him lay on the couch and watch cartoons. He refused dinner and whined or screamed if we even looked at him the wrong way so I put his PJ’s on, turned on a Disney cartoon, and he was asleep in 10 minutes. It was 7:15. So I put him to bed with no dinner.

2. Today, Dylan woke up at 7 am because, well, he went to bed at 7 pm. I turned on Mickey’s Clubhouse and let him lay in bed and watch an hour of TV while I drifted in and out of conciousness because I did not go to bed at 7 pm.

3. When we got up, Dylan ate peanut butter and jelly toast for the 87th morning in a row. It’s the only thing he’ll eat for breakfast.

4. I was so excited that it wasn’t 1000 degrees in my house so I unloaded the dishwasher, made chicken stock, and brewed a big pot of coffee instead of changing Dylan’s diaper. I didn’t remember it until around 9:30. I felt like crap.

5. Dylan lined up all of his construction vehicles in the kitchen. I tripped over one, banged my knee on the counter, and yelled something like “Ow! Dylan, get those toys out of the kitchen!!!”

6. I suggested Dylan decorate one of his art projects (a little mailbox that we painted a couple days ago) with stickers we recently bought (thinking it would occupy him while I unloaded the dishwasher) then grumbled when he asked for help every 5 seconds.

7. We ran to the store to get a couple things and Dylan got it in his mind that we were buying a new motorcycle toy. When I informed him that we were not, he whined, cried, kicked, and yelled. I began to lose my patience.

8. Dylan recovered from his tantrum them proceeded to ask me 100 questions all with the follow-up question of “why?” as we made our way through the store I resorted to an annoyed “I don’t know” because I got sick of answering them. I officially lost my patience.

9. We stopped at the library to fax something. When I told Dylan we weren’t getting any new books (because we have a stack at home) he flopped on the floor and yelled, “But I want some, I want some, I want some!” I picked him up to leave, but still managed to see the stank eye given to me by the librarian.

10. For lunch, I served Dylan a piece of leftover pizza. It was homemade, but I did not include any fruits or veggies because I didn’t feel like getting any out and I just wanted to get to nap time. He asked me more “why” questions. I gave him more “I don’t know” answers.

11. I told Dylan it was nap time and he began to cry and ask for his dad. I said, “I wish dad was here too” in a less-than-pleasant-tone… then I felt crappy.

***So first, when I sat down to write this list I immediately thought, “oh, I guess there weren’t AS many horrible moments as I originally thought,” which I think is an important point. We dwell on a tantrum or a harsh word that we later feel guilty about, but in doing that we overlook the good pieces of the day. Here’s the same day with a different focus:

1. Last night Dylan had tons of fun playing (naked) in his pool. He’s getting so much more confident in the water and is fun to watch. It was hot this week and he was exhausted so he went to bed early. We all know toddlers have the weirdest eating pattern so I’m not going to lose sleep about the missed dinner, but make sure he eats a solid breakfast.

2. Sure it’s not ideal that he watched an hour of cartoons, but once we’re up, the TV is off all day long. In addition, it’s DVR’d so there aren’t commercials and it’s appropriate programming for his age.

3. For breakfast Dylan had peanut butter and jelly on toast. Sure he has it every morning, but I do buy whole grain bread with no HFCS, I use natural peanut butter, and homemade jelly. This meal provides fiber, whole grains, and protein. He also had a glass of white milk.

4. I did forget to change his diaper and that’s crappy, but he seems none the worse for wear. He’s never had diaper rash and he was happily playing so let it go.

5. I repeatedly tell him not to bring toys into the kitchen when I’m cooking. It was unfortunate that I scolded him, but me tripping over them, saying “ow,” and then reminding him of the rule was a natural learning lesson. And he did move them and apologize to me.

6. Even though I was annoyed that I kept having to stop what I was doing to help Dylan with the stickers, it was a good fine motor activity for him and I did keep most of my grumbling to myself. Sure I was shrugging on the inside, but on the outside I stayed pretty neutral. And when he was done he was so proud of himself. He even took it to bed with him for his nap!

7. I got nothin about the tantrum. It was a tantrum in the most classic sense: he wanted a toy, I said no, he cried. Even though I wanted to have my own tantrum, it did illicit a conversation about the difference between “need” and “want” and I did tell him that I understood why he was frustrated. Now, in my current reflective state, I remember a babycenter.com article about how toddlers wear their hearts on their sleeves. Haven’t we all wanted to kick, scream, or cry out of frustration or disappointment at some points in our lives? We don’t because we know better, but 3-year-olds don’t. In fact, I’m a little jealous of his freedom to let it all out!

8. The “why” questions are really cute when it’s someone else’s kid. Most of the time I give him real answers. In fact, we discuss density almost every time he’s in the pool because he asks me why things sink or float so often! Today I was frustrated and his “why?”s didn’t have easy answers so I took the easy way out. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll answer them in the future I’m sure and all will be fine with his academic development.

9. I know we don’t scream in a library, but toddlers don’t. That librarian could have noticed that I was saying, “Please don’t scream, people are reading,” while also REMOVING my son from the library. It’s not like I was just letting him flail…. we were leaving. Plus, it’s entirely possible the stank eye was a result of a crappy day on her end and I was just one more thing. It might not have been the personal attack I imagined it to be. Once he settled down in the car, we did talk about why we have to be quiet in libraries. Also, it was nearing nap time, he was tired, quite simply.

10. So his lunch lacked fruits and veggies. Well, there’s always dinner. I did make the pizza homemade (last night’s leftovers) and I did make a whole wheat crust, so there’s that. Also, the pizza had mushrooms on it and tomato sauce and those both count as vegetables. It also had ham so the meal wasn’t an entire loss. He had a juice box and it was the 100% real juice organic kind so I’m going to call that a serving of fruit and be done with it.

11. I always feel bad when I use a snappy, negative, or sarcastic tone with him.  All I can do is own it and try not to do it again. Can’t take it back, can’t undo it, might as well just try to fix it for the future. And P.S., in the moment, I wasn’t lying. I DID wish his dad was here!

On paper these things don’t seem that bad, but they were enough minor annoyances to put me in a fowl mood. While I don’t have time to write a reflective blog post everyday I do think there is something to be said for taking a minute to replay a day or situation and force yourself to look at it from a positive perpective. Even if you end up with “sure I wanted to scream ‘shut up’ at my child, but I didn’t.” In my book, that’s still a win!

My advice? Take a break from blogs and pinterest and instead make a list of things you do well as a parents.  I think we moms need to cut ourselves some slack. And at the end of the day, the very fact that you’re worried about if you’re a good parent, probably means that you are one! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Putting Mommy-Guilt to Rest

  1. Ha! We ALL have days like this.

    Early this week I enthusiastically asked the girls if they wanted to go the park after dinner. Of course it was a unanimous YES! but they wanted to walk, not ride in the stroller. Well, we walk around the cul de sac pretty regularly and they are really good about staying on the sidewalk. Had NO idea what I was getting myself into. We did well on the walk there, we played hard, we ran up and down the big hill 4 or 5 times. But when it came time to go home, I had one girl in the grass picking every single clover she could find, while the other girl was running home. Urg. I was yelling “STOP!” to J and “COMEON!” to V. Needless to say I was a grouch by the time we reached our house; which is only two blocks away. As soon as we got home told the girls I had to “pee” and “needed privacy” (my way of taking a few minutes to regroup and breath).

    Being a mom is hard….and some days overwhelming. I know that I would have a hard time being a full-time stay at home mom, I say it pretty regularly. I know that my own patience and appreciation of the girls mostly comes from the fact that I have 8 hours a day away from them. If I had it my way, I would work part-time, but right now that just isn’t possible.

  2. LOL – this reminds me of a time I was subbing in a kindergarten class and I was trying to bring them in from recess and they were all running opposite directions. I couldn't seem to wrangle more than 4-5 at a time and, seriously, I almost just collapsed on the ground and cried! I finally said, “I'm going inside with or without you!!” and then they panicked and ran in. Children… such delights! 🙂

  3. that was a good refreshing read. i enjoyed it. thanks. that is seriously my life. dwelling over every detail of the day. good to know other mom's nit pit the small things when it really is not a big deal in the big scheme of things.

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