Good mom, bad mom, mostly bad

We officially started TJ on cloth diapers this weekend. He has always battled crazy diaper rashes, red splotches of skin that appeared despite diaper changes, creams and oatmeal baths. In these hippie dippie diapers, there are no bouts of raw skin, just a butt size that has ballooned exponentially thanks to so much padding.

Nathan has been more tricky to attend to. He is my sweet boy that asks to me to read him, “Children Make Terrible Pets,” repeatedly because he imagines a world where bears and humans can co-exist. And what did I do to my baby? I yelled at him. Twice.

It was at a co-worker’s house, where my team at work had gathered with all 10 of our children. There was noise and toys and games and cheese pizza or lunch. It was going beautifully until someone threw a plastic ride-on toy down the stairs and without investigating who had done it, which my other co-worker said Nathan wasn’t responsible, I yelled at him, calling out his full name and chastising him for doing something so dangerous. Then as we were leaving, I carried TJ and three heavy bags to the car and Nathan ran out to the side of our car that faced the street. I called over the roof for him to move to the other side, my voice growing louder as he didn’t budge.

A car slowly passed and I performed the maternal feat of both yelling at him at the same time holding my breath that nothing terrible happens in those few moments. Of course nothing happened, but once again my defective mothering surfaced, a stunning example of a woman who doesn’t have it together and resorts to wide open-mouthed shouting to keep her child from being clipped by oncoming traffic.

At home, I can handle them both. I don’t mind reading books, cutting thr crusts off of sandwiches or choosing a shade of blue clothing that a four-year-old will not fight. I don’t mind cloth diapers–the ceremony of rinsing out pee and poop then the steps to wash, hang, dry. Yet outside my home, I become too aware of what my child isn’t doing, the thanks he isn’t giving, the number of times he asks for juice instead of water. I am in constant need of a time out. I work harder and harder for any semblance of effective parenting, stepping deeper and deeper into my own leavings of a crappy mom.

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  1. I think that if you can handle yourself when you’re home, that’s way more important than out and about. Moms get frazzled and worry about what other people think, but we forget that everyone else is frazzled and worrying about what we think of them. Your boys know you love them and you’re doing your best. That’s way more important than what your coworkers think.

  2. I think parenting in public is so so hard. I hate it. But Katie’s right — the way you are at home is so much more meaningful to your boys.

  3. You’re not a crappy mom. At all. Trust me, I know some crappy moms. (Not mine but people I grew up with who are now parents *shudder*) Parenting in public is probably one of the hardest things because other parents (well everyone really) is judging you for something. You didn’t do this or that or whatever and *they* would have done something different. They think that what they would’ve done is better but it’s not, it’s just different. And before this goes into a whole sociological discussion (that’s just what I get for reading blogs after class) I will once again say that you are not a crappy mom. You are an excellent mom and don’t ever forget it.

  4. Also: Look at the CUTE BABY! Ahem, I am really done now.

  5. Who hasn’t been there? Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.
    I stopped worrying a long time ago what onlookers might think when they cast a brief moment in time when I am “parenting” in public. My children are healthy, my children are happy and neither one of them needs a therapist (yet).
    And bulgy baby butt is the cutest thing EVA!!!

  6. Your child is a work in progress. If they behaved completely according to the etiquette book, they would be robots.
    A ride on toy goes down the stairs. Teaching moment. A mouth wiped on a sleeve, ditto. Love them completely and guide them well. Don’t sweat what others think of how the you are progressing. Your kids will get there. And they will get there at different rates.
    I have two completely different kids. Shy versus garrulous, cautious versus daring, mood reader versus oblivious. Love them and teach them and most of all enjoy it all:)

  7. Ian Hernandez says:

    Hey, don’t beat yourself up over that!

    As someone who grew up in the era of “bad 80’s parenting” where getting yelled at for doing something stupid or dangerous was the rule, not the exception (and we all turned out just fine, thank you very much), you are not “defective”. You are full of love and concern, and occasionally that may express itself in certain ways in public, and maybe bystanders will give you a disapproving look. Screw them for judging. They’re your kids and you do a good job with them.

    Happy Birthday!

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