Guilt of an Imperfect Mother
I am the perfect mother. I never raise my voice. I serve only nutritious meals and snacks. I read a stack of educational books every day, and I strictly prohibit all television viewing. I possess a limitless supply of patience, and I'm never tired. And I certainly don't indulge in time to myself because the children need my constant nurturing.
If you believe that, stick around for my Oscar acceptance speech.
Although I may sometimes wish to be that kind of mom, I'm well aware that I'm not. Quite frankly, anyone who says she is that kind of mom is either lying or has a nanny, nutritionist, chef, personal trainer, housekeeper, masseuse, and therapist on call 24 hours a day. Because I'm not that superior mom, I can't help but feel guilty for those nagging transgressions that keep me from attaining parental perfection, leaving me with the unenviable title: Imperfect Mother.
What Imperfect Mother’s guilt can I pile on myself? Let me count the ways.
I feel guilty for watching my 2-year-old daughter savor a spinach and feta filled hamburger, twice baked potato casserole, and mozzarella and tomato salad, while my 6-year-old son chokes down sauce-less meatballs and half a banana. How did I allow my son to develop such abysmal eating habits?
I feel guilty for focusing more attention on my daughter than on my son. I’d like to say she requires the majority of my attention because she’s younger and more dependent, but it’s partly because she’s just so naughty.
I feel guilty for the times I rely on the television as a baby-sitter. Hey, it’s the only sitter I can find that doesn’t charge by the hour!
I feel guilty for expecting stellar behavior at the grocery store. If I had to sit in a cart for an hour looking at food I wasn’t allowed to eat, I’d be cranky too.
I feel guilty for listening with only half an ear. I tend to forget that hidden amidst the weeded field of “he-hit-me, she-took-my-toy” rants blooms a garden of insight into my children’s psyches. I know that one day they won’t want to talk to me at all, so I should take advantage of their loose lips while I can.
I feel guilty for wishing time away. When my daughter attempts to flush an entire roll of toilet paper, I wish she were older so she could use the potty unsupervised. When my son spills milk all over the kitchen, I wish he were older so he could pour the milk himself (or at least clean up his own mess). I know I’ll regret trying to fast forward these moments I will miss when they are older.
I feel guilty for putting the kids to bed early because I am tired.
Sometimes I even feel guilty for feeling guilty because deep down I know that I’m the best imperfect mom I can be. And my children love me anyway.
Now that I got that off my chest, let me go cook up an organic snack while I read the kids an entire chapter book, lay down the newspaper for finger painting, make the rain stop so we can play outside, and squeeze in an effortless five-mile run all with a smile on my endlessly patient face of parenting perfection.