I’m confessing that out loud to you for one reason — I want (um, possibly even NEED) to know you have Lousy Mom days, too. You get the Lousy Mom Day, right? Those days when mom is a little more talk than action, a little more bark than bite? Days when the exhaustion moves in, smiles and says, “I’ll take it from here.” And the mom-guilt, which might have said “No way!” yesterday, is all about the “Yes, please” today.
A Lousy Mom Day is today, a day when I know with 100-percent surety that the kiddo is not in his room in time out, but for sanity’s sake, I’m just going to pretend he is. And even though I’m pretty sure I just heard something break, I’m going to stick to the time out story and keep on washing dishes as if all were bliss. Sure, to maintain appearances, I might yell out, “I hope you’re in your room!” or “A couple more minutes!” or something equally non-committal. Anything to fool that invisible mom who visits my house each day and judges my eligibility for the Moms Without Mistakes committee. You know that mom, right? She’s brutal.
Lousy Mom Days fly in the face of all I preach and believe about follow-through. Follow-through is EVERYTHING in this game, and EVERYONE knows NOT following through is a great way to ruin your child. I mean COMPLETELY, irrevocably ruin your child. At least that’s what Invisible Mom says. Sigh.
Before I had kids, I was ah. mazing. at pointing out a mom in the throes of a Lousy Mom Day. I saw lots of them at Target. Worn and weary soldiers, promising “just five more minutes” and threatening “if you do that one more time.” And inevitably five more minutes was really 10 more and one more time was actually five more. Follow-through fail. Tisk, tisk.
Yep, that was me, the incredible childless parenting expert. I observed, judged and silently added to my list of THINGS I WILL NEVER DO WHEN I BECOME A MOTHER. (By the way, that list also included no bribing, no-TV-watching and my all-time favorite no sugar-eating … ever.)
So here I am years later. A mom to two littles. Slightly worn and weary myself. Washing dishes while my 4-year-old watches Thomas … while eating a sugar cookie … that I bribed him with to get him to stop doing something I can’t really remember right now. And then there’s the 2-year-old who is supposed to be in time out for doing something I can’t really remember right now. I can hear his little voice spouting off something about Percy and cookies, pausing only to acknowledge the loud thud of something hitting the floor.
I pause, too, pretty sure “it” — whatever “it” may be — is broken. No screaming, so it’s not a child. No crash, so it’s not glass. I give the noise a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is no worries and 10 is ER. I continue to wash dishes, and ask Invisible Mom to go investigate, and while she’s at it, to put the 2-year-old back in his room.
Clearly this day is not going to earn me Mother of the Year.
Ok, this is the point where I am supposed to bring in some sort of inspiring life application or package everything up in a sweet paragraph dotted with “so worth its” and “you can do its.” But remember I’m the girl who just asked an invisible person to go check on her kids. So maybe not today?
Maybe I will just let today be today. And maybe I will breathe a little thank you that today is not every day. That Lousy Mom Days, though they do come, do not write my entire story of motherhood. And perhaps I will ask Invisible Mom to take the day off tomorrow. And I might ask Lousy Mom to do the same. But in this moment, I think I will just go with the dishes and the cookies and Thomas and Percy.
No, wait. Skip the dishes. I like the idea of TV and cookies better. And when I tell the 2-year-old time out is over, I will pretend I don’t hear him saying, “But I didn’t even go.” And I will step around the broken “it” on the floor, make believe the cookies are Stevia-sweetened and imagine Thomas is educational. Now we all feel as if we’re getting away with something. Score.
And maybe this day and this mom aren’t so lousy after all.