Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Had This List of Rules


I shot myself in the foot for years as a mother. I didn’t know I was doing it. It was as though I were running around crazy trying to be the best mom I could be while unknowingly firing arrows into the Achilles heel of my undoing.

I had this list of rules in my head.

You know…a good mom _______________. 
A bad mom...________________.

Sound vaguely familiar?

I work really hard not to pass judgment on others, but I spent a lot of time not only peering at the wooden plank in my eye but hammering nails in as I constructed a gargantuan tree house of lies, one mistaken truth impaling me at a time.

Here are some doosey misconceptions that made my list…
A good mom…has Band-Aids in her purse at all times.
A good mom…joins the PTO and attends every meeting.
A good mom…never has laundry stacked in piles that rival architectural wonders.
A good mom…doesn’t yell…ever.
A good mom…bakes realistic-looking animal and caricature cakes she found on Pinterest for her children’s birthday parties.

And then there’s the other pesky side of this list…
A bad mom…doesn’t know the lyrics to the shanty Sponge Bob Square Pants because why would she let her kids watch that show?
A bad mom…doesn’t stab herself in the finger, creating a blood-spurting hole while trying to separate Lego guy’s hair from his mini-Lego head with tweezers.
A bad mom…would never shove a bunch of pennies and loose change in an envelope when sending in money to her child’s class for end of the year teacher gifts.
A bad mom…wouldn’t be caught dead sprinting to slather coconut oil on a patch of psoriasis on her child’s leg, delaying the bus.
A bad mom…cannot for the life of her recount the names of the other students in her child’s class.

I had this list.

And if, by some fluke, I ever caught you doing or not doing one of the above, it might surprise you that I refrained from judgment. At least I didn’t judge in the way you’re thinking. I liked you—instantly. Inside I smiled because I just became a little more normal—more human. And you, in all your you-glory, helped me believe in grace again. Helped me to believe every time one of these tweezed out ideas flashed like a neon sign in my head that lists like these are pure malarkey.

I eventually found my way to the end of the list maze.

Know where I landed?

Here:
A good mom…loves her kids.
A bad mom…withholds love from her kids.

Want to know what I did with those other cockamamie lists?

I mixed the ingredients of a boxed Betty Crocker cake, baked it, shoved the little particles of good mom/bad mom thoughts between the spongy goodness, slapped some icing on the top, devoured the whole whopping ooey gooey cake pan, then I let it pass through me.

And now those lists are gone.

And I’m not about to go looking for them.


Have you ever done yourself a disservice by believing in a fabricated and skewed list as you tried to live well in a specific role in your life? 

22 comments:

  1. I only had one thing on my list when I became a mother: a good mom has well-behaved children. My firstborn pretty much blew that one up right away! But I spent several years wallowing in my "bad mom" status. Then, like you, I learned the truth--and I learned to love my child. I also learned not to put my identity in what my child(ren) did or didn't do. I've never been a perfect mom by any means, but I do think because my daughter made me face those questions early on, my kids would say I've been a good one.

    But what really strikes me is that it is essentially the same issue I grapple with as a writer. Where is my identity? In "doing it all right?" In book sales? Contracts? Marketing? I tend to have to continually fight making those "good author" lists to compare myself to now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that your kids say you've been a good mom! I can so see that! I also love that you drove home the heart of this post--how we wrestle with our identities...and how we are so quick to define ourselves by our roles, what we do, etc.

      Delete
  2. Love this, Wendy!! Ugh--I was such a moron before I had kids. I had to loosen up, let go, and laugh. I was so over the final days of school I could barely check my son's homework. I was like, "Yeah, just throw something together so you can at least turn it in."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny how having kids grows us up, isn't it?

      Delete
  3. This is wonderful, Wendy. I'm not a mom, but my sister is and we were just talking this weekend about a moment when she lost it with her son. And she was feeling guilty about it. And the conversation led into the fact that parenting is probably one of the most challenging things ever and when you grow up, what do you really remember? Whether your parents followed every parenting "rule?" Or whether they displayed with love and affection (in between losing it now and then!)? Definitely the love and affection thing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a great quote about how kids remember more about how you made them feel than all that was said and done. Another great quote about the way you look at your kids when they walk in the room leaving a great impact on their lives. Trying to remember these when I get caught up in all that other brainwash.

      Delete
  4. Oh, I love this, Wendy. Wish I'd have read it when I was a young mom! I'm going to send it to my daughter, who has three little munchkins and ten times as many rules in her head.

    Thanks so much for being authentic. I love you for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love you for this comment & I still can't figure why I have to pull your comments out of spam every so often (they are far from spam--invaluable to me).

      Delete
  5. Yeah, when my kiddo was a baby I had little mental lists going on--like a good mom HAD to make her own baby food, etc... I think I kind of threw myself into the stay-at-home mom role a little too hard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah & things like my kid will only eat vegetables...that is until they got introduced to potato chips. ;-)

      Delete
  6. Oh so many rules that morphed into a mental high bar that I was supposed to hurtle hundreds of times a day. I exhausted myself ... and sometimes I exhausted my kiddos. I finally took the high bar down. And then I've tried to catch myself when I started making other lists of rules to govern my life. It's not that I haven't done it. It's just been a little easier to tear them to shreds when I realize what I've done.

    Love, love this post, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always been hardest on myself. It's this funny little habit I have. ;-)

      Delete
  7. Thanks for making me feel like an awesome mom today, Wendy!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do what I can. Bet your kids would say you are an awesome mom!

      Delete
  8. I love coming here. Your writing and "realness" make me smile. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you love coming here. I also love that you receive my "realness" in that way.

      Delete
  9. Wow, I so needed to read this today. Thanks, Wendy! My worst bad mommy moment was when my son took some benzodiazapine at age 2 and we ended up taking him to the ER. I think the good thing about our bad mommy moments is they help us give grace more freely to other moms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me & Mr. Manning...it's a grace thing for us. Always has been. Always will be.

      Delete
  10. I love your new look on what a good mom/bad mom is. Perfect! Super encouraging post, Wendy! Big love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big LOVE back at ya! It's a wild ride. I figure if I keep going back to that word love I'll come through it okay. It's gotten me this far. ;-)

      Delete
  11. Ha, ha! I love this, Wendy. Just catching up on your blog as you can see. :)

    I so have this list some days. I think I should bake that cake, but I can't find boxed cakes in the land of homemade kuchen. Sheesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you should make a German chocolate cake! Just throw a bunch of ingredients together & call it a cake! :D

      Delete

Candid

My husband and I love to joke how in the 80s people didn’t care near as much what they looked like as they do today. Just watch 80s TV. H...