"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Monday, June 13, 2011

You're a Terrible Mother

Yes, you. You are a very bad mother. You're still figuring things out. You've made mistakes. You've lost your patience. You've yelled. You've spanked.

Therefore, you are a terrible mother.

You didn't breastfeed. You did breastfeed. You breastfed too long. You home school. You public school. You vaccinate. You opt out. You use cloth diapers. You use disposable diapers. You use no diapers. You do things differently than me.

Clearly, you are a terrible mother.

I recently watched yet another online forum implode, in part because someone asked for advice and subsequently got her feelings hurt when she didn't like the advice given to her. She cried that everyone was making her out to be a bad mother, sides were taken, and BOOM. Another perfectly lovely community unraveled like the waistband on an old pair of underwear.

This is not unique of course. Everyone who's ever been part of a moms group in any fashion (but particularly on the internet) has seen it happen and again and again and again. People feel challenged. They feel judged. They get defensive. They want to blame the people around them.

"How dare she think I'm a bad mother!!"

But the fact of the matter is, she probably doesn't. And if you didn't already think it about yourself, chances are you wouldn't be projecting it onto her either. If you feel confident and peaceful about your own decisions, why would what anyone else says bother you anyway?

When I read something that challenges me as a parent, something that makes me react strongly in some way... whether in anger, hurt feelings, or defensiveness... I know that it's something I need to examine and respond to in myself, not to the messenger. Maybe it's something I know deep down that I need to work on. Maybe it's made me think about something in an entirely new light. Maybe it's struck a nerve on one of my own deep-seated regrets or insecurities. Maybe it's simply reminded me of my own mistakes.

None of the above makes me a bad mother.

And it doesn't make you one either. Self deprecation helps no one... not you, and certainly not your children. If something you read (here, or anywhere) strikes a nerve, ask yourself why. Made a mistake? Move past it. Need to make changes? Make them. Don't use your own guilt or frustration or insecurities as an excuse not to ask yourself the hard questions, or as an excuse not to do better.

Make choices intelligently, and make choices consciously... both of which are something a terrible mother - if such a thing existed - would never do.

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