WOW, isn’t that such a bold statement? It’s almost hard to read, and even harder to write. Yet it intrigues you, right? You want to know why I’m a bad mother, or maybe you want to relate to me, possibly use my reasons to validate the moments that you yourself feel like you’re a bad mother. What does it even mean to be a bad mother? How bad are we talking? So many questions. So many.
My daughter just went back to school this week and so much is going on – with her and me, both individually and together. She’s approaching double digits and discovering so many things about herself, some with and without my help. But this post isn’t about her, it’s about me and I thought it would be easier to write. Man was I wrong.
I am a working mum (a working single mum for just over 8 years), and man oh man can life be rough. I’ve been trying to study part-time for the past 5 years and I’m barely halfway through my degree. During this time I’ve gone through break-ups and make-ups, changed jobs, bought my first car, moved cities, broken down, cried like a baby, screamed into my pillow, started and stopped gym, started and stopped a healthy diet, been absolutely alone for the first time in my whole life, picked up the pieces only to throw them back down again, met the most amazing people, realised how shitty existing people in my life were, was convinced I was depressed, cried some more, all while being a mother.
It has been almost 10 years since I became a mother and I still cry in my car. I still rush to the Quickstop at the garage on some mornings because I didn’t wake up early enough to pack lunch or I forgot to buy bread. I still rely on the Drive-Thru at McD’s for the odd weekday supper. I forget to sign her homework diary and check her homework. Sometimes I let her watch cartoons because I need to use the bathroom as an escape. I use the “because I’m your mother” line way too much as a reason for instructions. I don’t pray with her every single night, and sometimes I’m too tired to say goodnight. I compromise on the portion sizes of vegetables at dinner time. I shout far too much, I’m upset far too much. I expect her to know things, to do things a certain way, act a certain way, without giving her proper instructions. I’ve shooshed her while scrolling through social media. I’ve only read one book on parenting, and I’ve only just finished it. Sometimes I assume she is wrong before she’s even had a chance to complete her story. I am a hypocrite. I am condescending. I am dismissive. I am unreasonable.
But this kid is my life. She is my literal translation of love, which I could never put into words. She challenges my entire being without even realising it. She can fear me and not give two hoots all in the same moment. She is not just my responsibility, she is my privilege. And whilst I spent an entire paragraph complaining about my shortcomings as a mother, I am trying. I am trying to do better at being consistent, packing in a good lunch and putting down good dinners. I’ve set up a system at home, put up reminder posters, to-do lists, downloaded her curriculum for the year, I’m reading to her, having more discussions with her, listening to her. I’m doing my research, preparing way in advance for the week, I’m waking up earlier. Do I have it all figured out? No way! We still have our little fights, she still rolls her eyes at me, mumbles as she storms off, I still follow her and give her the “You don’t walk away from me when I’m talking to you” bit, but at the end of the night, I still tell her that I love her. But more than telling her, I aim to show her. If that means me telling her she can’t have a 3rd brownie because it’s almost dinner time, hey, thats how I love her. And man do I love her.
Being a mother is literally a full time job, and as soon as my hubby wins the Lottery, it will be! But until then, I will continue this rat race we call life. I will snooze my alarm at least 3 times before darting out of the bed and showering in what seems like a fast forward setting. I will still be unreasonable at times and undeservingly lenient at other times. I probably will forget something about school and she will probably attempt to raise her voice at me. She will continue to push me away and I will continue to embrace her tightly. I will still give her forehead kisses and shout that I love her when I drop her off at school – way too loud than is deemed “cool” for a big kid. I will treat her like a big girl sometimes and as a baby for others. I will defend her, always. I will have awkward conversations with her about boys, and listen to her complain about mean girls. I will answer her awkward questions about my life and try to protect her innocent mind for as long as is humanly possible. She will still team up with my hubby and make fun of my singing. I will still shout, I will still nag. I will still brush through her hair, and in between her whining, I will still look at her perfect face in the mirror and tell her how beautiful she is. She will doubt me sometimes, I will still keep going. She will question me a lot and I will give her the best answers I possibly can. I will exaggerate her pains almost as much as she does, and I will make them better. She will grow up and leave one day and it will break my heart. But I will have faith in knowing that as parents, we have prepared her for this life.
So yes I’m a bad mother. I feel like a bad mother. I forget sometimes, I get it wrong sometimes and sometimes I don’t even realise it. I compare myself to other mothers. I convince myself that I could never measure up. But I am still a mother. I have to keep my daughter safe while still allowing her to grow up. I work my ass off to ensure that she is getting a good education. I go to every single event, and I cheer her on embarrassingly loud. I love her – hard. We mind who she is around, what she watches or listens to, but more importantly, we make her understand why she shouldn’t, so when she is put in a precarious situation, she is able to make the right decisions. Are we always going to be able to protect her? Probably not. Are we expecting her to never make bad decisions? Heck no. But when she comes back – and she will, will we be there to hold her, wipe her tears away and start over? You bet your ass we will. Because I am her mother. And she will never forget that.