The Bad Mother? Having empathy for other mothers

We’ve all done it before.

Maybe we shook our finger silently while watching a mom with her children.

We’d never do what she did.

Maybe it was something we overheard. Something we saw.

Sometimes indeed, a mother just truly blows chunks and should have her license revoked—like the one mom I saw smoking and drinking at the park…blowing her cancer-causing agents near my toddler and living it up with her solo cup. But for the most part, as much as I think a lot of people are plain stupid, I feel women do try hard to be good mothers.

There was this one mother who attended a class that I went to with my daughter. She always complained about her kids–she has 4. She would say how annoying they were.

She really grated on my nerves, especially when she discouraged another mom from taking her daughter somewhere because it would be “too much work” essentially.

It didn’t help matters that I had a rough pregnancy and could only wish to survive having 3 additional kids, (truthfully I am not mentally cut out for 4 anyway, but it still made me mad) and that her husband refused to sing songs or do anything that wasn’t “macho” with his 2 year-old because apparently, he was too good to do that and gasp–maybe his son would end up gay from singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”


But as I have ventured into the world as a full-time worker, in addition to freelance work, my book, and comedy, I have found myself more empathetic for other moms.

Maybe that woman was just plain old tired. Maybe her husband never helped her.

Maybe her kids were really that annoying.

Maybe she just didn’t have anywhere to vent.

Today, I took my daughter to the park. She didn’t sleep much the night before, and she was tantruming all morning long. She was just so tired, but she refused to sleep. With me back in work, she’s gone from having one steady caregiver, to pulling 6am-7pm days between her house, school, and her grandparents’ homes. Her schedule has pulled a doozy on her, and it has affected her sleep at times. After trying to get her to sleep unsuccessfully, I brought her to the park.

As she drew with chalk, a little girl about a year younger than her approached her. I offered her some chalk, which simply allowed my daughter to unleash the Satan festering inside of her.

I think I saw Dante’s Inferno today.

She was defiant. Didn’t want to share. Almost hit the kid.

Simply put, she was a brat.

My kid is a great kid. I don’t just say that because she is my progeny, but because she is. She’s an angel at school, and has learned as an only child, how to share recently, thanks to school.

I apologized profusely to the mom. My daughter even hugged her and apologized, but I couldn’t help but feel like shit.

I couldn’t help but feel like a bad mom because Napoleon was throwing a shit-fit over having to share a piece of chalk. Why couldn’t I get my kid together? I knew she was tired, and I knew she had a reason to be upset at times with this child–she tried to draw on my kid’s drawing, and my daughter is very into art and her work already. Still though, I felt bad like here I was with my bratty kid…not being great representatives of our family.

I could almost feel the mom thinking, “Oh sure your kid is tired today. Oh sure, she’s great at school. Yup. I’m sure she’s nice…yeah right lady. I’m sure your work schedule really affects  her. Sure.”

You never know what kind of day a child has had. A mom.

You don’t know if she’s stressed. Alone. Ill-supported. Broke. Hungry. Tired.

Facing a divorce. Facing a job-loss.

Loss of a parent.

Health issue.

Foreclosure of her home.

You don’t really know what someone else’s life is like, until you are living it. And while some moms truly suck and should revoke their ovaries, many moms are doing their best.

For some moms, just getting the kids fed and clean is their best.

For others, a five-course meal is their best.

Try to approach another mom with the same-set of empathetic eyes you would like others to have when your kids are melting down, acting like terrors, or simply having a bad day.

Women really like to pick each other apart, simply because we are insecure people fighting for a smaller piece of the pie than men. We earn less, and often mean less, and therefore, we tend to scrutinize and fight for what we feel is ours.

It doesn’t help that we have created motherhood as some iconic status in which we are supposed to be the pinnacle of domesticity, femininity, as well as earn a solid paycheck. We ask ourselves to be everything, and therefore as we fight for this impossible status, we tear down others in the process.

Simply put, we need to be kinder to each other. It’s a lesson we try to teach our kids, and it’s one we need to go back to as adults.

Be kind to another mom today, and save your eye rolls for someone else.

A few indicators your toddler is happy. Hint: pinching nipples is one indicator

I always wonder if I am doing a good job or not as a parent.

Friends say to me, “Look, she’s very very happy, and clearly smart and healthy. You’re ok, kiddo.”

I would have to agree that I have a happy kid, but I figured I might as well qualify how I have decided she is happy, or partially like her mom, a little looney.

#1 Singing. Constantly.

My daughter sings to anyone. To herself. She will tell you not to sing, “That’s my song, mommy.”

She spent an hour and half car ride singing and reading her book to her stuffed animals.

She barely wanted me in the conversation. She didn’t mind when I talked to her, but she didn’t need me.

Mommy, I’m busy here, okay?

#2 Pinching Nipples

The other day after an hour attempt to find parking at the beach–ps., we live fifteen minutes away–  my daughter came home all wound up. She was sad at not being able to see the ocean, but after awhile, she began to play happily. An hour later, she pulls off her clothes, and starts running around, laughing, and…pinching her nipples.

“Stop pinching your nipples and put your clothes back on!”

I can’t believe that was even part of my daily “discipline.”

A happy child is a naked child?

#3 Thank you Mommy

Randomly, my daughter will thank me for taking her to places. Sometimes, they are places worth thanking me for like the park, beach, or a playdate.

Other times, she thanks me for taking her to the doctors…or to the food store in which we dodge a bunch of grouchy old people and women with their ta-ta’s hanging out, but not pretty ta-ta’s, in which case, that would be cool.

I either have a very happy, grateful child, or one who is so sick of being home inside with me that looking at a bunch of crazy people seems like fun to her.

#4 Forgiveness

Sometimes I lose my patience. When I do, I feel so guilty, like the worst piece of crap anyone has ever known.

“I’m sorry for making a bad choice and getting upset with you. Mommies make mistakes too. Can I have a hug and kiss?”

And each time, she does. Each time, she says with her displays of affection that she forgives me for being a little rotten that minute, just as I do for her.

Maybe I am not too shabby of a mother…today.

5 Signs the World is Ending, according to my Toddler

Nothing is worse than a toddler having a temper tantrum. Sure, you can argue that losing money, getting an STD, getting red wine all over a white blouse, or running a marathon in six inches heels might be worse, but a toddler meltdown is akin to what I imagine the second coming of Christ looks like to a holy roller.

#1 First Sign that the world is coming to an end…

Super Why’s Dog, “Woofster” will not be appearing on the episode.

Woofster is the single most retarded name I can think of to name a cartoon dog. It certainly isn’t memorable, and worse, his voice is irritating, but she loves the show and I think it’s cute…mostly, so we watch the show.

“Where’s Super Why’s doggie? Where is he?No!!!!”

My toddler crumples in her little seat in a dramatic gesture similar to ones made by Italian Grandmothers at funerals. I want to curse PBS and my DVR for giving me an episode without Wyatt’s famed new dog. I want to stamp my feet and scream because I just want to take a shower for a minute, possibly even shave my you-know-what’s, while she bathes in Boob Tube bliss. The absence of Woofster has made it so my shower is pierced with complaints.

#2 Second Sign the World is Ending: Her mother tells her what to do.

Doodlebug, take off your shoes please.

Mommy, take off my sweater. No sweater.

Okay, just take your shoes off first please.

No Mommy!

She flings herself into the cross position, and wails. She kicks her legs when I remind her that she knows how to take off her shoes, and cries even harder. She begins to hack slightly as if she might throw-up, trying to show me how serious she is about her feelings.

Suddenly, my adorable child turns red and speaks tongues close to the Hebrew language. I see the signs of stigmata. I wonder why I didn’t just shut my uterus down for business in the first place. I hide in the bathroom praying she won’t remind me of my sins.

She cries for what feels like forever, and then finally gives up. I take off her sweater.

#3 Signs the World is Ending, number 3:

No Cantaloupe

My daughter could eat about 4 whole cantaloupes a week, maybe more. I fear she will turn into a large round orange boulder of a girl, and she will have to wear colorful stickers to the prom, instead of a dress.

When the cantaloupe runs out, you better leave town or prepare yourself to listen to her lament and shriek.

“Cantaloupe Mommy! Cantaloupe!”

“But I don’t have anymore.”

“Daddy buy more Cantaloupe Mommy!”

This goes on until finally, she cries and repeatedly asks me for cantaloupe. My ears start to bleed, and I wish I had joined the circus instead of had a child.  I wish that all the cantaloupe would magically disappear, so then she could just fixate on another fruit instead.

#4 Fourth Sign that the End is Near:

Charlie Brown’s Mayflower Episode is gone

I have no idea how many ways she has asked me–maybe thirty different times?– but my daughter keeps asking me to show her the Charlie Brown Mayflower episode. I cannot stand it. It is boring as hell. I’m not watching it again, at least not until next Thanksgiving. I keep telling her the Mayflower has set sail…she keeps asking anyway, and searching through the DVD’s for the disc.

I am an evil mommy.

#5 Final Sign that the Second Coming is Near:

Can’t find her Tinkerbell Washcloth

“I want the Tinkerbell towel Mommy.”

“Okay, we will find it. Do you really need it now while you eat?”

Screams for this stupid little Tinkerbell rag ensue. I tell her TInkerbell doesn’t want to get dirty. Tinkerbell wants to stay in the bathroom where she belongs. I petition for Tinkerbell’s right to stay food-encrusted free.

What the hell is wrong with me?, I think. It’s a damn towel. Tinkerbell isn’t a real person.She doesn’t think. She doesn’t exist, minus in drawings and television/movies. Why is my daughter turning shades of fucshia over a silly washcloth? Will she throw up this time? (No)

She is a good girl, my little bug, but sometimes I feel I am living with a Neanderthal. I suspect one day she will be clobbering me over the head with a wooden club, and asking me to go hunt for some food. It’s part of toddlerhood, and a totally understandable phase, but sometimes when she starts to develop horns and speaks in an evil tongue, I wonder if she isn’t possessed somewhat.

But then I feel better, because I know she didn’t inherit that from me. She most likely inherited that from my mother-in-law. I’m only responsible for the bossiness.