Am I a Bad Mother?

Every single mother has asked herself this question at some point. Fathers, too, I’m sure.
Whether our kids got hurt, or we missed something we shouldn’t have, or they fall into the wrong crowd, or they don’t meet our standards for grades, or aspirations, or significant others, we think it eventually: am I a bad mother?
Sure, the notion has crossed my mind a few times. O is by far the worst child to take to a restaurant. A few weeks ago, as I was watching a fettuccini noodle fall slowly from the top of a window inside Bravo, I thought, “where did I go wrong here?”
A few months ago, O was sitting on the arm of the couch and I was overcome with a vision of her falling and snapping her neck. So, I reached out for her ankles to pull her down and instead swept her feet out from under her and she banged her head against the arm so hard, I swear I heard something come lose in her head. (Maybe that explains the noodle throwing?) Anyway, as I rocked her and kissed her head, I thought, “A good mom would’ve thought before she did that. You idiot.”
However, recently, this thought was so prevalent in my mind that I actually asked it out loud. Not to her father, or my mother, not even a neighbor. I asked the cashier at CVS if I was a bad mom.
About half an hour before this, O was sitting in the sink while I cleaned up the bathroom. It’s her morning ritual. She brushes her teeth, kisses her reflection and plays in the sink. For some reason-and I don’t know the reason, because if you’re just joining us, I’m a bad mom-she decided to turn the faucet to the other end and BAM she’s scalded and shaking and screaming. The next few minutes is just a blur of cold water, ice and Neosporin mixed with sobbing and also she cried, too.
I was right there! Why was she playing in the sink in the first place? Why do we even have sinks? Shouldn’t I know that they’re just an accident waiting to happen? I had half a mind to through every sink we have in the house out in the trash, right next to all of the couch’s armrests.
So there I was, standing in front of the CVS cashier, my baby girl in my arms, face full of snot and completely sockless despite the inch of snow on the ground. I was dodging looks and replaying the incident in my head over and over again.
The cashier rang me up for the burn spray and pop tart (stress food) and I looked at her and asked, “Am I a bad mother?” I explained what had happened and showed her O’s red feet.
“No,” she said, smiling. “I have three kids. You’re only at the beginning. I’ve been through burns, open wounds, stitches, broken bones…It happens.”
These little creatures were so much easier to keep safe when they were in our stomachs. While it sounds so nice to keep them in a bubble and away from anything fun, the reality is they’re going to get hurt.
So when the guilt goes away and her burns heal up, I’ll realize she’s right.
I’ll recognize that I actually am a good mother, and I’m only at the beginning of accidents, bad decisions and noodle chucking.
I’ll also probably re-install the sinks. The dishes are beginning to smell.

3 thoughts on “Am I a Bad Mother?

  1. That cashier is a wonderful person– and it is what you needed right then. I too have tried to help my little one and instead caused her pain, and I too have not been quite quick enough when attempting to stop her from doing something. It is human nature, and we do what we can. You will be just fine. 🙂

  2. It’s true, we cannot prevent everything. I’ve always felt like people were silently judging me for every bump and bruise they see on my kids. But I don’t think it really matters too much what they think. The truth is I was slightly judging myself. I’m still learning to forgive myself for not being perfect, for just being good enough, and my oldest is 15! But it does get easier.

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