Thursday, April 30, 2015

That time I was called a bad mom... (An Early Mother's Day Post)

"You need to fix this. You need to do something about your kid. You are a bad mom." 

These are the words I remember. I have no idea if these were the words actually said. They were definitely the words I heard. 

I don't know what day of the week it was. I don't know what I was wearing. I don't know what the weather was like outside. I just know that this is a morning that I will never forget. 

I was working full time outside the home and commuting to and from work. Brady was about 2 and in an in home daycare.

Brady was a biter.

He used biting as a way to communicate and deal with conflict. 

It was awful. I remember saying to Caleb one night, "I don't know how to do this. Its not like I get mad at you and start biting you. If that were the case maybe I could figure out what to do. Also, I am at work when the majority of the biting takes place. I just don't know what else to do." 

This particular day Brady had bit one little girl at daycare one too many times and her mother had had enough. So she decided to very clearly let me know what she thought of my son, his biting, my parenting ability, and the situation. 

I calmly(meaning I managed to keep from breaking down into a puddle of snot and tears until she left) listened to her case. I tried to validate her concerns and apologize for the umpteenth time. I tried to express our side and that we feel terrible that our little creation is causing harm to your little creation and we are trying to remedy the situation. It is just so hard to do 8 hours after the incident.

She wasn't amused nor did she care about our side. She wanted her precious baby to stop coming home with teeth marks, and rightly so. 

On top of the, er, conversation that had just unfolded, I was a hot mess AND I was late for work. Awesome. 

It was an ugly few days. 

I already felt an unbelievable amount of guilt from leaving my child with some else 5 days a week. I felt guilty for spending over an hour in the car each day away from him. I felt guilty for date nights. I felt guilty for spending time with friends. I felt guilty for the biting. I felt guilty for enjoying my work, my drive to work, and time with my husband. I felt guilt for being late to work. I felt guilty for thinking about being late when my child obviously needed me. I felt guilty for not being fully present at work. 

But most of all, I felt like a really, really bad mom. 

Every insecurity and fear I had in this motherhood journey, had just been vocalized by another mother. 

It took days before I agreed to pick up or drop off Brady at daycare. I was a mess. 

This stands as one of the worst moments of being a mom to date for me. This is still a story I reluctantly share. It will take loads of courage to publish this. 

It's a story I need to share, though. 

You see, I am not a bad mom. I am a good mom. I love my children. I just had a moment when I let someone else's words define my abilities. 

The thing is, though, bad moms they do exist. 

Let me be clear, IF you are reading this, YOU are likely NOT a bad mom. 

But they do exist. 

I have met them, maybe you have too. 

I have sat across from babies who have suffered seizures and brain damage because their mother sold their formula for drugs and only fed the infant tap water. 

I have watched a little girl with cigarette burns covering her arms play with my hair while counseling her Foster parent as she explains how the mother inflicted each wound.

I have listened to a young woman cry her eyes out because her own mother completely abandoned her and now she is becoming a mother and she is so afraid of becoming like her own mother. 

I have listened to a young mom un-apologetically admit to opening her bedroom door to multiple men while her child watched in the same room. 

I don't claim to be an expert or know all the details to these situations. My experience in this area is limited. Many of these situations are much more involved than an one sentence summary.
 However, my experience opened my world to parents who don't put the needs of their children first. Parents who aren't good parents.  

The good news is, good parents, they exist too. 

The only non-existent parent is the perfect parent. 

I don't want my children to look back and think wow my mom was perfect. (Trust me, they won't.) I do want them to look back and think my mom tried as hard as she could. I want them to see a woman, who faced hard, ugly days, but didn't give up. A woman who got up and did what she needed to do no matter what. A mom who loved them so much her love made her a little crazy. It made her doubt and second guess every single thing she said or did. It kept her up at night thinking of how she could have done today better. A love that makes her yell like a wild banshee at the t-ball field. 

I want them to see a mom who failed daily, but asked for forgiveness, extended and accepted lots of grace, and learned to be better and love greater the next time. 

I want them to remember a home filled with love and TONS of grace. Because, at the end of the day, that is what we all need, love and grace, parents and kids alike. 

And the great thing about grace is that those, bad moms, the ones who really are bad or the ones who have just had bad moments, grace can cover them too. They can turn things around and become one of the crazy, good moms too. 

I may not know you or your situation as a mom personally, but this is what I do know.
If you feel like you are screwing it up every single day and you sit awake wondering if you are doing it all okay, then you are likely one of the good ones. 

At the end of it all, that is what makes you a good one, the desire to do this job as well as possible, not a label, not a moment, not a decision, not a status. 

So as we approach Mother's Day lets embrace the imperfection of this role, lets join together and say I just want to have more good moments than ugly moments, and toss those unrealistic expectations and all the labels out the window.

 Lets wear the one label we truly love with pride and simply be Mom.

In honor of Mother's Day approaching, I am hosting a giveaway beginning tomorrow to celebrate the value of women and moms around the world. Stay tuned...


  1. "I want them to remember a home filled with love and TONS of grace. Because, at the end of the day, that is what we all need, love and grace, parents and kids alike." This is exactly it. If they get nothing else from me (like food they will eat or good naps), at the end of our days here, I know I've given my kids plenty of opportunity to see grace in action! Thanks for this, Amber!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am thankful my words could resonate with you today. Thanks for reading!

  2. Every mama should read this one. We do a hundred things right for the 3 things we do wrong every day. This job is hard. Real hard. Thanks for speaking life over us! #FTLcheers

    1. Kelly, Thank you! That is quite the compliment. I am very thankful for the FTL community.