Today, someone wrote me that my kids have problems because I’m a bad role model. Oh, and that the five-year-old reports that I yell at him every day. I know. You’re stunned. Not. I mean, I blog about being a bad parent and my ongoing fails because all parenting is on the job training. If I were training on the job at Arby’s I’d probably be on the news for having left part of my finger in someone’s sandwich (the latter of which, by the way, has happened twice in the last few weeks). Unfortunately for my kids, their young lives are the equivalent of finding a body part in their meat.
I’m totally a horrible role model. I am overweight. I’m out of shape. I swear. I don’t read enough books. I spend too much time on social media and not enough time playing Monopoly. I abhor Legos like nature abhors a vacuum. I leave my kids with the babysitter so I can go to the market, alone. I am cranky when I’m woken up and crabby in traffic. I do not love my kids when it’s after nine p.m. or before six a.m. I have a chronic illness that leaves me knocked out for days each month and not at my best. I don’t enforce bathtime every night. I let them have ice cream for breakfast sometimes. I haven’t started formal chores or allowances. I wrote down the wrong date for my older son’s big school presentation, so he missed it and had to do it another day. Sometimes the dogs eat more expensive food from a can than my kids do (Spaghettio-s go on sale, our dog food rarely does).
And, hey, I’m an easy target for kid hate. I enforce the wearing of the theraputic eye patch. I am the cutter of nails and the nagger. I am the forcer of the nightly retainer wearing and the shot receiving at the doctor. I am the quizzer of spelling words and taskmaster of school projects. I limit their access to TV shows, movies and music of certain ratings, even if their friends are allowed.
The five-year-old flipped his shit this week and told me that I ruined his life every…single…day. On purpose. Want to know why? Because I bought him shorts that touch his knees. Oh, and he only now wears superhero shirts at home, not as preschoool. “Ugh! Why don’t you know that,” he queried, exasperated. The seven-year-old accused me of not loving him and thinking he was a bad person. Because I got mad at him and lost my patience. When he farted on me. On purpose. Yes, I’m evil. Who doesn’t delight in that?
I also know that I have not ever missed a baseball game. I have never missed attending a kid performance. I volunteer at their schools regularly. I make costumes and bake snacks. I am home when they get home from school. I am available to go pick them up when they’re sick or hurt, take them to the doctor and nurse them through it (even if I am desperate for them to get well so I can have some time to myself again). I organize after school activities and playdates. I enforce their commitments.
Because of me my kids listen to everything from Queen to Elvis to Bruno Mars. We sing in the car. We go on memory-making adventures that aren’t expensive or extravagant but are full of fun and silly. We snuggle. We have inside jokes that make us hysterical with laughter. I can’t buy their love, but I can earn it, dammit. Sure they hate me. Hell, I hate them too. But I also get told things like these:
- You’re the best mom ever.
- You’re doing the best you can and that’s really good.
- I’m thankful that you were team mom.
- Thanks for my birthday party.
- I’m so excited you’re coming to school.
- Thanks for coming to all my games.
- Thanks for finding all those great books for me.
They’ve also seen a mom who had had a really sucky year and done the best she can. They have not seen me crumple into a useless mass of depression or neediness. They’ve seen me forge ahead as best I can into unknown territory. They have seen me try. They have seen me keep trying. They’ve heard me apologize countless times. They’ve heard me admit that I make mistakes. They’ve seen me make them and learn from them. They’ve seen me start to get back into shape. They’ve seen me be there for them.
So, sure, I’m a bad role model. I’m also a human. And an amateur parent in the grand scheme of things. Eight years into a career and no one is often considered an expert in all areas. Most jobs you get to specialize in something. Kids change every single day. I am too. But I am doing the best I know how and the best I can for the two people I love most in the world and who know that. If that makes me a bad role model, then I am damn proud to be one. Bring it.