Did I really google “Am I a bad mother”?

We live in the age of internet searches. My son recently wanted to knit a scarf. He’s 3.5. It’s been so long since I knitted that I told him I couldn’t remember how. He bent his arms, pulled his elbows in towards his sides, opened his hands towards the ceiling and said, “actually, Mom, you can just google that.”

Yesterday, hiding inside from the 100 degree summer heat wave, after just returning from a play date, I found myself in one of those mother melt downs. My son had been difficult at the play date– I saw it coming. We went straight from school there, he didn’t eat a snack because he was too excited to sit still, and we stayed too long. So when things escalated– he had been getting louder, his body faster– and there was a full on melt down over an engine he wanted and therefore took, I discovered that I was no longer very capable at navagating the moment. Words, I knew would not help much; he was too far gone into that place I saw him going. Physical removal of the object would result in a tantrum, and I wanted to avoid that.

With sweat dripping down my legs despite the central AC, my 5 month old tied onto me way past his nap time, what I wanted was a mode of travel like that in Harry Potter, where you just jump into the flue network and are home. But I had to navigate the conflict, wait on the other family with the sleeping baby to leave (so my screaming 3.5 year old didn’t wake him) and then walk home in the heat. ( I forgot to add what I was carrying in addition to my 5 month old: a bouquet of flowers, a portfolio of a year’s worth of my son’s art, a lunch box, a back pack,  a plastic bag filled with a pair of slippers, crackers, and my son’s special self made “paper key chain” and my purse). I knew that if I had given my son time between school and the playdate; if he had eaten a snack; if I had gone home 30 minutes earlier, we would have made it out of there. But I wanted to stay in the cool, wanted to believe that we’d somehow avoid the patterned behavior I knew so well, wanted to imagine that I didn’t have to be the grown up.

Once home my son gleefully settled into play by himself in his tent. Relived, it seemed to have quiet. I got the 5 month old to sleep, sat down and found myself googling  “am I a bad mother?” After scanning the top hits for a moment, I stopped. Did I actually just do that? Am I now turning to the internet for reassurance that I am fit to be a mom?

I find that in parenting, I encounter the deepest roots of my own issues head on. Before I had children I think I might have seen parenting as easy; might have believed that enabling children to be pleasant well adjusted people was as simple as having the right intentions. I had no idea that I’d encounter my own insecurities head on every time we had a melt down. Like a bird who has spotted prey, I swoop down every time we go there: My son is acting out, then I must have done something wrong. If I had X, then, Y. Quite often it is true, the anaylisis. And yet, sometimes, too, I think my overthinking of these things creates more of a problem. Do I possess the capacity to just let things be what they are and move on?

If I could let go of the need to be a good mom, wouldn’t I be that much better?

What is amazing, is for me to realize that this is exactly the struggle I’ve lived inside of my whole life: how I am seen by others. And, now, with children, there are two mirrors that show me myself in another light, and that (god forbid) might show others too that imperfection lives in me and in my family! Did I just admit that? The striving and grasping towards perfection is harmful. And being a mother I see unequivocally how deep the roots of this infection are. The need to be perfect prevents me from being present in the moment.

It all reminds me to breath, return to center and start again. This moment. Each moment. On and on. Just like that.








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