Mirror Mirror on the Wall: I’m Totally Awesome

So yesterday I teased you with some research I’d done on moms. Let’s roll up our sleeves and talk about it a bit more. I’m totally channeling my inner-Oprah today…so emphasize certain words super dramatically when you read them and trust that I have my own list of favorite things that I’d love to give away…if someone would just send them to me already.

OK, so Pew Research announced some results back in 2008 that really disturbed me.  Here’s the cliff-notes version: When asked to self-score themselves as parents, on a scale of 1-10, a mere 28 percent of full-time working moms gave themselves a score of 9 or 10. 41 percent of part-time working moms gave themselves a 9 or 10 and 43 percent of at-home moms gave themselves a 9 or 10.

Why all the self-flagellation people? What good does that do anyone? Sure, I don’t know the full questions asked but let’s just presuppose the question was “Are you an awesome mom?” Why did almost 60% of part-time or at-home moms and almost 80% of full-time working moms declare themselves as NOT awesome?

What good is that doing anyone?

This is what I think an issue is – not the “mommy wars” (remember we are all totally bad talking about you if you go around trashing working or at-home moms). Why are mothers so damn hard on themselves? And let’s stop using cultural influences as crutches here – Oh, it’s my Catholic guilt, oh, it’s my Jewish mother guilt.

Please…as my dad would say…don’t buy a ticket on that bus.

In a moment of brutal honesty, I will tell you that I have plenty of nights where I lay there and seriously worry – was I too distracted today, should I have done that puzzle with her again, did I leave the TV on for too long, did I bark at them too many times – and on and on and on. This isn’t good. We could drive ourselves insane reflecting on and doubting every decision we make all day long while the sweet cherubs have visions of Popsicles and pizza and Halloween costumes dancing through their heads all night long.  And then roll yourself over when you are laying there fretting about the small stuff – what is your husband doing?

You think he's up all night worrying?

I thought so. Not a care in the world for old snore face.

So again – why the self-flagellation people? Why this quest for perfection? Why this insistence that we focus on all the areas that we fall short in the day instead of what we did that was super fun and awesome? How about all the stories you read for the 150th time, the lunches you lovingly packed, the 8th load of laundry you folded, the sweet frozen Trader Joes dinner you heated up? Why isn’t that all good enough?

I think that the quest for parenting perfection is laden with abuse, doubt and ultimately makes us worse parents, not better, because these kids can smell fear and insecurity and they know how to use it. It also enables you to be afraid of your kids because you are so worried about doing something wrong. Everyone responds better to confidence, kids, bosses and husbands included. Right? Am I Oprah or what?

I also think when we are riddled with doubt, we aren’t doing a good job of setting boundaries for ourselves.  So many women lack the confidence to say “No” when someone asks them to do something and the more we agree to other things, the more it chips away at the time we have for what’s making us insecure – which is most likely to be our work or our children. I’m a big believer in setting boundaries and not attaching guilt or doubt to them. Do I really need to volunteer on another committee at school? Do I actually need to attend that work event this week or won’t it go on just fine without me so I can get home and see my kids? Draw the lines and proudly stand by them, I say.

And so, in my quest to ban all mommy guilt and mommy wars from our dialogue, I challenge you to give yourselves 9s and 10s the next time Pew comes a calling. Instead of getting all tangled up in our short-comings, let’s realize we all have them, and instead be proud of the kids and how great they are turning out.  Tune in tomorrow for more totally fabulous work-life discussions and a little less Oprah.  In the mean time, what do you think? Would you have given yourself a score of 9 or 10? Are we too hard on ourselves?

4 Responses to Mirror Mirror on the Wall: I’m Totally Awesome
  1. Cristie Ritz King
    September 20, 2011 | 12:02 pm

    Perfection. Yeah, I’m talking to you. This is so well said. Have you read, Good Enough is the New Perfect? Awesome book chock full of all these kinds of goodies. Essentially saying the happiest moms were the ones who accepted the job they were doing as good enough.

  2. Sam Shepard
    September 20, 2011 | 1:22 pm

    No offense, but I KNOW I’m an awesome parent, I’m frickin’ the Spinal Tap of parents, I go to 11! I don’t need a book, a television show, a blog or a magazine article to tell me. My kids are DAMN lucky to grow up in a nice house, get three squares a day (plus organic cheddar bunny snacks!)and go to only the type of schools that affluent suburbs can provide. My worst day of parenting crushes the best day that most of the worlds’ children experience all year long. Guilt? Don’t know it and frankly don’t want it. Yes, I’m Homer Simpson but instead I’m reading the NY Times and watching Trollhunter!

  3. Bridget
    September 20, 2011 | 4:25 pm

    Amen, Monica! And you too, Sam, if you were being serious. I’m done feeling guilty, even when everything I do and every decision I make is for my kids. And I am a working mom.

  4. No Drama Mama
    September 20, 2011 | 5:08 pm

    I totally agree! Miss L is loved, fed, clothed, and given plenty of attention. I am an awesome mom. Even when I don’t brush her hair.

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