Saturday, July 3, 2010

Competitive bad mothering and other exercises in passive aggression

Lately I've noticed myself (and others) saying some weird, passive aggressive stuff.  For example, I have excused some of my recent parenting decisions by prefacing discussion of them with "Maybe I'm a bad mommy, but I...use bumper pads/allow my baby to sleep on his belly/allow the dog to lick the baby/...some other HEINOUS crime."  And I've noticed a lot of other moms do it too. 

Why do we do this?  One theory is that we're just trying to prove how awesome we are because we don't buy in to all the rules and hype and we are so SMRT and we're making our own decisions. 

Maybe we're trying to prove that we're just super cool and retro and are kicking parenting old school?

Are we trying to make other people feel guilty about the choices they make/don't make?  Or about things they're too uptight/too relaxed about?

Could we really be feeling guilty about some of the choices we make?  I know that deciding to get a little more serious about sleep training with my second baby was a tough choice for me.  I still feel conflicted about it to a point...although seeing how much more cheerful he is now that he's better rested is erasing those doubts.

I wonder if any of these might be the true reason, but I hope they aren't.  My preferred theory is that we are really really hoping someone will say "Oh, you're not a bad're a wonderful mom."  Which I think is something that none of us hear quite often enough.  Even if you hear it's not often enough.  No job is as fraught with self-doubt as this one.  And if you don't have doubts about who in their right mind qualified you to be in charge of a tiny life, then you should write a book or give classes or do a podcast or something.  Seriously.  You know something other people don't.

And you know what, it's so stupid to have these doubts and insecurities.  Because the kids don't know the difference.  You are always the best parent that kid could have (with criminal exceptions, of course).  Even Michael Jackson's kids remember him as an incredible dad...which he may have been, despite his wacko image.  He was the best dad they ever had anyway.

YOU are a wonderful mom.

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