When you're a mom, you flood social media with all of your proud mommy moments. The soccer goals. Those precious first steps and first words. Photos of beautiful homemade cookies that mom and child made. Not many of us are logging on to Facebook to say, "Guess what I gave my kid for dinner again tonight? A chocolate bar!" or "I screamed at my kid for no reason. I'm just premenstrual!" And sure, most of us aren't giving our kids chocolate bars for dinner or screaming at them all the time — I hope — but there's a tendency for mothers to try and keep up the appearance that we know what we're doing and always do it right rather than admit, "Guess what? I totally messed up today."
Sure, they might ask a question to their friends or parenting groups, but rarely will a mom openly say, "I have no idea what I am doing" or "I just messed up" without serious anguish over admitting this or whispering it in private. So in the spirit of setting a good example to start the New Year right, I'm listing some of those funny moments with my child that made me feel like, "Who gave me the license to raise a child?" Not the time I yelled at her because I was in a bad mood. That's just depressing. Not the time I slipped and she overheard me say that I wished Brad Pitt would violate me (can you blame me for wanting this?), but the humiliating moments in which I felt like the worst mom ever but could walk away later with a smile.
If we spent more time chuckling at our own expense, we'd be happier. It's time for moms to stop participating in the "Best Mom in the Universe" contest and start getting together to tell each other, "I've been there. It's OK. No one is perfect." It takes a village to raise a child, so expand your village and reach out to a mother you don't know well — or perhaps a new mom who's just getting on her feet in 2015. We can raise our kids alone and go on living as if we don't need anyone, but who wants to do that?
Pee-Pee on the Baby Jesus
My ex-husband and I are from two different religious and cultural backgrounds so my daughter celebrates both Christian and Jewish holidays. She's 3.5 and hasn't started asking me about "the man in the sky" yet, so when she mentioned the Baby Jesus at Christmas, I must have had a puzzled look on my face.
"What did you say?"
"Baby Jesus," she said.
"Oh, OK. Who taught you about Baby Jesus?"
She goes on to explain to me that her grandparents had explained why Jesus was in the manger. And then for whatever reason throughout the rest of the holiday season, she would randomly bring up Jesus's name except for she decided to add a few words to the mix!
"Pee-pee on the Baby Jesus! Poopie on the Baby Jesus!" she shouted amongst the Christmas decorations at Target. In Starbucks. Amongst company. At the Rockefeller Christmas tree.
People must have thought I was some "Christian-hating" woman. (I'm not!) It didn't matter how often I shushed her or told her we don't say that because it could offend people — she kept saying it and laughing too. Why? Well, because when she first mentioned Baby Jesus, I looked surprised. Kids pick up on these little cues and think that if it garners a reaction, it must be funny to say it. I learned to stop laughing, but man, it took serious practice for this stand-up-comedienne-turned-mother.
Note to self: Don't show a reaction. Have a poker face.
By the way, I've failed this mom lesson numerous times. See the next section.
Vagina, Vagina, Vagina
You may not agree, but I don't believe in calling female genitalia silly names like "hoo-ha" or some other name sounding like a cartoon-character buzzword or makeup applicator. It's a vagina. That part of your body did something powerful — well, really your uterus, cervix, etc. I don't want my daughter to think there's something to be embarrassed about when it comes to her body. I'm like your crunchy sex-ed teacher that told you to take a look at your genitals with a mirror — become one with your body.
Well, that's all fine and dandy, but while my daughter and I were eating at a family-owned restaurant this Summer, it wasn't so enlightening and "powerful" when she incorporated the word "vagina" into a Richard Marx song.
Right here waiting, right Richard? Heh-heh.
I suddenly wished I had called it a hoo-ha.
For a minute.
Note to self: What would my sex-education teacher think of me now?
She Flashed Her Boobies
Right before my daughter's third birthday, we took a trip out to Panera for lunch. It's our regular stomping ground. As we walked up to the register to make our order, my daughter lifts up her shirt and screams, "Boobies!"
"No," I commanded, embarrassed as hell.
"Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!"
All of Panera saw my daughter's "boobies."
Note: For the record, I would like to say she gets her boldness and sense of humor from her father.
Let me guess. You don't believe me. Case dismissed! Mom. Fail.
Christmas Lights Fail
I took my daughter to this supposedly, "big fancy schmancy" light show at a concert venue that ends with a visit to Santa, ice-skating, and holiday treats. Twenty percent of the lights didn't work, and my daughter was a critic throughout the first half of the show — not that I could blame her. It was a bit lame. Apparently the second half was more entertaining because she got into it. After the lights, we went to see Santa and get a hot chocolate. Well, imagine my surprise when I heard it was $10 to sit on Santa's lap, never mind buying a picture for an additional astronomical fee. She could go to the mall and sit on Santa for free.
Later on, I told her father, my ex-husband, the reason she didn't sit with Santa Claus at the lights show.
"It was $10 to sit on his lap. What? It's not like Santa was giving out lap dances!"
A day later, my kid shares with some of my friends that, "Santa does not give lap dances."
Note: Sometimes "Santa" does give out lap dances. If, of course, he's present at a bachelorette party. Not that I would know ANYTHING about that.
A Year in Summary
In case you're curious, I screwed up more than that. I think I bought her way too much chocolate (but never gave her a bar for dinner! I swear!), lost my patience more than I wanted to, got her late to dance class at least three times, and didn't volunteer to bring a snack for the Halloween party. Yup, that's me, the not-so-crafty mom whose daughter shouts vagina in public, admitting her flaws. But you know what? I (along with her father) got my kid through a divorce — and she's even rather happy — taught her the beauty of storytelling, how to share, what it means to be kind, the best songs from Broadway to the '80s, how to gift her daddy, and even how to make some cookies that don't look like a product of Chernobyl. I'm the best mom I can be, and damn it, I'm proud, flaws and all.