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Monday, October 4, 2010

Mamas, Cut Yourself Some Slack

A darling little three year-old girl with curls in her hair and glittering shoes went running between two pews at the wedding rehearsal Friday night.

We'd been there for over an hour. She had already practiced her part as a flower girl three times and was getting tired, hungry, and bored.

My sil shook her head and said, "Everyone must think I'm the worst mom! I can't get her to sit still!"

We hear a lot about how we shouldn't judge each other as moms. That we never know what someone else is going through. That we could just be witnessing a really bad moment.

I'm all for that. Depending on when you see my boys, you could think that they are little angels or total demons. When the reality is that they are just your average little boys- they have their good, bad, ugly, and "average" moments.

I might even get up on my soapbox about not judging each other. I'm sure I've even done it on my blog. If I hadn't gotten in late last night after being out of town since Tuesday afternoon, I probably would even go searching for a link or two to prove this point. But, you'll just have to take my word for it that I am a firm believer in not judging.

Not judging others.

But, when it comes to my own kids, to my own parenting, oh, how I feel like a failure.

And judge myself for it.

For things that I would never judge your kids or you for.

Because I'm hard on myself.

At my brother's wedding reception Saturday night, Cub(2), was dancing his little heart out on the dance floor.

I stepped away for a minute to help my oldest at the cookie table, so that he did not eat his way through the whole thing.

Soon, another mom was carrying a sobbing Cub to me and told me that her son(7) had knocked him over and stepped on him on the dance floor.

She was very apologetic. And honestly, I probably wouldn't even think twice about this and wouldn't be blogging about it now if Cub hadn't been so upset that his sobbing turned into puking and he puked right down the front of my dress, forcing us to leave the reception.

But, aside from that.... I wasn't upset that Cub had been knocked over and stepped on. It was most likely an accident. All the kids were dancing together. Even if he was pushed on purpose- well, kids don't know the best way to deal with situations and so sometimes, things like that happen.

What I realized is that I didn't think badly about that child for what happened and I didn't think badly about his mom.

Really, if it hadn't been for the puking incident, this wouldn't even be in my mind at all.

But, if the situation were reversed and it had been my child who had knocked another one over and stepped on him...I would feel awful. I would have a hard time letting it go. Every time that I thought about my brother's wedding, I would cringe and think oh, that poor little one that my son hurt.

I'd feel like I'd done something wrong as a mom. That I'm a bad mom.

But.... if I don't think those things about that mom....shouldn't I cut myself some slack?

Shouldn't we all cut ourselves some slack?

We gave birth to little humans, not to little robots.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not saying that we should laugh off or brush off our children's inappropriate behavior. I believe that it should be dealt with. Absolutely.

And that we should be teaching and modeling appropriate behavior to our children.

I just hope that we can all remember that an incident here and there where our children aren't behaving the way that they should- it doesn't mean that we are bad moms.

Let's all cut each other AND ourselves some slack.

Labels: ,


Blogger Liz Mays said...

I do the same thing. I know I've made a lot of good decisions as a mom but it's the things I feel I could have done differently that weigh on my mind. We are truly too tough on ourselves, yes indeed.

October 4, 2010 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Melissa Haak said...

I just wrote about this, it's so easy to give others the pass, so much harder to give it to ourselves isn't it?

Love this!

October 4, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Renegades said...

It is so hard as a mother to feel like you are doing the best job possible because in many ways it's a job without a job description, supervisor, or manual to direct you.

October 4, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger The Random Blogette said...

I swear that you were writing this to me Shell! I always keep telling myself to chill out about the kids, but sometimes I really do feel like such a horrible mom for the stuff that my kids do and say. It always seems like no matter how many good things our kids do we always are so upset about the bad things and sometimes forget to remember how good our kids really are...and that they are just kids.

October 4, 2010 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Di said...

The best parenting advice I ever received was to not get upset with children for - acting like children. I honestly hope to be able to stick with that advice when things get tough. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with it!

October 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger MommyLisa said...

Excellent point Shell!

October 4, 2010 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Drew's Mom said...

Such a great post! Thanks for the reminder. Kids are kids...things happen. And Moms are Moms...

October 4, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Go Mommy said...

I hear you! So crazy I have been working on a post so similar to this! (my son had a very true of himself momment yesterday in front of someone who didn't fully understand just how crazy he can be).

October 4, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Hutch said...

Very well put! I'm going to forward on to a few of my mom friends...I think they should all be reminded of this from time to time :)

October 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you I really needed to read this. I've been beating myself up a lot lately.

October 4, 2010 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Sharlene T. said...

Excellent post. Young love this should definitely give themselves some slack and stop trying to live up to what other people think you should be doing to raise your children the way they want them to be raised. They are children and they're going to break things, hurt themselves, hurt others, and scream at the most inappropriate times. It happens. It's not you, it's the way children act and we have to stop expecting them to behave like adults.

Now, let me go on record to say that I don't think that means you can let them scream whenever they want to in a restaurant – they do have to be socialized – but it takes almost 20 years to raise an adult and you're not going to do it all in one day (or, even in one year).

I say, enjoy the wedding, whether your son spills chocolate sauce all over the wedding cake, or not (just wait to laugh until you get home)… Come visit when you can.

October 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

I find I am critical about myself in more ways than parenting. I think I always have been.

You don't want to be around me when I break a dish or ruin a dinner. I get really heated with myself, and I don't let it go.

Don't get me started if I mess up a schedule, UGH.

October 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Theta Mom said...

Love, love, LOVE this post.

I am so tired of other women judging other moms - some FORGOT what it is like to have kids and others just don't "get it."

I totally agree - we have to model behavior we expect and provide consequences when appropriate - but when I'm in ShopRite and my kid is tantruming perhaps over lack of sleep or just sheer crankiness, cut me some slack - I am *still* a good mom and so are YOU girl!

I've written about this topic before and we have no room to judge other moms because we really *truly* don't know what they are dealing with.

Thanks for this AWESOME post.


October 4, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Babes Mami said...

Too true!

October 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen sister. This couldn't be more true and I'm so glad you posted about it. xoxo

October 4, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Secret Mom Thoughts said...

I have a hard time not judging myself too. We all need to give ourselves some slack.

October 4, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger South Family said...

AHHH!! I needed to read this! I am the WORLDS WORST about worrying that others think I am a horrible mom when my 3 year old throws a fit or is so wild. But when I see other kids do it her age - I just think well she's or he's just 3! Isn't it funny how we are so incredibly hard on ourselves!! :-) Loved reading your blog today!

October 4, 2010 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger shortmama said...

Boy that is so true! Its easy to give other mamas some slack because we think "Ive been in your shoes"...but its harder to do the same for ourselves

October 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger TornadoTwos said...

Excellent point, I definately need to cut myself some slack. I think that's the curse of being a mother- we give ourselves to our children, put who we are on hold to raise them, everyday give 100% of what we have to offer to them and then we feel guilty that we haven't done enough. We need to think more like dads, they always think they're awesome :)

October 4, 2010 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

agreed, agreed, agreed! good word. ;)

October 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I'm a new follower, found your blog through Goodnight Moon. I am so glad you posted this today! I had not been feeling "up-to-par" as a mom because of some comments another mommy friend said to me. I need to remember to cut myself some slack, like I {often} cut her slack. So thanks for a great post today- LOVE your blog!

October 4, 2010 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Momma0f3~1662~ said...

So True! I know that I am very understanding when another child knocks my kid over or takes a toy. I tell them it is an accident or we should share. But, if my kid is the pusher or the toy taker I am completely embarrassed. We all need to accept that kids will be kids and we can't foresee every action!
The best we can do is teach them right from wrong and correct them when needed.

October 4, 2010 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

AGREED! We are always MUCH harder on ourselves than we should be. I know that even my husband Jason tells me to lighten up on myself.

October 4, 2010 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Cheryl D. said...

Excellent post! We should cut ourselves some slack AND cut other moms some slack too!

Sorry about you getting vomited on! That sucks!

October 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I watch JDaniel like a hawk and probably need to give him more space to experiment in life and learn about struggles and successes. I think it is because I don't what to have people say I have not been watching him.

October 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Kristy @Loveandblasphemy said...

Mothers everywhere should read your post and be a little kinder to themselves. Love it!!

October 4, 2010 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I am always so hard on myself...I feel horrible if I do not spend good quality time with my son but then realize, this mama needs a major break or I just might lose it.
I used to think can you get that kid to stop yelling. Now I just smile at the mom and say, its just one of those days...we all can relate!

October 4, 2010 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger natalee said...

oh shell as usual you nailed it....I need a major be kinder to myself reminder..... oh im soo sorry about the puke thing and cub... my one son is a puker... so i know.. yeah..i know...hugs xoxoxo

October 4, 2010 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Kmama said...

So true. My mom told me of the story about when they were in counseling for my brother (LONG STORY that I wish I could blog about, but may never) and my mom kept thinking she was a bad mom. It was the therapist that had to point out that she was acting as if she never did anything right.

Just like we can judge others and only see their bad points, we do the same to ourselves.

October 4, 2010 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I totally agree with you. I cut other parents a lot of slack because I don't know what goes on with them on a daily basis but when it comes to me it is a whole other story. We should cut ourselves some slack but it is just hard to do for some reason.

October 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this! I SO agree with what you said but I'm also very guilty of feeling like I'm not the "perfect" mom

October 4, 2010 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Life Without Pink said...

My boys are VERY spirited and NEVER sit down. I often cringe when we go places because they are constantly running around. They aren't bad just very well active. But you are right, why should I feel bad? I never judge a mom on how her child acts. Kids have their own personalities and we shouldn't make moms or dads feel bad for the way they act. Of course if you have a child that is disrespectful that is one thing but we have to remember kids will be kids.

October 4, 2010 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

what a fantastic post! Really, because I don't cut myself any slack with my kiddos, I cut EVERYONE else, other kids, other parents, coworkers etc all KINDS of slack, but never me and my own kids...and I have to learn how to do that...because they are mine, I worked hard to have them, and they are little people and not little robots..that was so well said.

thanks for the wake up call, they are who they are...and Instead of trying to beat myself up for things twin 2 yrs old do, I could just focus on how happy I should be that I got to be a mom at all.


October 4, 2010 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Jamie Council said...

Especially now that I'm a divorced, single mom of a toddler and a preschooler, Ii've noticed that I'm putting a lot more pressure on them and on myself to be the ultimate SuperMom!! Everytime the kids don't sit still in church, run down the aisle in the grocery store, or act like a 2 and 4 year old everythign is blocked out my the resounding echo of "Well, aren't you the poster child of why single mom's dont' work?" I know it is unfair to all three of us, but when I feel all eyes on my and my empty ring finger (and I look pretty young) I cringe. I so appricate your honesty about how kids are just kids and momy's aren't supposed to be perfect-they are just supposed to be the best mommy's possible.

October 4, 2010 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger One Photo said...

Accidents will happen so if it were my child knocking over another and it was an accident of exuberance I would not feel bad. The times I feel bad are when my daughter deliberately does something naughty or acts up in public and it is being stared at in horror by other people that often makes it worse. I used to stare at misbehaving children out in public that way too - now I just look and am thankful that for once it is not me :-)

October 4, 2010 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's so much easier to cut others some slack at times. I would be the same way, accidents happened and she stepped in right away. Even it had been intentional, she stepped in right away. But I would have been feeling horrible the rest of the night, and the next day.. and on Monday..ack. I agree, we should cut ourselves some slack!

October 4, 2010 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Heligirl said...

Oh how true it is. I don't think I'll every get over that inner voice telling me I'm not good enough, and of course that will include parenting. It's really hard sometimes to accept that we're doing the best we can. I really do cut everyone else far more slack and worry to death about how I'm not doing things right. Thanks for writing this Shell!

October 4, 2010 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


October 4, 2010 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you told me about this incident yesterday my first thought was "Oh No... not your poor dress!!" lol (Not that I wasn't concerned for Cub of course)

You are right we would feel horrible if we were in the other shoes - but maybe you are right - we should be able to let ourselves off the hook sometimes.

October 4, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger MommyLovesStilettos said...

I completely agree. I'm bad about that. I need to learn how to cut myself some slack too.

October 4, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Kids will be kids, and they are not meant to be perfectly good and quiet and still. And as long as they are not being mean, obnoxious, or disprespectful, it's OK to cut them some slack. (I say that from a grandmother's perspective!)But, as parents, we're not perfect, and we don't have perfect kids, and neither does anybody else. We have 18 years to mold them, one day at a time.

October 4, 2010 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Melinda said...

As the mom of two very strong-willed children, who has gotten her share of judgmental advice and looks over the years, THANK YOU for saying this!! ;0)

October 4, 2010 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I so agree sister! :) Spot on girl! I don't know why we are so hard on ourselves.

So sorry to hear about the puke and dress. It had to have been awful...yuk!

October 4, 2010 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger TheFitHousewife said...

Totally! I couldn't have said it better myself! We are way to hard on ourselves, expecting perfect behavior from our children. Sometimes, we gotta learn to let it go....

October 4, 2010 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I wish I could stand on top of a mountain and shout your post. Why are we so hard on ourselves? If we all just took a deep breath and looked around we would realize that we are all in this together and we are all doing a good job!

October 4, 2010 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Flucky Mom said...

I completely agree with you! I recently wrote about the same thing and the part about cutting ourselves some slack.

It's wonderful to see that there are moms who can just let it go and move on. But it's because of the crazy critical moms that I feel the need to apologize profusely when K walks away with another kids' toy.

October 4, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I'm stealing that line: we gave birth to little humans -- not robots. I'm stealing it and living by it from this point forward. (hope you don't mind!)

You're so right on this. Thank you!

October 4, 2010 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Corinne said...

Amen. It is one of the hardest things about being a mom.

October 4, 2010 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

I find that letting her be responsible for her own behavior means I don't really get to share in her successes. Then I really am on my own for self worth and that's a bit scary after five years.

It's a sticky web of weird mom brain thoughts.

October 4, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Nancy C said...

You really hit a nerve with me today. This is exactly what I need to tell myself, again and again.

It's so easy to forget that they are people, not only extensions of us.

Consequences yes, taking on every burden as our own, no.

Thanks so much for writing this.

October 4, 2010 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Greqt post! I think we are all guilty of this.

October 4, 2010 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

Well said. I don't judge other moms at all. I mean, there are those extreme situations where I know the mom is being way too mean and hurtful to her child and that always breaks my heart, but for the most part? I'm the mom with the 2 year old who is throwing a tantrum in the mall, so I get you. Totally. Moms should totally support eachother and give a kind smile instead of the evil eye!

October 4, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Frugal Vicki said...

I'm pretty much holding back tears at this point...because this is one thing I am working on (with some help, because in all honesty I wouldn't admit I am not a bad mom if someone wasn't pushing me to do it.)
Love the post!

October 4, 2010 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Emmy said...

Amen! And the truth is we are often so caught up in our own kids that we don't notice what other kids are doing and it is the same the other way- most other people don't notice!

I once wrote a blog post entitled "hello my name is...". And what did I say I was-codependent. My worth and happiness gets way too caught up in my kids successes and failures.

So sorry he threw up on you

October 5, 2010 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger AiringMyLaundry said...

When I see my kids throw a fit, I think, "I'm the crappiest Mom ever." But really, it's just what kids do and I have to understand that. I mean, I threw some KILLER fits as I grew up.

October 5, 2010 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

You should definitely cut yourself some slack!....and get that outfit drycleaned soonest. I hear vomit will encrust in a matter of seconds.
You're a good mommy, no doubt about it.

October 5, 2010 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I always try to step out of whatever particular situation is making me beat the crap out of myself at that very moment. If I do that, and reverse the roles, I am much more apt to let it go.

Puke, yuck...

Your attitude probably put the Mom at ease too b/c you never know what kind of Mom you're dealing with. It's better to be all apologetic at first than be casual to a mother who will be all "you hurt my baby" and stuff. Does that make sense? Your reaction probably helped her to let it go...

October 5, 2010 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger The Mommyologist said...

I still can't believe you got puked on. At least it wasn't your puke, or DH's though, right? Kid puke isn't so bad...when it's your own kid, that is.

Ok, too much puke before 8am.


And I totally agree that we are WAY too hard on ourselves!

October 5, 2010 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger KLZ said...

My son smacked a little girl while trying to wave to her when he was 8 months old and I still feel guilty about it due to the dirty look the other mom gave me.

But he was 8 months old! And while I know rationally that these things happen, the look she gave me still makes me question myself.

October 5, 2010 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Tracie Nall said...

A little slack is a very good thing!

Hope that the wedding went well...other than the whole puking thing!

October 5, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm the same way! Very understanding of someone else, but so hard on myself if it was my kid.

I was worried about Maddie behaving on the flights and at her baptism this weekend, and there was a baby on 1 flight who cried most of the time. I felt bad for the parents who couldn't calm her, but I know if it was me, I'd be sweating bullets.

October 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's so true. I'm all Preachy McPreacherson about not judging each other and supporting each mom's choices but I'm a real bitch to myself. Like it's my fault that my daughter threw a tantrum at Stop and Shop. Clearly it was her issue, but I apologized to everyone in the frozen food section. And for what? A 15 month old crying because she wanted the ice cream she saw in the case? Hell sometimes I wish I could throw a tantrum when I can't have my way too!

October 5, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Aleksandra Nearing said...

Aww, poor dear! I can't believe he got so upset that he puked! I totally agree with you about cutting ourselves some slack. I don't know why but I always set the bar higher for myself and excuse others. Like this week I had a doctor's appointment I forgot to reschedule and was too "guilty" to move it. I mean, really, how many HOURS have I spent waiting in the doctor's office for an appointment even when I've shown up early or on time? MANY! Do they ever apologize? No. But I still couldn't bring myself to reschedule and just went despite the strain on my schedule.

October 5, 2010 at 8:43 PM  

it is hard. our kids cut us more slack than we cut ourselves. i am so thankful mine are so forgiving!

October 6, 2010 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Jayme said...

Parenting is so very hard, and we are our own worst critics.

October 6, 2010 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Loved this post so much Shell!! Oh man it resonated deep within my heart.

I have seen so many parents get 10 times more stressed out when they think other people are judging them. It always makes an otherwise unfun moment unbearable.

I am the same way. The only way I survive tense situations is to remind myself people are saying "Oh I have been there. I wish I could tell her it will pass." Then I tell myself 'this will pass, just get through the momen." and it goes away!!

Thank you for this. We are totally our worst critics.

October 8, 2010 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I do the same thing. I am always stricter at someone else's house. Stuff I don;t care about at home I find myself getting on their case about.

October 8, 2010 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger For the Love of Naps - Sarah said...

Totally get this. Great post.

October 8, 2010 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Kat @ www.TodaysCliche.com said...

I feel like the biggest loser and sucker 99% of the time. We are SOO THAT FAMILY that every points at.


I can NOT believe he freaking PUKED on you. OMG. I think I'm going to throw up at the thought of it. You poor thing. Hope you had a few glasses of wine to make it all better...

October 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Mrs4444 said...

This is awesome. Well-said.

October 10, 2010 at 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Gemma said...

Reading your article must me realize just how many mom's go through the same problems. When they were younger i took my babies swimming and we had a near fatal experience. It's only years later i realized that is wasn't my fault despite blaming myself for years. We are not perfect but as long as we have love we will be good mothers :)

October 29, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Jen @ After The Alter said...

This is one thing I am terrified of as a soon to be mom...the judging. I must admit I look at others and judge..and I shouldn't. I just hope it doesn't come back to bite me!

November 8, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

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