It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Dirty Little Secrets

I’m reading “I was a Really Good Mom before I had kids“.

It’s an entertaining read, and I have lots and lots of responses to it, none of which you’ve heard about. That’s because I’ve been too busy reading, see. Reading and scribbling down responses. The problem with blogging is that it fits in the same time spot as reading. So, very often, I can do one or the other, but not both. Certainly I can’t do a LOT of one thing and still do the other.

Lately, I’ve been reading. A lot. And it’s been wonderful. Not so good for the blogging, but wonderful for me. Sorry about that. (Well, not really all that sorry. As I say, it’s been wonderful. But here I am back! Aren’t you glad?)

However, “I Was a Really Good Mom” is a good book, and certainly good fodder for this site. (I do worry about all these neurotic, over-achiever moms with the astonishingly low self-esteem, though. Are they really that prevalent? Or is this book marketed to a particularly fragile niche of the mommy world?)

With that caveat in place, it’s an interesting, thought-provoking read. One of the features of the book is a recurring green sidebar titled “Dirty Little Secrets”, and in each is a confession of some small mommy misdemeanour.

Here’s a sampling:

My girlfriends and I decided that 4 p.m. is the “new 5” when it comes to pouring that first glass of wine every day.

(To which I respond: Is there some rule you can’t drink before 5 p.m.? Who knew?)

Some of them are silly. This one made me laugh out loud:

Sometimes I think, “I can’t believe I gave up nine months of drinking for this.”

Been there! I suspect we all have. (Except my Quebecois friends, who tell me that the French advice books allow one glass a day after the first trimester. How about that?)

Some of them made me sad:

I’m continually running away from my children. I love them, but they just drain me. There’s a poof of smoke at 2:30 p.m. when my help arrives and I fly out the door.

I am not thinking “What a terrible mother!” She says she loves her children and I believe her. We all know what a drain our children can be on our energy, our emotions, our selves. But for most of us, the feeling of being depleted is temporary and occasional. We all feel that urgency to flee … once in a while. How sad for her that this seems to be her everyday response to them. However, given that this is her experience, how sane and sensible for her to arrange some mother respite, so she can enjoy them when she’s with them, and also have a daily breather. (And how fortunate she is that she can afford it.)

Some had me nodding along, some I just couldn’t relate to AT ALL. But they’re all honest expressions of other women’s anxieties and “failures”, and as such, valid.

[Total Tangent About to Begin: And then there was the bizarre one. I don’t know what it’s doing in this book at all, because it has nothing to do with mothering. It does make you wonder whether she’s an incredibly (even pathologically) loyal wife, or if she’s an incredibly (even pathologically) repressed one, because she’s got to be one or the other. (One hopes for her husband’s sake she’s not both…)

I have a very vivid, very sexual dream about my contractor. So I fired him.

To which I say, WTF? He loses a contract because your subconscious was lusting after him? Where’s the justice in that? And what’s wrong with lusty dreams? And why on earth, if you find him that attractive, didn’t you just pour yourself that 4 p.m. glass of wine and inconspicuously enjoy the scenery?

That was by far the weirdest one by me. And I still don’t know what it’s doing in this book.

End of Tangent.]

We all have these dirty little secrets. I posted about one of mine here. That was one I really had trouble confessing to. THAT one made me feel like a poor mother at the time, no doubt about it. And, even years later, I feared the judgement of others… because part of me felt it would be warranted. Pretty near everyone has experienced a few of those, I’m sure.

Another, smaller and less significant DLS, formatted to the size of a sidebar, is this:

One day I didn’t strap the two-year-old into his stroller, and when I bumped up over a curb, he flew forward onto the sidewalk. I bent over him and pretended to make sure he was okay (which he was), but really? I was using him as a blind to look around and see if anyone had noticed.

If I were a nervous, low-self-esteem sort, I’d be convinced my response said all sorts of reprehensible things about my priorities as a mother, my ability to love the child, my appalling selfishness. Never mind the first failure of cavalierly endangering my child’s safety by not buckling him in! Which is BAD ENOUGH!!! But then I compound is with total lack of compassion, lack of guilt and sheerest ego???? SURELY I should be worried about the CHILD, not the potential embarrassment to ME!!! What kind of a mother am I???

But I have sturdy self-esteem. I’m a good mother. I didn’t feel like a failure, I felt like a doofus, and I didn’t want anyone to see me being a doofus, thanks so much. But yes, 1) I didn’t buckle him in, 2) I managed to eject him onto the sidewalk, and 3) I was more worried about public embarrassment than my failings as a mother. Ooooooooo….

Okay, now it’s your turn. What are your dirty little secrets?

November 17, 2011 Posted by | books, parenting | , , | 4 Comments