I was chatting with a new mom the other day and one of the topics that came up was how much unsolicited advice other people like to offer. Often judgement accompanies that advice. And nothing makes a new mom feel better about herself than telling her she’s doing it all wrong.
Now, I am not a new mom. I haven’t been one in years. In fact, at one time, I was an old mom with another new baby. So I have the luxury of perspective. I don’t give out advice unless I’m asked, and I always preface it with, “This is what worked for me, but you have to trust your own instinct.” Because really, what new moms need is encouragement, and permission to ask for help when they need it.
I’m not sure this post counts as either encouragement or help, but sometimes a good laugh is worth just as much. So I’ve put together a collection of “bad” mommy moments. Some are my own, but a few have been graciously donated by other imperfect, yet perfectly wonderful moms I know.
Maybe these stories will help new moms realize that no one has all the answers, we all embarrass ourselves, and everyone makes mistakes. Your kids will be okay. Mostly. You may want to put aside a little bit of money for therapy just in case.
But seriously, everyone has a story (some of us more than one), even the person who just lectured you on appropriate potty training. They just aren’t willing to share. But I am, and so for your reading pleasure, I’ve divided these terrible tales into helpful categories.
1. The distracted mommy:
I’ve locked all my kids in the car at one time or another. As in buckled them in the car seat, shut the door, and realized the keys are locked inside with the kid. You’d think I’d have learned by the fourth, but nope, she got stuck in the mini van for about an hour too, just like all her brothers. When I shared this story with my hair stylist, she admitted she too had locked her toddler in the car, but luckily she was able to dive through the open sunroof like a modern day super-woman and rescue her child in just under two minutes.
A friend shared that while yelling at her husband on vacation in the Caribbean, she failed to notice her daughter eyeing a life size water fountain. Moments later the toddler fell in, face first. In a dramatic fashion, the gurgling, spluttering child had to be fished out of the water.
Another friend told me she once tried to order Dunkin' Donuts for her kids from the extended mouth of a garbage can, thinking it was the speaker, while a line of cars piled up behind her.
2. All in good fun, right?
The same garbage can ordering friend has a daughter who enjoys playing “Cinderella.” Mom gets to be the Wicked Stepmother, demanding that the poor young girl scrub the floors on her hands and knees, with a bucket of real water and a sponge. If mom isn’t nasty enough, the daughter gets upset. Wanting to be a good playmate on this particular day, Wicked Stepmom really gave Cinderella the “what-for.” She didn’t realize, however, that the oilman had been in the basement refilling the tank and had wandered up the back stairs. He’d obviously been standing there for a while, and it was evident by the look on his face that he didn’t know it was just a game.
3. Kids say the funniest things!
One mom’s sweet little boy tried to comfort a crying child in the checkout line. In his attempt at solidarity he announced, “My mom once stuck an M&M up my butt and it hurt.” Mortified, the mom squealed, “I did no such thing!” The indignant child worked himself into hysteria, insisting that yes this happened, and yes it hurt. Finally in the parking lot, his reference became clear. “I had to poop, mom, and the M&M in my butt made it come out.” Who doesn’t confuse M&Ms and enemas now and again?
4. Things I’ve done when I’m angry, for $200 Alex.
My kids are generally pretty bright. But occasionally I wonder if we’ve really passed along the best of our genetic material. Walking back to the car from a baseball stadium, one of my sons complained loudly about a rock in his shoe. “Kick it out,” I advised. A minute later, “Mom, the rock is still in my shoe.” More whining ensued and he continued limping through the parking lot. I finally turned to him and yelled, “You are wearing flip-flops you DUMB ASS! Just kick the rock out!” An older woman walking next to me gasped in dismay. “Don’t judge me,” I growled, turning on her. “I’m usually nice.”
A friend’s daughter was in the tub playing with her Barbie dolls. The door was closed, but the mom could hear chatter from the bathroom. She can't recall what her daughter said to set her off, but something made her irate. Throwing open the bathroom door, she ripped the doll out of her daughter's hands and threw it down the stairs. Quickly realizing the error of her ways, she slowly trekked down the steps to retrieve the doll. Poor Ken lay on the floor, headless. He’d been decapitated on descent. She tried to put the doll’s head back on but to no avail. Embarrassed, she apologized to her daughter and sheepishly handed back a stumpy-necked Ken.
5. Dads do dumb things too.
Lest you boys feel left out, I’ll share a fabulous daddy moment courtesy of my husband. When my oldest son was about three, he had a cute little red hat, the kind with earflaps and a brim. It was a chilly day and we were at an outdoor festival when my husband had to use the restroom. My potty-training son was happy to join him. When they returned a little while later, the hat was missing and my son was wet. “Uh, where’s his hat?” I asked confused. My husband could barely contain himself. "I was peeing and the next thing I know he’s out of his stroller, looking into the toilet bowl. It wasn’t like I could just stop, you know?” Incredulous, I sputtered, “You pissed on his head?” “Yup,” he answered.