Yes, other women do these things, too.
French fries for dinner, skipping that shower every now and then because you’re just too tired, allowing the kids to watch cartoons so you can drink a cup of hot coffee in relative silence. Let the woman who has never done these things cast the first stone.
Let’s be honest: There are no perfect women, and there are no perfect mothers. However hard we try, there’s always something we could do better. Although deep down inside we know we’re not superwomen, we’re reluctant to admit our mistakes. Ideally, we would never talk about them out loud.
Social media only makes things worse, of course. We all have an Instagram or Facebook account where we can boast about everything from our devoted husbands to our remodeled kitchens. And of course, the maternal achievements we all think we need to have—organic, sustainable, vegan, gluten-free homemade meals prepared from scratch for the family, or the fact that 8-month-old little Brian can already walk, feed and dress himself. It’s hard to admit to any shortcomings at all when your friends seem so good at everything.
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I gathered a few examples of things women and mothers do, but don’t talk about out loud, to show you just how common they really are:
1. You just want to leave
Immediately. We all have a breaking point: washing the floor, wiping dirty faces and hands, or saying “don’t do that.” Wanting to get up from our desks, throw all our papers in the air and walk out of the office for good. No matter what time of day and for no reason we need to leave.
As a mom, I feel like that several times a day. Sometimes as early as 9:15 am. And you know what? It’s normal; it’s my safety buffer. And sometimes, when you can, it’s right to give in: Get out of the house, or take a lunch break. Let go of the negative emotions through a fast walk, shopping, drinking a cup of coffee (or whatever you want) than to explode at the people in your lives.
2. You cry in secret
As soon as you close the door, and find yourself alone, you cry. You cry because the baby began to cry too, or because you are so tired, or because you already miss the baby. I’ve done that too. Just this morning I cried in the elevator because my son had a meltdown like a normal 14-month-old toddler whose mother left the house without him. Leaving a crying toddler in the care of dad or grandma or a babysitter is not pleasant, but it is not a crime. It’s normal for you to go out alone sometimes.
3. You have regrets
No mother will admit to it out loud, but in difficult times many of us happen to think (even for a fraction of a second) that she regrets the decision to be married or have a child. Occasionally all women feel disappointed, lonely, or that this life path is too difficult, that you are not prepared for this. It’s normal to think so, and it will pass. Because a moment later your toddler’s toothless grin or your husband’s charming smile rewards all your efforts, and you know it’s meant to be, and you wouldn’t change places with your single friends.
4. You hand over your device to the kids
We all know that too many electronics at too early a stage of development is not good for children. We don’t let them play with cell phones, we don’t allow Santa to bring a 3-year-old a tablet, and we limit TV time. That’s the official story, anyway.
Plenty of parents allow extra cartoon watching when they need to finish something (like paying bills or making breakfast), or just want to have 15 minutes of silence. The only important thing is common sense. If you say no to your child when he begs for more screen time most of the time, and offer him a different form of play, you’re not a lazy mom.
In defense of screen time
5. You allow sweets
Sugar-free, gluten-free, animal fat-free, organic and sustainable, those are the only kid foods that can be photographed and put on Instagram. But the truth is that most of us at one time or another have given our kids something from the forbidden list. (Even famous food author Michael Pollan admits to getting his kids a sugary cereal once in a while.) A little chocolate ice cream is not the end of the world.
6. You think, “It’s all my fault! I didn’t catch it!”
It’s the voice you hear when your child got a bruise on the playground, or hit his head, fell off a chair, or you forgot a work meeting. It’s easy to judge, but I would give my right hand that these things have happened to everyone at some point. You can have eyes in the back of your head, and your kid will always find an outlet to put his finger in. Interestingly, my son always gets the biggest bruises when there are even more people “watching” him in the house.
7. You skip the kids’ bath time (and your shower)
Bath time for a baby or toddler takes about 45 minutes if you include the preparation, the drying, and the dressing. Sometimes it can take a lot longer if your little pirate discovered how much fun it is to splash the water out of the bathtub, throw floating toys, or slosh the soap bubbles everywhere (I am at this stage with my child). Then we have to add the time for a meltdown caused by the bath ending, and even more time for cleaning and drying up of the bathroom (you know, before the flood reaches the downstairs neighbors). That’s more like two hours, easy.
So if I do the math … my child goes to sleep without a bath (#terriblemother).
8. You don’t cook healthy dinners
No one wants to stuff their kids full of chemicals, and yes, we know better. If you have the energy, time and money to only shop at Whole Foods and whip up amazing organic meals— great! But it doesn’t mean that you are a better mother than the one who serves a ready-made soup from a can because she has no time to prepare homemade food. Besides, the produce that ends up in the baby food jars undergoes strict quality control, potentially greater than carrots from a farm stand.
15-Minute dinner recipes for busy families
9. You sleep in (if the rare opportunity presents itself)
Seemingly there is nothing controversial about that, except the fact that your toddler has been awake for a while already. What? He’s playing alone? Without breakfast? Most of us, especially after a sleepless night (think colic, teething) would rather throw a hammer at the alarm clock than jump out of bed. So if your kid is not crying from the moment he wakes up, what’s wrong with a little extra shut eye?
A few moms confessed to me that they give their children (once they are a bit older) their favorite breakfast foods and then without a second thought go right back to bed to sleep some more.
10. You’re with the kids even when they don’t need you
Instead of taking care of yourself and relaxing, maybe you find yourself looking at your sleeping child. Yup, I do. Together with my husband, we creep up on tiptoes into the room, and we stay there until one of us bursts out laughing (our child performs real acrobatics in his sleep!).
And, I will add, after an entire day of taking care of him, when I want to get out of the house as quickly as possible, before bed I always, always, look at his photos on my cell phone. A waste of time? Maybe. But it sends me to sleep in a better mood.