I think I may be a bad mother. No, correction I think I may be considered a bad mother if you apply 21st century suburban perimeters to my parenting skills. OK, I’m going to change that again because this admitting you’re a bad mother thing is hard. I’m a bad mother, but only in regards to the teenage years.
I’m sure you’re wondering how I came to this watershed event of questioning my parenting greatness.
It happened at the Hen House. Yeah, the flipping grocery store.
There I was, trying to decide if I wanted to buy the classic Cheez-It or the new Cheez-It bacon and cheese duo, which is quite the taste sensation, but you feel a tad greasy and a smidge shameful after eating them. So, as I was reaching for the bacon and cheese combo (yeah, I decided the greasy shame would be worth it), two mothers I know strolled into the same aisle. As moms do, we started talking about our kids, and that’s when it hit me.
I stink at motherhood.
These moms, who did not have carts with any processed snack foods, began rhapsodizing about all the things they were planning to do to ensure their teens’ last summer before they graduate high school would be “magical.”
Instead of nodding my head and just rolling with the conversation, I had to open my mouth and blurt out, “My definition of a magical teen summer is making sure they get a job that runs June through August.”
This was not the right thing to say.
I got “the look” times two. Any mom knows what the look is. It’s a judgmental side eye delivered by another mother that’s accompanied with the slow burn of sanctimony.
At first I was confused. What did I say that was wrong? Summer jobs and teenagers go together like bacon and cheese infused into a cracker. It’s a good thing – right? Well apparently not, because according to these moms, by making my children work I was “robbing them of memories.”
Oh, how I wished they hadn’t gone there. I’m not a memory mom. A long time ago I took a pledge to not base my parenting and every moment of my life ensuring my kids would be living in their own personal fairy tale, thus ensuring a childhood resplendent with momentous memories.
Sorry, but I have/had no interest in raising a prince or princess. Primarily because for that happen you have to be their servant. I took a firm pass on that job.
For a brief moment, I thought about defending myself, and then just accepted that in these moms’ eyes, I was a bad parent. It hurt a little. No mother wants anyone to think she’s failing at raising her children. I made an excuse to leave that conversation and hauled over to the frozen food section.
As I stared at the Eggo chocolate chip waffles, I had a moment of deep reflection.
Had I made a mistake by years ago not embracing the “memory mom” movement? Would my kids look back on their childhood and shudder because I never packed their lunch boxes with food origamied and styled to look like Cinderella’s castle? Seriously, I was Smuckers Uncrustable mom. Good Lord, the horrors of eating a sandwich that wasn’t sculpted into Thomas the Tank Engine.
I got so upset I had to lean my head against the cold glass doors for relief. Then one of the memory moms walked by and she was on her phone. It sounded like she was having a fight with one of her kids. I stood up, held my head high, and thought that’s the problem with parenting in Fantasyland. No matter what, reality always finds a way to creep in.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.