I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood

My sister and a good friend, Liselle have made it their mission in life to educate prospective parents what parenthood really is like!  I'm so over watching Oprah, but she had one show I enjoyed:  Motherhood Secrets where mothers share all sorts of funny and sobering confessions about their own journey.  Like the one mother who used maxi pads when she ran out of diapers - and found it worked really well. Whahahaha!  Think it might be cheaper than diapers. 

There's another myth:  that motherhood has to be a natural, free-flowing instinct.  Think it might actually be counter-intuitive.  One of Oprah's guests, Vicky said "the most surprising thing about motherhood was that she didn't feel maternal right away. "I swore to God that the moment my daughter issued forth from my loins that ... my life would finally be complete and I would finally know my purpose. It was not like that," she says. "I couldn't get her to sleep. I couldn't get her to stop crying. I completely believed that I was the only woman in the history of time who did not have the maternal gene, and I thought I was completely alone." Four years later, Vicki says she's just now getting the hang of it." Wonder how many others felt that way?  I've certainly heard a number of women share similar sentiments.  One friend thought she would recognise her son when he was born and was disappointed when he was a stranger.  Took her about a week to get used to him being her son.  Go read some more and feel better about your own bewildering parent moments. 

I wonder how dads feel about being a parent?  I remember my brother-in-law telling me how one morning 2am, him and my sister sat with a screaming baby and promised one another that they're never doing this again.  Needless to say, they now have a new 2-month old baby.  Like my sister said:  "The 1st one didn't die due to my lack of parenting skills, so felt much more confident about having a 2nd one."  And she certainly is about 99% more relaxed the 2nd time around. 

Maryke (my wise and much love sister) told me about the book that is the title of this post:  I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood. 

The author shares these tips to parents who are too hard on themselves about being a "perfect parent":

7 Steps to Getting a Grip on Judgment
  • Start to become aware of the moments when you negatively judge yourself.
  • Strive for your own personal best instead of 100 percent perfect.
  • Open yourself up to recognizing good-mom moments. Even the small things—like spending ten minutes of one-on-one time or reading a book together—matter.
  • When you're about to judge someone or yourself, ask why you're doing it. One mom told us that she decided to say judge every time she had a judgmental thought. She was surprised at how often that was.
  • If you find yourself judging someone, try to put yourself in that mom's position and look at the issue from her perspective.
  • Let go of judgments of others on what's come to be known as "normal."
  • Make sure your support system is working for you. As one mom put it, "it's not a real moms' group unless someone's crying."
I googled the title and came across a blog written by 4 women, who between them have 10 boys (shame, hey).  I was a better mom before I had kids.    Beth-Ann Jones had a list of things she would never do as a parent:

"For those of you without kids (who just read over this list with the same bravado that I once had):  read my top ten “Before I Had Kids” list and memorize it.  It will come back to haunt you.
Before I had kids I was . . .
  1. Never going to let my kids sleep in my bed.
  2. Never going to allow the T.V. to be on while we ate meals.
  3. Never going to bribe my children to be on their best behaviour.
  4. Never going to applaud/cheer when my child peed in the toilet.
  5. Never going to allow my kids to have a dirty face, dirty hands or wear dirty clothes in public.
  6. Never going to leave the house looking like a disheveled mess (i.e. hair a mess, track pants, no make-up, etc.)
  7. Never going to use the T.V. as a babysitter so I could: a) have a shower b) talk on the phone c) do anything else for myself.
  8. Never going to lose my cool during a temper tantrum.
  9. Never going to feed my children anything less than the healthiest, most organic, delicious food.
  10. Never going to give them a B.S. answer to any of their questions, no matter how challenging the answer would be, no matter how uncomfortable I would be, no matter how long the conversation needed to go on."
 She asked for responses at the end of her post:  "To all of you mothers and fathers, what are some of the things you promised you would never do as a parent that you have found yourself doing since having children?" and had 530 responses!  Go read it, some of them are very funny and some poignant.  And some share how surprised they are that there children emerged relatively normal after being parented by them!  Supports my belief that (most) parents really don't wake up each morning with the idea to mess up their kids. 
Are there some things you never thought you wanted to do as a parent that you are doing?  There aren't many followers yet to the blog, but I would love to hear what you have learnt as a parent.  I need to think about my list and will post it soon. 


Lee said...

Great advise Amanda! It seems being totally disappointed in who we really are as parents is more common than it it not.

I am really going to take on board the advise about letting go of judgements and stop beating myself up quite as much.

Thanks for commenting on my blog and bringing this one to my attention.

Amanda said...

I have yet to find a mom who isn't guilted out about the way they parent. Probably only psychotic and psycopathic ones who aren't. ;-)

Children live in the moment. Make their moment good, they're fine. You mess up? Apologise and their moment's fine again. Wish we adults could operate this way.

Look 4ward to reading more about your journey.

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