Photo by: Muffet

Guilt of an Imperfect Mother

Photo by: Muffet

I am the perfect mother. I never raise my voice. I serve only nutritious meals and snacks. I read a stack of educational books every day, and I strictly prohibit all television viewing. I possess a limitless supply of patience, and I’m never tired. And I certainly don’t indulge in time to myself because the children need my constant nurturing.

If you believe that, stick around for my Oscar acceptance speech.

Although I may sometimes wish to be that kind of mom, I’m well aware that I’m not. Quite frankly, anyone who says she is that kind of mom is either lying or has a nanny, nutritionist, chef, personal trainer, housekeeper, masseuse, and therapist on call 24 hours a day. Because I’m not that superior mom, I can’t help but feel guilty for those nagging transgressions that keep me from attaining parental perfection, leaving me with the unenviable title: Imperfect Mother.

What Imperfect Mother’s guilt can I pile on myself? Let me count the ways. I feel guilty for watching my 2-year-old daughter savor a spinach and feta filled hamburger, twice baked potato casserole, and mozzarella and tomato salad, while my 6-year-old son chokes down sauce-less meatballs and half a banana. How did I allow my son to develop such abysmal eating habits? I feel guilty for focusing more attention on my daughter than on my son. I’d like to say she requires the majority of my attention because she’s younger and more dependent, but it’s partly because she’s just so naughty.

I feel guilty for the times I rely on the television as a baby-sitter. Hey, it’s the only sitter I can find that doesn’t charge by the hour! I feel guilty for expecting stellar behavior at the grocery store. If I had to sit in a cart for an hour looking at food I wasn’t allowed to eat, I’d be cranky too. I feel guilty for listening with only half an ear. I tend to forget that hidden amidst the weeded field of “he-hit-me, she-took-my-toy” rants blooms a garden of insight into my children’s psyches. I know that one day they won’t want to talk to me at all, so I should take advantage of their loose lips while I can. I feel guilty for wishing time away.

When my daughter attempts to flush an entire roll of toilet paper, I wish she were older so she could use the potty unsupervised. When my son spills milk all over the kitchen, I wish he were older so he could pour the milk himself (or at least clean up his own mess).

I know I’ll regret trying to fast forward these moments I will miss when they ARE older. I feel guilty for putting the kids to bed early because I am tired. Sometimes I even feel guilty for feeling guilty because deep down I know that I’m the best imperfect mom I can be. And my children love me anyway.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me go cook up an organic snack while I read the kids an entire chapter book, lay down the newspaper for finger painting, make the rain stop so we can play outside, and squeeze in an effortless five-mile run all with a smile on my endlessly patient face of parenting perfection.

Wife on the Roller Coaster is an imperfect stay-at-home mom. On her best days, her two young children are bathed, fed, educated, and smiling. On her worst days, she takes solace simply in the fact that those two children know they are loved. She blogs about her parenting imperfection and her life as a military spouse at Wife on the Roller Coaster.

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I almost cried reading this. I feel the same. It's nice to know we are NOT alone. :)

Yet another great piece of writing by one of my favorite blogging writers! We all do it, wish the seemingly never ending day would be over and the children be in bed and countless other things we then feel guilty for doing. But living with anyone 24/7 is tough - the only people I could ever imagine doing that with are my daughter and husband in fact :-) So there are bound to be fall out times and "off" days for everyone...

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I love, love, love this post. I am also a military spouse and a SAHM. It's so nice to read that someone else is going through what I'm going through! Thank you!

great article. Now try working full time (because you have to, not because you want to) and getting to see your kids a few hours a day.

Love the article! I totally agree with FTWM...I feel like I give everything I have at work b/c I have to and I end up shorting my children. The guilt is horrific!

FTWM, I feel you, on top of THAT, working full time, with a husband who travels 70% of the time and two boys under the age of 4, who are 18 mths apart......sigh.
I did cry when I read this. It's a good reminder, I'm the BEST imperfect mother I can be.
Thank you for putting thoughts to paper, AND for being sooooo sarcastic with it too :)

I, too, love this post. I can't imagine what it would be like to "live without guilt" and to be satisfied just doing the best that you can. Sounds like this writer is well on her way to finding that formula. It is an inspirational piece that everyone can savor.

I really like this blog.. We all feel guilty at some point in time. Society has made us feel this way and it is not fair. Because the one's who say what we need to be probably don't have children. Let us just do what we can do in a day's work and rest peaceful that we love our children so much that we feel this guilt in the first place. We were not made to be perfect and therefore we are not and we do the best we can with what we have. Thanks for the blog! Keep up the good work.

This is so dead on true! I am a single mother of 4, the oldest is 18 and my youngest is 2. I work full time and try to taxi everyone back and forth from one event to another. Besides the fact that I feel so terrible about being a single mom, I am also stretched thin and then feel guilty because Im not giving each of my kids equal amounts of attention...

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After reading this post I am feeling a lil less guilty and the other half of m is feelinh guilty of not feeling guilty.
I have a 20 month old son and how I wish I was perfect mom..
The thing that keeps me going is the fact that I am not alone .There are others like me.
Well i just remembered something from my physics classes in school-just trying to put in this parlance - Ideal(perfect) is imaginary ,it doesnt exists. so I am real :)

I LOVED this article. It does sometimes take someone else to tell you you are doing a good job even if you are not a "TV MOM". I actually had my son's doctor chastise me that I was being WAY too hard on myself when I asked so many questions about if what I was doing was "normal". She told me my son is loved and healthy and eveything else falls into place!

Today my son leaves for Afganistan. My daughter-in-law has set up a blog, which is how I come to see your blog...My heart is with our men and women in the military...Love your blog...Debbie

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