“Why is she wearing pjs in the middle of the afternoon?” a parent behind me whispers to another in Spanish, no knowing I understand what they’re saying. They giggle together as I focus on not throwing up from the sweltering heat.
“Did she even brush her teeth?” a judgmental pre-teen (aren’t they all a little judgmental?) asks another boy, as I sit and wonder Did I brush my teeth? I remember thinking I should, but I can’t remember if I did…
Yes, I am that mom.
I’m that mom that countless Facebook and blog posts condemn with statements like “if you can’t even bother to get dressed before leaving the house, then how can you expect your kids to do it?” or “if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of your kids.” Sure, I’ll admit that getting dressed in real clothes seems like it should be the very least someone could do before rushing out the door, except I’m a spoonie, which means that getting dressed is one of the many things that is far more difficult for me to do than most non-spoonies realize.
Here’s a taste of what my mornings are like, and remember, all of this is before my meds kick in:
- I wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to rouse a grumpy six year old who cries, “but I’m so tired!” As if she hadn’t protested bedtime the night before, staying up too late out of sheer stubbornness.
- I make my way into the kitchen, hoping to start making a lunch, when I instead discover a mess one of our three pets (or maybe all three conspiring together) made while we slept.
- “Apricot, out!” I hear her little voice cry, as our newest furry addition sneaks into her room to steal a toy. I abandon the lunch making process to chase him out of her room, as her little stomping feet aren’t cutting it.
- Suddenly, I remember that I never made her clean out her backpack on Friday because my fatigue had hit me so hard. Better do that now or else her teacher will wonder.
- Oops, I also forgot to have her clean out her lunchbox, so that’s the next task.
- But, wait, cries of “I don’t have any pants” drift down the hallway, so I’m diverted back to the bedroom in search of pants my little fashionista approves of, since I forgot to put her laundry in the dryer the night before.
- Back to packing lunch, with only one short pause to help get the “pokey thing” in her sock in exactly the right position so that she can’t feel it.
- Oh, crap, I better put on a bra…
- “Why aren’t your shoes on?” I ask, exasperated as I put her finally packed lunch with her backpack. “I can’t find them,” she asserts while chasing after the kitty. “They’re right here in front of my face,” I respond, sheer exhaustion dripping from every syllable. “Oh, I’m so silly, I thought the cat had them,” she giggles while I think you’re not fooling anyone here, little missy.
- Finally, we’re ready to go…oh wait, not quite yet. We have to lock the pets up so they don’t try to escape while we’re wheeling Razzy, my electric scooter, out of the house. Once they’re secure, it’s helmets on and off we scoot to the bus stop a block and a half away.
- And then, after all of this, which has left me grasping for spoons before the day has truly even begun, I’m met with judgement and social media posts telling me that I’m a horrible mom because I can’t even bother to get dressed.
Being a parent is hard, whether you have chronic illnesses or not. The hardest part is the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves and each other. As a culture, we’ve created these impossible standards that create this image of parenting as purely black & white, good or bad, but that’s not the reality that any of us, spoonie or not, live in.
Sure, I’m “that mom.” But, I’m also a good mom.
Yes, I let my daughter watch too much tv, she plays on her tablet for too long, she eats sugary foods like Poptarts & Oreos, we don’t spend enough time outside, I sometimes look at my phone instead of watching her play, some days I say ‘no’ when I should say ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ when I should say ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ when I probably shouldn’t have said anything at all. Our house is always at least a little messy and we rarely eat dinner at the table. And her lunches never look Pinterest-worthy.
But, I also play whenever I can, encourage her to exercise her imagination, read stories with her, help her with her homework, make sure she has food to eat, offer her comfort when she’s sad, and all the thousands of other little things good parents do that don’t make for viral posts.
I specify moms, in particular, because dads tend to be held to different standards. My husband has talked about this absurd double standard with the praise he’s received for simply dropping off a lunch, showing up at the bus stop, or attending a parent-teacher conference. Dads, and step-dads, are still expected by many to be a much less active roll in their child’s life, so they receive praise for even the smallest of tasks, while mother’s are judged ruthlessly for every little thing they do.
I mean, a dad takes his daughter to a father-daughter dance and everyone gushes. A mom glances at her phone for five-minutes while her kid is playing and her face ends up being plastered all over social media as the ultimate selfish mom and the epitome of what’s wrong with this generation. Something is wrong with that picture.
Before you start to judge “that mom” for showing up in pjs or letting her kid get a little too much screen time, try to remember that you have no idea how hard that mom is fighting to be able to do what she does, and you don’t get to see all the other ways that she supports and cares for her kids.
If you are “that mom,” just know it’s ok. If you’re kid is happy, fed, and clothed, then you must be doing something right. Cut yourself some slack and rock those house slippers with pride. You’ve got this.
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© spooniewarrior.com 2018