Saturday, December 4, 2010

Could I be such a bad mom, really?

So, I have put off writing about this since it has left me completely devoid of any even miniscule slice of assurance that I was doing a good job as a mom, but I guess it's finally time.

During the dinner with friends (last month - yes, that one), one girl praised another for her depth of knowledge about everything to do with raising children. I asked her to enlighten us; she said she needed a specific question. So, I blurted out, "How about this one: How do I curb the incessant whining of my 8-year old son?" (It's been really bad since we moved for internship one and a half years ago.)

I wondered if she would have any good ideas - I have been desperate for help with him. She immediately started rattling off explanations, asking me more in-depth questions about aspects of my parenting style, listening to my answers, and devising additional follow-up questions and explanations, (and really, I was like: do you have a photographic memory - because I feel like I'm reading a textbook while I'm listening to you talk.)

I was on the hot seat. I was honestly fighting tears. Maybe I shouldn't have asked for advice in a group setting on such a sensitive topic. Before I even asked the question I was struggling to feel like I was doing a good job with raising him. I was feeling smaller and smaller and smaller. I could almost feel myself disappearing altogether, it was almost tangible: my self-confidence about my ability to mother was evaporating before my eyes.

It got worse. The girls ALL started offering to help watch my kids so that I can spend more one-on-one time with my 8-year old. (Even the girl who I hardly knew at all, who works full-time and only has teenagers at home.)

Though the conversation was brief, to me it felt like it lasted hours. I began to see clearly, as if spelled out on a large poster board in front of me, all of the personality and behavioral problems my kids are currently dealing with and I felt totally, absolutely incapable of dealing with any of them.

And since then, well, my insecurities stemming from that conversation remain. A few days ago while talking with my mom she said, "You sound like you are depressed." I told her I wasn't. I gave lots of explanations for why it sounded like I was depressed but wasn't.  But when I thought about it later, I could trace all of my feelings back to this dinner conversation with the girls - the one where they thought they were offering help, but really ended up shredding the only existing teensy bit of self-esteem I still had.

Weird how we place so much of our value on our children's successes and failures, huh?

I read this article: Are You a Wimpy Parent? the other day and had an immediate emotional response. I think maybe I am somewhat of a "wimpy parent" - which I do believe can have very negative reverberations with raising kids. (The article has caused quite a stir in my community. I can see why.)


Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so sorry you are feeling so down! I wish I could offer any suggestions or help... But sometimes help can do more harm than good it seems. :-( Especially when it's based on a superficial understanding of the situation! I mean, those women aren't with you and your family all day, every day.

I bet you are a fantastic mom and you are doing the best possible job you can. And if you recognize that there's room for improvement, well, that's really admirable! Hang in there.

Jamie Lamb said...

I'm sorry you're feeling down, too! And when I say I know just how you feel, I really do. I had the same experience a few years ago about my oldest child. A group of well-meaning friends...with me in tears.

And none of their advice helps, because it's you who is living it, and you who needs to have the conclusions. I've read so many parenting books--most of them totally disagree, but most gave me small insights. I got some good book recommendations from lds family services over the phone.

I like to pull out my journal when I'm feeling low. I get out all my feelings, worries, frustrations, ideas, etc. I write, and pray, and always helps. He's your son, and you can do this! I think every mom has at least one child who brings her to tears often! Take it as a compliment from heaven. :) You can figure it out, and I'll pray for you!

Jeff and ReAnn said...

Well I am family. And I can attest to what a fun and happy mom you are. You make jokes out of everything and are always doing fun things. Parenthood is just tough. Sometimes it is just the personality of the kid and has nothing to do with you as a mom. I wouldn't fret over it... I know you are doing the best you know how and that is all we can do.

Liz B.B. said...

Oh Liz. Stop now.
You are an amazing parent and Mom. Just totally hard on yourself and taking these moms too seriously.
Though they were trying to help, you put yourself up as a blank canvas for them to spew out all their parenting methods...and it stopped being about YOU personally, and about THEM and how great THEY are.
I get it.
I have SO many insecurities about my kids, but innately I think I'm doing the best I can.
Stay open to suggestions, but you know yourself and your kids better than ANY mom. So, take it with a grain of salt.
You are so fun and light-hearted and easy-going. I know a lot of kids who would die and go to heaven to be under your roof!

Liz said...

Thanks, girls.


Barb's blessings said...

Just had to chime in and affirm what the others said. You are an amazing mother and your children love you. Someone told me a few months ago that the main job of a parent is to keep their kids alive until they can reach adulthood. There's a lot of truth in that. If you can teach them to love God and love themselves while you are at it, then you have been a huge success. You are amazing Liz! Don't ever doubt yourself. God knew the kind of mother you would be and he sent these specific spirits to YOU! He doesn't make mistakes.

Love you,


Amanda said...

You are so not a wimpy parent. If you are questioning your ability to understand and raise your kids the right way, none of us have any hope! You are a wonderful mother, sister, wife, teacher, mentor, daughter, friend, and person!! You just need some sunshine on those cloudy days to help you see clearly! You have to believe me because I have known you for so long.