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Mothering Meltdowns, Keep Them to Yourself

Mothering Meltdowns, Keep Them to Yourself

By Chris Jordan

You are not the boss of me! a small, cross armed child shouts in my direction.

Uh, actually, I really AM the boss of you. It’s in my job title.

The child storms off. There is much stomping and eventually a door slams shut.

It doesn’t hurt my feelings. I don’t feel bad for laying down the rules. I don’t feel bad for dishing out consequences when some are deserved. That’s what parents have to do.

My kids are not my friends. Not in real life and not on Facebook either. Honestly I have no desire to see one of them post School is Boring on their wall and then have 372 of their closest friends like it. (In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I have the passwords to all their accounts and have told them I will check whenever I want. Anyone who changes their password to thwart this will be sorry. Very sorry. (I don’t know yet what I would do. I haven’t been tested yet!  Thankfully!))

I know that some people take issue with me when I say that I am not my kid’s friend, because they desire nothing more than to be friends with their kid. I want to be a parent to my kids. Yes, I am friendly. I am respectful. I listen to them, laugh with them, share stories with them. But friendship implies that we are operating on a level playing field, that we are equals. We are not. I am still in charge. My house is not a democracy.  I like to think of myself as a benevolent dictator.

My bigger hope is that by parenting them with loving firmness that when they are adults we will be friends. That they will see the rationale behind my parenting. That they will know beyond all doubt that every thing I did was out of love.

Everything single thing.

*****

I began writing online way back in the dark ages when you felt like you could still be anonymous. Or if not anonymous you knew that it was highly unlikely your neighbors, family, or children would easily find what you wrote. It was freeing, being able to discuss parenting–mothering–in a way that hadn’t been done before. It isn’t that way anymore. Anyone who thinks they can be anonymous online is fooling themselves.

I frequently cringe when I read some posts that people write about their lives. I read them with my hands up over my face, peering through my fingers. But recently I have noticed a disturbing trend, mothers trying to one up each other with their “bad” mother stories. Or mothers who write about their mothering experience as if it is complete drudgery. It is my hope that they don’t realize how it is coming across rather than that being their actual experience.

First one mother might admit that she is a “bad” mother because she doesn’t change the sheets on her children’s beds as often as she thinks they should be done. And slowly it spirals into someone saying that their children don’t even have beds. They sleep in the corner of the room on a carpet square. I am making this up, obviously, but it isn’t far from what I have witnessed online. Bloggers trying to write the next catchy headline, and shocking revelation about motherhood. It has gotten to the point where I sometimes think, you know what? You actually are being a bad parent, take those ironic quotation marks off from around the bad.

It used to be that bad parent stories were funny. They were constructive because they made the rest of us feel better about our parenting because we related. Hahaha you forgot to feed your toddler lunch one day and then wondered why he was batshit crazy at 4pm!  We felt not so alone.

The sticky sweet veneer was ripped off the face of motherhood. And it was good.

Until it was taken too far.

I think sometimes people don’t look at the bigger picture. We all have moments, days even, where one of your children is driving you up the wall. And if someone came by and offered you a set of steak knives in exchange for said child, you’d swap in a heartbeat. You might even throw in some cash. But if all you write about are those days, those bad days, that is all that is left behind as a marker of their childhood.

Gone are the days where I relish in the bad mother stories. I want to read more of the good stories. I want to read about the simple joys of being a parent. Maybe people think those are too cheesy, I don’t know. I want to read people who inspire me to be a better parent. To be more joyful. People who can make me laugh in the face of their bad days.

I remember when my children were mostly small and older, grandmotherly women would approach me in the store or park and tell me how much they missed the days with their small children.  How they were the best years of their lives.  At the time I would laugh, thinking they were surely on the path to senility.  But now I understand.  The hard days fall away, slip through the cracks of our memory.

In the wake of posts where things are written about loving one child best and not being able to imagine losing that child. But the other one? Eh. And whether or not the author meant it the way that it was read by everyone doesn’t matter. It is out there on the Internet for all time. Forever. And one day that eh child will find it and read it. Yes, they will. I can’t imagine that any protests of the message being misconstrued will ease the hurt of feeling like you were the child loved less. And more importantly why take that chance.

So, in the wake of posts like that I want to challenge everyone to write something good about mothering. It is tough, we all already know that. But write a poem, a song, a post, a story or even a photograph that tells what is awesome about having kids. If 15 years from now this is the one and only surviving thing that your children get to read about this time in their lives, what you want it to say? What would you want them to know? I know that I would want my children to read my blog as a whole and feel that I delighted in each and every one of them beyond measure, even when things were challenging. That is the legacy I hope to leave them.

I want to be one of those old, grandmotherly ladies who says that these were the best years of my life.  I don’t want an entire blog filled with essays that say otherwise.

I challenge you to do that. Yes, you! Now! Go! Leave a link to your post in the comments so we can all go read what you have written. Fill me with your joyful stories. Let’s all take a moment to delight in motherhood.  Those of you who don’t have a blog, feel free to tell us in the comment section what is making you happy right now about motherhood.

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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Jen
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Jen

My daughter is almost three (next Thursday… when did that happen?!?) and is very three-ish, but I love, adore…. relish in her hysterically awesome one liners, questions and observations. The other day, she asked me she could see the mobsters at the store. It took me a few minutes to realize she meant lobsters and we both laughed and laughed. I live for moments like that and they happen pretty much every day. It keeps me going in the moments when she’s not so funny. 🙂 Also, I wanted to tell you that my mom was a benevolent dictator when… Read more »

M
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M

Thanks for this.  I, too, tire of the bad-parent one-up-womanship.  I may not love everything about parenthood, but I love being a parent.

Alissa
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Alissa

Great post.  I am usually positive, but every now and then I cringe a bit when I think about my little one reading my blog later.

Here’s my most recent post, written Tuesday:

http://alissajohnnorman.blogspot.com/2011/03/hippos.html

BJG
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BJG

I have two boys, exactly 20 months apart. The youngest is 8 months old today. He smiles and giggles at almost everything his brother does. His big brother does all he can think of to make him laugh, and they are often both in hysterics over a stuffed bunny rabbit being tossed in the air. I sit and watch this interaction and feel so blessed/amazed/amused that these two little people exist in my life. I know that I’ll forget about the sleepless nights and the tantrums, but I hope that I never forget the fun. Tonight while we got ready… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

Good job – I strive to be a parent, not a friend. Why do people always try to be negative and not make other people feel bad that they sorta screwed up right there, with that thing that they did, that they’re telling the world about? What I love about being a parent right now? That my one and only 6 month little girl freaks out when she can’t find mommy. That I am that important to her. And that seeing me can spark a smile. That she has regressed into needing to be rocked to sleep again, which can… Read more »

L
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L

I dont have a blog- so here’s my story- I have 19 month old twins- I grow tired of hearing “how hard!” “how busy”. I love it. I love being a mom and I love being home with them. It IS hard- but I have witnessed every first. I am the one they run to, the one they call out for. At night, as we read books and sing songs, they lay their heads on my shoulder and snuggle in close. They make me laugh. I get to watch them learn everything and then share it with me. It is… Read more »

Leslie
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Leslie

I have 3 kids ages 11,8, and 5.  I often have trouble living in the moment and enjoying the fun times tending to get overwhelmed and impatient by motherhood.  Your post today hit home.  My mother passed away last month and it has been terrible but has helped me to be a better mom in some ways.  I am giggling and enjoying the kids more and more.  I don’t want to look back and realized I watched instead of lived it.    

Lucinda
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Lucinda

First, parents are not friends I totally get and that is how I parent for exactly what you said, that one day when they are adults we can be friends.  I am so looking forward to that day, especially when I see glimpses of the adult my child will be. I don’t blog but I do Facebook.  I see some people negative all the time and it makes me cringe.  There are so many days I don’t post because I can’t come up with something positive to say.  I’m at my wits end, so I say nothing because I don’t… Read more »

liz
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liz

I have two boys, 19 and 21, and I just love them so much.  I am now like those old ladies that approach you and I’m always telling young mothers how cute and well behaved their kids are.  I don’t miss having them little, but I loved every minute of it and I loved the elementary years and the middle school years and high school was just the best and I loved every one of their sports, of which they had many, and I loved going to all the games and taking pictures of all the kids, not just mine… Read more »

Miranda
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Miranda

I don’t have a blog, but I do journal on all the things my children do and say that I think is funny, sweet, silly, whatever it be. So when they are grown we all can look back and read all the small things that slip from our memorys.

Jessica
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Jessica

Awesome words Chris. You made me rethink my issues I am faced with.
Thank you

http://lotsofyears.blogspot.com/2011/03/motherhood-is-happyness.html

Shannon
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Shannon

I loooooove this post! I am a full-time stepmom (i.e. the kids live with my husband and I year round). When I first married my husband I joined an online forum for stepmoms without children of their own. While I initially reveled in trading war stories with women who understood the whiplash of going from single to “married and instant mom”, I eventually had to distance myself from the group. Why? Because I found that the women in the group – fabulous as they were – were just SO sad and SO focused on the bad parts of step-parenting. We… Read more »

Sarah
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Sarah

I love these – the cat shelter is priceless.  If I am 41, does that make me one of those old ladies? My youngest of 4 is 8, and every day, there is a different challenge, a different joy. Right now, I take absolute delight in making in making my 13 year old son laugh. He is bright, quirky, sarcastic, and deeply cynical, and every time I make him laugh, it brings me great joy.

Kelsey
Guest

I often think I get too gushy on my blog. I wish that I was more clever or edgy. Today I am glad to be just me. A blogger and a mother who loves being both very, very much. At least my kids spice it up every now and then with their own brand of hilarity.

MomQueenBee
Guest

I thought I would be one of those women who thought the baby days were the best days of her life. They were not. Right now I’m living the best days of parenthood–and I’ve said that at every stage of my boys’ lives. Here’s one of the examples: http://emptynestfeathers.blogspot.com/2010/12/all-i-wanted-for-christmas.html

asia
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asia

Awesome post :0) this came at a perfect time. I had read on another site about supposed mommy secrets that horrified me (i.e. a mom that allowed her poor diaper rash ridden baby sleep in a dirty diaper night after night bc she was too tired to change it and lying to her ped. Why the rash won’t go away!) I have a 3.5 mo old lil boy that I am absolutely in love with. He is the light of our lives. I love the nights where we lay down head to head and read goodnight moon. He quiets down… Read more »

Jillian
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I’m writing this comment from our hotel room in Disney World. My boys have both been total maniacs, on and off, for the past 24 hours. And yet, my heart just explodes when I watch them have fun here. It’s such a privelege to have this time in my life. I do write about what’s hard for me. But my blog is absolutely a celebration of my kids and this time in our lives.

Jenni
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Jenni

Yesterday I was in a different room in our house than my boys when I heard my two-year-old yell, “Mommy, I spill!” I quickly finished folding the laundry and went to the dining room, fully expecting to find a big mess. Instead, I find my son’s cup and a milk-soaked dish rag in the trash. When i inquired, my son said “Brother fix.” My 4-year-old son had already taken care of it. 🙂

suburbancorrespondent
Guest

You know, Chris, the reason the old ladies come up to us and wax nostalgic about the young kids is because many times it is so much harder with the teens. Or maybe not harder, but way more complicated. I myself pine for the days when all the children were little and things were simpler (although they didn’t seem so at the time). I think it is okay to write the good and the bad, so that our daughters will know when they are mothers that parenting is full of both, that their feelings of joy and despair are normal.… Read more »

Christie
Guest

As a mom of five ranging in ages from 13 to 4, there are always going to be days where I just want to ship my children off somewhere so I can get a moment of peace. On the other hand, I can’t imagine living my life away from the five little (and not so little) people that make me smile and laugh every single day of my life. I started my blog as a way to chronicle what’s happening in our family’s life as we don’t live near any other immediate family. It’s turned into a great way of… Read more »

Jenn V
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Jenn V

Thanks Chris, for the reminder to enjoy the journey. With an 11 and a 9 year old, the speed with which the emotions change: “I hate you-you’re mean! to “I love you so much Mommy” could give one whiplash. It’s good to focus on the love!

Gina
Guest

I love your post.  My family is my everything and I am thankful everyday that I have them……yes, even on the days they drive me nuts. I try make an effort not to complain about my children on my blog.  And actually am trying to make a conscious effort to stop complaining all together……a lot harder than it sounds.  

my post:
likespacecake.blogspot.com

yve
Guest

My boy turns 18 in under a week, mr laid back no worries has suddenly crept up and become an adult, my baby. Big post on him to come, but for today I’m posting about the family dinner we had to celebrate him, the bond between 4 generations of cousins, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. And it is so good. To listen to my niece who I remember clearly as a two year old, tell me about her two year old, to watch said previously cranky two year old follow my patient son around with eyes like saucepans. I was feeling… Read more »

MarieEFL
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MarieEFL

I love that my 5 1/2 year old son gets up with me when I do my exercise video in the morning. He used to “work out “with me, but now just supervises – and calls me on it when I cheat!

Melodie
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Melodie

Parenting now – Friendship will come later.

I always wished my mom was more of my friend growing up, but now I am so happy that she was my mom then, and now we are the best of friends!

Shannon
Guest

Amen, Chris! This is what I wrote this morning about my sweet, adorable girls:

http://mamainwonderland.blogspot.com/2011/03/snippets.html

Navhelowife
Guest

I love being a mom. I love my kids. Even when they screw up, and even when I screw up, I still love being a mom. They occasionally drive me batty, like when the oldest was failing BAND because he forgot to turn in a practice sheet. Or when the middle child hands me a notice about a meeting, for him, two days prior. Or when the youngest decides to play outside instead of doing his homework while I’m at work. And then the oldest gives me a hug in public, the middle one can’t wait to show me his… Read more »

tanjia
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tanjia

At a water park, in the lazy river, my 6 year old daughter was moving through the water by walking and jumping along with the current. The water varies in depth and when she hit a deep section and slipped I was behind her and caught her as she started to go under. The look of sheer relief on her face made me glad to realize that all I wanted was to be able to be there to catch her every time she stumbled and sad to know that eventually she will have to learn to catch herself. I hope… Read more »

Sarah
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Sarah

1. My 9 yr old son (9!) holds hand WITH ME in public!! IN PUBLIC! *swoon*2. I flop down on my 8yr old daughters bed while she’s reading and all she does is put her feet and legs over my back and we stay there reading together…3. When while tucking in and saying goodnight to my 6 yr old and 4 yr old they try to one-up each other in the “I love you all the way to the moon and back….one hundred thousand thousand times…..and then I go to Jupiter and love you from there one thousand billion times…..times… Read more »

Brigitte
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Brigitte

Though I don’t like having to lay down the law, there are indeed those days. But then we also have the days where I get to regress and get silly and have the giggles with my daughter, those moments make me feel young and I’m really enjoying my daughter as a person, not a chore!

Rita
Guest

So funny that you wrote this article when you did, as I wrote a blog post just a few weeks ago about how much I like my children. AND I WORRIED ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE WOULD SAY! Because, it seems like no one ever says anything nice about motherhood anymore.
http://meandmyshortloffs.blogspot.com/2011/03/there-i-said-it.html

trackback

[…] was actually going to write about this yesterday, before I read Chris’ excellent post about sharing the good stuff, but yesterday I ended up in bed most of the day with a stomach thing, and that’s all […]

Mir
Guest

Loved this. I’m in. 🙂 http://wouldashoulda.com/2011/03/26/lullaby-in-the-key-of-grapefruit/

Sarah Clarke
Guest
Sarah Clarke

Most of my friends are child-free and I feel like I have to hide my baby-lovin’ bushel under a light but, ok, here’s the truth: I revel in motherhood. I had my only son at 35 and the hard days – though real – have slipped away in two years of smiles, cuddles and true love. I hate that writing that makes me feel like a ‘breeder’ who has been brainwashed into loving her kid because, good lord above, I love that kid and, haters be damned, I didn’t know what love really meant until I had him. More importantly,… Read more »

Jen & The Amazing Trips
Guest

Chris, you are a phenom. I have six year old triplets and a three year old and while I’ve read many a blog since I started my own in 2006, yours is the only one that I consistently (only?) read. I’ve been enjoying your writings (here, there and everywhere) for years and you never cease to touch my heart in some way. You possess an insight, compassion and sense of humor that is salve to my mothering soul. I know that you’ve been through a lot over the past few years, and for whatever it’s worth, you and your beautiful… Read more »

Tenessa
Guest

I love this. Strangely, I have realized that I tend to blog about the difficult things and decided to make an effort to include the positive things along the way to try to focus on the silver linings and the laughs. Those are the things that help move me from one day to the next, after all. 

https://beonin.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/accentuate-the-positive/

Kim
Guest
Kim

My blog is private, because I’ve had some BAD experience with thinking no one would find me and being so very wrong… I will definitely take your challenge and post about what an amazing little girl I have. But I just want to say I have noticed the Bad Mother trend. I have a two year old, and I’ve frequented a parenting forum since I got pregnant. They usually title the topic “Confessions” or some such. They started with the “I eat tuna and lunchmeat and drink 7 cups of coffee a day!” when we were all pregnant. Now it’s,… Read more »

Shalet
Guest

Amen.  So happy to have done just that yesterday when I wrote about my teenage son.  

http://peculiarmomma.blogspot.com/2011/03/boy.html

Kids grow up too quickly.  It’s important to cherish the moments — good and bad.  

XO. 

Lywanda
Guest
Lywanda

Mother to four – three girls 15, 9 & 9 and one son 13. I had lots of “old moms” stop me. LOTS, can I just say as I mom to teenagers I am amazed at how awesome they are…there are days, we all have them – where I say goodnight them and pray that they will be different tomorrow, or that I will be a better mother tomorrow. There are so many more days where I want to be swallowed up in that moment to live forever in that super mom feeling. I now walk past screaming babies —… Read more »

Jean
Guest
Jean

Chris, please rest assured that your blog has more than successfully expressed both the joys and the not-so-wonderful moments of raising kids. This is one of the reasons I find you so engaging. I know that your large family must surely have those moments where any mom would want to walk away, yet you always manage to tell the tale and end on a positive note. You are great at showing both the underbelly and the glowing side of parenting. I am certain that your children will see how much they are loved when they reread your writing. How could… Read more »

J from Ireland
Guest
J from Ireland

The best compliment I ever recieved was that I enjoy every stage my kids are at. I tell my kids alot that I love being their mother, of course they think I am a mushy gobshite, especially the teenagers
I always tell new parents that there are more good days than bad ones. Lovely post.

Jennifer
Guest

God Bless you for writing this article. You bring up so many points that I have tried to express to some of my mother friends. I see other moms blog or even Facebook about how rotten their children are behaving and I just cringe for that child. That poor child whose private home life is posted online for everyone to see. Thank you very much for addressing this all-too-common topic!
http://the-north-forty.com/2011/03/22/where-there-are-purple-flowers/

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

The parenting moments that make my heart melt: when my 5-year-old son writes out little handmade “get well” cards for his classmates who are sick, when he shows up at school and a big group calls out his name and runs up to him (because he’s sweet and likable), when he hugs his friends goodbye at the end of the day (because he’s not too cool at this age to hug boys…and I know those days are numbered), when he shares his most coveted goodies with his baby brother. It is all the examples of him showing empathy and compassion… Read more »

Kath67
Guest
Kath67

I have 5 kids- 3 biological, 2 step. And I love it! In our house we have it all- ADHD, Asperger’s, adolescence, adult kids, primary school kids, dance, drums, driving lessons, detentions… And they are so smart, and funny, and vulnerable. I am so proud of them and so proud to be the (co-)head of this household. Permanently exhausted, yes, but that won’t last- all too soon they’ll be gone, out on their own. I hope they remember the laughs & the love the way I will.

angie
Guest

Thank you for saying this! It is so timely. Very well said. Today we had a 3 year old birthday party, and it was so cute, and happy, and wonderful. I blogged three short posts about it with pictures. I hope they capture the spirit of what you’re talking about. http://graymattersonline.net/

Carrissa
Guest

I’m apparently the worst mama ever from my 6 yo point of view. Or am I? 🙂
http://the-silver-diva.com/blog/?p=104

hennifer
Guest

Last night I took my children, 9 and 4, and my nephew 12, to see Roderick Rules. When the movie was over my son wanted a high 5. I obliged but asked why, he said it was because I was great for taking them to the movie. My heart so swells and let’s me know that I’m doing something right even on the days it all feels wrong.

Thanks!

Now I must get to bed, I’m so tired I’m crying. Oy!

Ruby
Guest

THANK you for this post. For the reasons you wrote about it, are the reasons I stopped trying to be a mommy blogger and just went back to blogging as if it were my digital baby book for Amber (9 mos). Now I can write and revel in the awesomeness that is my child without fearing to be seen as ‘a drag’ or overly positive. 

Kate
Guest

Thanks for reminding me about what is good in my life and why I had kids in the first place. http://onethirdacrewoods.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-i-love-being-mom.html

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

My 18 month old is starting to throw little tantrums, and smack things when he is angry. When he does, I sweep him up and hug him, and the way his little body relaxes into mine and the smell of those little curls on his head just melts me.