Return of the Type B Mom

A few nights ago, a great friend came over to ply me with Riesling and keep me company in my current state of chef’s widowdom.

I cleared a patch of cat hair on the couch for her, and grabbed some wine glasses I prayed weren’t covered in Yo Baby. Then she watched with amused bewilderment as my two year-old dunked her fist in my wine glass and licked it (possibly several times before I caught her), my four year-old ate bread for dinner, I threw on Diego around 8 PM just to get them to stop jumping around like hyperactive chickens, and they both pretty much both refused to sleep until GothehelltobedalreadybeforeIkillyou o’thirty.

“I guess I’m not just the Type B mom I play on my blog,” I shrugged, assuming she couldn’t wait to run back to her boyfriend and say WHAT the heck is going on in that household?

I have come to this realization that all these years later it’s not the parenting I still struggle with, so much as the parenting in front of people.

Here in the blog world, we can share only the stories we choose, draw them in such a way to elicit the requisite sympathy or laughs, then end the chapter. It’s kind of a cheat if you think about it: The rawness and authenticity can give the impression that we’re telling all, just because we tell it truthfully. You don’t actually see us do all the so-called bad mommy things we talk about, like letting them watch Noggin for three straight hours, or taking the kids out on a hot June day without hats or sunscreen. Again.

I know in my heart I have awesome kids to show for the decisions Nate and I have made. Even the questionable ones. When Thalia asks Sage which placemat she wants before choosing her own; when Sage accidentally breaks Thalia’s beaded necklace and hugs her in apology without being prompted; when they hold hands to walk down the street, I know we’re doing something very very right.

Photo evidence

But somewhere in me, there’s still this annoying, raging insecurity (go away, insecurity! Haven’t I warned you?) that demands that people recognize me for doing okay. Particularly in a neighborhood where the other moms start their kids on violin prenatally, can afford housekeepers to get rid of the pet hair, and never seem to feed anyone bread for dinner.


46 thoughts on “Return of the Type B Mom”

  1. Trust me – you are home with your children rather then out dancing at the clubs all weekend. You feed them when they are hungry (who cares if it's bread once in a while) rather then being drunk passed out on the couch while they find things for themselves to eat.

    Your girls are loved! That's what matters in the end. Stop being so hard on yourself.

    Now, keep your sense of humor and go share some chocolate cake for breakfast!

  2. Are there Mom's out there who don't suffer from that insecurity? I guess maybe those ones you mentioned, but I wonder.

    Heidi stole the words out of my mouth – It's the love that matters! That is much more important then a pet hair free house. Right? (Please tell me this is true, because we are in the summer shedding season and it's brutal.)

  3. I'm glad there are other 4-year-olds who appear to only ever eat bread for dinner. I have a hard time parenting in front of other people, too. But I also see the indications that we're doing things right – our kids are sweet, usually well-mannered to other people, very loving and quite funny.

    I think a little insecurity can be a good thing as it makes us strive to do our best and not be complacent.

  4. I think (hope?) all moms have those questions… am I doing my best and is my best even good enough? I love the boys and I'm doing my best and I hope that is enough. And if it's not, hopefully that's a lesson to them to choose a better mother next time! 🙂

  5. Last year I was contacted by someone doing a documentary for a Japanese televsion show about “not type A moms”. She deduced that I was one of those from my blog. I refused to participate. Because it's one thing to be a type C+, as I call myself, but another thing to be ridiculed internationally.

  6. The best that I can hope for is that they're somewhat normal…and I guess all things considered, they are. So, I call it a win. 🙂

  7. You can always teach them to eat better (I hear), but hugging an umprompted apology? What more could you want? You may consider yourself a Type B, but you do it in an A+ way.

  8. You are authentic and real, and bog readers get that our posts are only snapshots of our lives. Just like the picture of your girls. You know 30 seconds after you took the photo, Sage bopped Thalia over the head, right? 😉 But the photo is still real.

    Anyway, I think it's human nature (for all of us humans, not just the mamas) to need to hear every now and then that we're doing well at whatever it is that we're investing so much of ourselves in. In the working world, we hear it with a bonus or promotion. At home, sometimes we just need to hear, “You are one hell of a Mother. And a sexy one, at that.”

    So Liz, You are one hell of a Mother. And a sexy one at that. 🙂 (Pass it on…)

  9. So just wondering, does that girlfriend of yours have kids, too? What I find hardest is parenting in front of my friends who don't (or don't yet) have kids.

    Because I was the absolute best parent on the planet before having my own kids. I could fix other people's kids behavior, diet, what have you, no problem. In my dreams, at least. It took having my own kids to realize just how very naive I'd been.

    Now I imagine my kid-less friends watching me and my kids like I did those that came before me, and it makes me very damn nervous indeed.

  10. I hate that sometimes I consider what other people would say before I do something with my girls. Even just at the grocery store, do people look at the Honey Nut Cheerios in our basket and think my kid should be eating the regular Cheerios, not those loaded with all the sugar? probably, but it's all she'll eat for breakfast, and it could be worse.

    but considering other people's thoughts along with my own just adds to the stress of trying to live up to all the expectations of being a modern mom. I can't look beautiful, be top of my career, keep the house clean and smelling like fresh-baked bread, and feed my kids non-sugar cereal all at once. something has to give.

    and it's okay. and we should stop worrying and just do what we think is best. there is no reason we should have to apologize to ANYONE about how we parent. we birthed 'em. we say what goes.

  11. I have the normal insecurity but it is componded by my ex that always question my parental capacities and jugement. The emotions are brutal let me tell you. I think you are doing great….and most days I have to remind myself that I am I good mother.

  12. I could not have been more thrilled to have shared the evening with you and the two loveliest girls ever! (Three counting you;)

  13. Thanks blueschild! Back atcha, love.

    I seriously hope I didn't scare you away from having children. At least you are prepared for the fact that you will need an endless supply of bread in the house.

  14. Just an FYI- Ellyn Satter, THE queen of “how to feed your children” advocates bread for dinner if your kids won't eat what you're eating.

    I try to remember that, since I watch my two year old eat nothing but bread for dinner several times a week. I, apparently, had very similar eating habits when I was a child and I survived. Although I still think that home made rolls are the high point of Thanksgiving dinner.

    I'm pregnant with my second right now, and the sibling relationship is the thing that scares me the most about parenting. I agree that you must be doing something right if your two girls are such good sisters.

  15. But don't you wonder if those moms wonder if they are over doing it themselves? Or if they wonder why in the world their kid need to speak three languages and take violin and art classes at three? (I always think, if they do it all by 6 years old, what's left to take for the rest of their lives?) Those moms who might wish they didn't have to put on real clothes and go out to violin and could instead hang out at home and let their kids eat play-doh like normal three year olds? I'd bet those moms, if they were honest are as insecure as the rest of us. Because there is no right way. It's all a toss up, with us just hoping that the things we do lead to normal adults one day.

    Liz, on my best day, I think I am a B- mother. My girls watch too much Disney, my son plays on my bed while I am on Twitter way too much. We eat out way too often and french toast is considered cooking. I feel moms looking at me in line, when I buy sugar cereal and donuts at one time. I end up at the pool with no snacks and only one towel. I've asked random women if I can borrow a few wipes, although I also give them out too. But? I have amazing kids despite this. Or maybe in spite of it.

    Your girls will be just fine. Many other kids survive on bread and TV their entire childhoods.

  16. Issa, you've just described me.

    Maybe we're onto something? Maybe there's some reason that dry towel deprivation leads to healthy childhoods? I think someone needs to do a study.

  17. I was the one who forgot to buy mittens every year so that I had to make do with the mismatched ones at the store, never sent an umbrella to school or kleenex when someone had a cold.
    I didn't stay up waiting for my kids to came home at night either. And (But) they turned out amazingly well. So, take heart: everything you do is right and everything you do….. That's what it means!

  18. Mom-101 —
    You and MotherhoodUncensored are the best. Between the 2 of you, I have come to realize that all of us parents are stuck in the same boat. Some of us are lucky enough that our kids are turning out wonderfully even if we f**k things up now and again.

    I remember hiding peas or sliding them off the plate to my dog who sat beside me every nite when I was young. I don't remember the nights my mom let me eat bread or popsicles, as I sometimes do. But I'm sure she did. We tend to remember the 'bad' things more often than the good.

    I love knowing that I'm not the only mom whose kids get away with too much – because at that moment – I need a break so they can make their own rules.

    They love eachother and they love their parents.

    *Ironically, my verification word is AMUCTE –

    as in, my children have been know to run amucte and do whatever they want.

  19. I think motherhood forces us to confront our Type A personality and need to control everything. If we manage to slip to Type B and accept that we can't control it all, that doesn't negate the insecurity we feel around others. Just because *we* accept our lack of control doesn't mean those around us accept our lack of control. Being ok with that is a whole other hurdle to overcome.

  20. I'm going to drop my almost-nine-year-old off with you so you can parent her. I feel like I'm doing a lousy job lately…

  21. Someone once told me no one would come to my house and my kids would never have any friends because of the dog hair on the rug. This was, of course, when I was very pregnant with my first.

    All I can say is that person was very wrong – and when I realized that they were the ones without a clue – I was able to laugh and blow the dog hair into the corner.

  22. Thank you! I love this post! I much prefer honest bloggers to those who do cutesy art activities four times a day, have a clean house, and limit their children's tv viewing to 12 minutes a day.

  23. Bread and water is a prisoners dinner. If the prisoners can survive, a toddler can for one day!

    Don't be so hard on yourself. I was really hard on myself in the beginning. It only made me crazier.

  24. I don't think the blog-version of truth-telling is a “cheat” so much as it is narratively interesting. At least, that's what I tell myself.

    I'm disappointed but also comforted to know that the “parenting in front of other people” jitters never go away. Of course, if I give myself the benefit of the doubt, there are very few things I'm comfortable doing with everyone watching.

  25. I'd say you're doing everything just right. Maybe they'd rather play the piano…and if you'd have started them prenatally on violin, they'd have hated music altogether!

  26. This may be the very best parenting post I've ever read. Especially since my kid has been pretty damn happy/smiley all day buuuuuut I can't remember when I last bathed him. Hmmm.

  27. And then, when you are Type A, that can screw your kid up, too. Today we had a parent-teacher conference for our 3 1/2 yr old, and found out that when she gets mad she growls and makes faces, instead of talking about it. And here we've been working on teaching her how to pull herself together, and calm herself down when she's having a fit, and instead we should have encouraged her to talk about her feelings and express her anger/frustration/spazziness. It's just such a hard job, parenting, it's impossible to do it right.

  28. The only people who get to judge you as a mom? Thalia and Sage.

    Everybody else is the audience. *They* are your co-participants in this mom-kid thing.

    You are laser focused on making sure they have the chance to develop the way they need to. Bread for dinner. So what. I adore my kid (and am actually a pretty good cook) but most nights, it's his dad who fixes dinner because I get wrapped up in something and forget about food.

    But *I'm* the one who sat through 2.5 hours of Transformers yesterday, and 2 hours of Ben Stiller the week before.

    All we can do is our best. Yours is pretty damn good.

  29. HA HA! I have to laugh… you are not alone. My son (2 years old) repeatedly dunks his fists in my wine glass. I just shrug my shoulders.

    I too suffer from the same insecurity, but now I really don't let it “get to me” anymore.

  30. My 'hood may be far different from yours in many respects, but those unspoken expectations exist here too, and it's tough to be comfortable shrugging them off in front of other parents.

    The good part? When you find someone who likes you anyway, you know you've got a real friend.

  31. I have many mommy insecurities too. I have an 11 year old and 3 year old. Try entertaining both of them on their level simultaneously. Not good. Either the 3 year old gets planted in front of (gasp!) Spongebob, or the 11 year old spends the entire day on his computer researching cheats for a first person shooter game. Now who's the bad mommy?

  32. I was going to say that you should move to a new neighborhood, because I don't know a single person who's put a 3yo in violin lessons; but then I remembered that most of my friends (and I, I admit) had our kids skiing at age 3. So, so. I tell myself that skiing is something we can all do together, and the sooner the better, whereas we are not likely to have a family concert!

  33. Why is that as Mums we cannot just accept that we do a great job, instead we are full of doubt and guilt, we read too many books telling us what to do and appear to have lost our mothering 'instinct.'

    Give yourself a pat on the back for being brave enough to be a Mum, not just once but twice!

    'Childhood is a journey, not a race'

  34. If it makes you feel any better, my son ate 5 cereal bars for breakfast yesterday. He's two. At least they were organic!

  35. So how bad am I doing if it's 4 hours straight of Noggin? Oh golly… Oh and I'm lucky if my toddler gets the equivalent of one full meal in his body per day. I've given up in that department.

    Thanks for letting me vent in your comments.

    Your girls are loved beyond measure. None of us are perfect parents…

  36. Agreed – 100%.

    Yesterday, at his birthday celebration, my 4yr old opened a gift and promptly declared, “I hate this. I don't want it.”

    Thank GOD it was one of my good friends who had bestowed the gift and just laughed.

    Nonetheless, I was still mortified.

  37. I guarantee that there are Type A mothers out there who envy you your ability to relax. I've had many comments from people who say they wish they could relax like me and let their kids have a bath with 2 wipies and body spray, miss a night of teeth brushing and stay up past 10pm for kids poker night. (mind you, their fingers were probably on speed dial to the DFS…)

  38. I've been a mother for close to 14 years (god, that makes me feel old) and it doesn't really change. Except when they're 13 and 10 you can tell them to fend for themselves when it's dinner time – because they still want macaroni and cheese. (Although they also like tofu, Mexican, and Thai.)I'm still waiting for the unprompted apology – maybe because they're boys????

  39. How's this for a compliment…I wish I could be the mom you are! Especially as eloquently as you write, because in a lot of ways, at least in my mind, I am.

    And that's ok with me.

  40. Oh the insecurity. I need Ed Emberly to write a book called “Go Away, Big Green Insecurity!”

    I gave in to whines and just gave my 2-year-old the whole bottle of gummy vitamins today, lidless, and then he walked away and I forgot about it. My daughter brought it in 5 minutes later, saying he had eaten, oh, 10 of them. Nightmare. Called poison control. No worries. Still – the worst episode of neglectful mom yet. Ugh.

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