I’m a Terrible Mom and That’s Why I Like It So Much

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A toddler hugging his mom.I’m good at other things.

I say this a lot, usually around parenting and domesticated type things that I resist or am terrible at (baking, cleaning, ensuring my children shower regularly). I say it with a bit of humor, giving myself and others some grace around all the nonsense we’re expected to care about and meticulously carry out. 

When I say “I’m a terrible mom,” I’m mostly joking. I don’t like to follow directions. I don’t like being told what to do. I question everything. I’m a little stubborn and a lot snarky. I don’t think I’m a terrible mom, but I know that I am consciously not trying to fit the mold of what some (myself included for a very long time) might consider a “good mom.”

I curse. I allow sugary Starbucks drinks to count as breakfast. I do very little regulating the movies, and TV shows my kids watch (yes, it’s a little embarrassing when your 4th grader quotes The Office, but it could be worse).

And also, I love being a mom and modeling all of those traits for my kids in a very deliberate way.

I declare myself an Etsy-Mom among the debate of whether you’re an Amazon-Mom or a Pinterest-Mom. I appreciate homemade stuff, just as long as I don’t have to do the making. In fact, in most areas of parenting where there seems to be a binary choice of this kind of mom or that kind of mom. I’ve always created my own secret option #3, some variation that works for me—something that lets me be ME at the moment while also being deliberate and thoughtful about future implications. 

Attachment parenting or parenting on a schedule, working mom or stay-at-home mom, strict parenting or the pushover, all organic, healthy food or processed junk food, arts and crafts, or TV. We see things as all or nothing in many scenarios, and they rarely fit the way we’d imagine.

I don’t fit into a single box, and you don’t either. So I think we should all stop trying (not trying in general but trying to shove ourselves into an ill-fitting box).

I’ve said this before, but it feels relevant whenever I’m writing about parenting (career or life in general). The times in my life I had felt the most disconnected to who I am and what I want were when I was trying to live up to some standards or expectations that aren’t mine. When I assumed that if I believed one thing, I must always behave in a corresponding way. That’s exhausting and simply not the way I’m wired. The times I’ve tried to be the “good mom,” I failed. I was miserable, and my kids were miserable. They had a mom trying to play a part, one she was not made for.

The further I’ve gotten away from that belief, the more I can understand, embrace and embody the idea that I get to be a bunch of [potentially conflicting] things simultaneously. I can be two things at the same time, even if other people might consider those to be mutually exclusive.

Not only am I super clear about what kind of mom I am, but I also make no apologies for it. I’m not trying to compel anyone to believe what I believe or behave how I behave, but I do hope that seeing me as the “terrible mom” lets others (including my kids) feel like they too can show up exactly as they are. 

If I tried to be the kind of mom I assumed I was “supposed to be,” I’m not sure I’d have fun. If my kids assumed they had to be the kind of kids they were “supposed to be,” I’m not sure they’d be able to figure out who they are and who they’re becoming. Don’t be a jerk to anyone (including yourself), and if the version of you that feels most authentic also happens to be the one that’s terrible “on paper,” that’s ok!

This isn’t an excuse to ignore everything you don’t like and do what you want. I hate making lunches every day, but I still do it. I hate enforcing showers and cleaning rooms, but I [mostly] still do it. This “terrible mom” thing isn’t about being lazy or acting on a whim. It’s about thinking about who I am, what I need and want right now, and how I want that manifest in the future. It’s deliberate, not haphazard, and you get to create it.

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Lauren Schwarzfeld was born and raised in Yorktown, and aside from college in Boston and a few months living in New York City, she has spent her entire life in Westchester. She has lived in Mt Kisco with her husband Karl since 2006, where they have three kids, Mia (2008), Jacob (2009), Abigail (2012), and two dogs, Edna (a four-year-old beagle) and Felix (a one-year-old pitbull-lab mix). Lauren is a writer, coach, and leader in community engagement. She helps women rediscover their strengths, passion, and confidence to reclaim their spot in their life and step outside the box of perceived expectations. Her goal is for women to create a future that is authentically and unapologetically their own. As the Chief Operating Officer at (914) Cares, a local non-profit, she combines her business background with a passion for volunteer work and desire to care for the community around her. Connect with Lauren on Facebook or through her website!

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