Dear Perfect Mother

Dear Perfect Mother,

I have questions. You always have answers. Can you start by telling me when my children should be potty trained, eating solids, or taking their first steps? At the hospital, were you lucky enough to receive a pamphlet detailing precisely how long all babies should nurse on each boob?

The rest of us numbskulls (call us “Medium Mothers”) play this waiting game — when to wean, sleep train — all the sticky stuff that requires compassion and work. You live proactively. Your black and white rules keep you prepared.

PerfMo, too bad I did not have you advising, shaming, scaring me every step of the way! Some of my lowest moments were those of not knowing: when to give Tylenol and when to wait… other kids weaned at 12 months but mine was going strong at 24… little gals around us use the potty, but my son stands in the tub discussing diesel and subway trains as a urine stream flows fast from his penis, totally unaware.

Perf, I read volumes and take oodles of classes, but your one-size-fits-all wisdom has eluded me. Did you receive it in a bible-like guide? A paint-by-number? Was it beamed directly into your brain?

I bet you knew exactly what to register for, had no last-minute Amazon orders, midnight runs to the store, or fights with your partner over division of labor. Your kids instantly slept through the night while colic handed me my ass. Must have been the way I swaddled or nursed or bounced or breathed that made him wail all those hours, right? How do you know when their 3AM cries are due to teething, belly upset, or simply because they miss you? You’re blessed with baby telepathy, while I agonize over the blinding monitor.

You took away the pacifier as planned, and insist my son’s monkey lovey will SCAR! HIM! FOR! LIFE! By six months, did you decide it was high time she should sit and then prop her up, scoffing at the hippies who let their kids figure it out? When is the hard line for transitioning to a bed? Two years? Two years, two months? Two years, two months, two days and two seconds?

When did you decide you were NOT buying One. More. Diaper… and punish your son into achieving your goal? When he had accidents, I’m curious if you reprimanded him with the same shameful finger wagging you use at the Medium Mothers who don’t follow your potty plan? What might have happened if you waited for his cues? Never mind – hypothetical questions scare the crap out of you. I pray your kids learn long division with the rest of ‘em. Otherwise, that might really twist your panties out.

Oh PerfMo, where were you during my labor? I didn’t know when I’d move from seven to eight centimeters. I was without pain meds and felt EVERYTHING. Dangling in an unfamiliar orbit, I hoped the rumored, ten-centimeter finish line would be there. You would’ve done it better. Please criticize me publically and tell me how. Here’s your big chance.

Whip out your judgments viciously as only you can do online when some innocent mom asks for help. What if your CAPS LOCK button quits? That would give you a tick and a stutter. And if I were to take away your exclamation point – how might you unleash your venom?!?!?! Bully in the comments section… tucked safely behind your Macbook’s glowing apple, poised on the home-row of your Dell, Droid thumbs ready for attack – which of us moronic, unfit, lazy Mediums make the cut? Swing? YES! Walker? NO! Stomach sleeper? DAMAGING! It would make my life so much easier to have clear lines everywhere like you. I live in such a hazy mess.

Speaking of messes, a confession is in order: The day I brought home my newborn, my two-year-old son was sorely out of whack, desperately searching for his place. My lumpy body was aching, my vagina was on fire, and here’s my son dragging me outside to play bubbles. You would’ve known how to quiet down his big feelings and avoid his messy grief from spilling all over the sticky tiles.

You wouldn’t have screwed up as I did in this moment. Suddenly, hot tears attacked my cheeks. I didn’t want to leave after he worked so hard to quarantine me out there. So I explained through sobs that Mama was having big feelings and doing her best. You never would’ve lost your noodles in front of your kid, Perf. I’m sure your kids will learn some other way to handle big feelings, since it’ll never be modeled for them?

What does the Perfect Mother do when her kids grow up, then bully and shame others? How do you reconcile that “Do as I say, not as I do” thing? It’s sad we can’t support each other, but you have a different plan. I hope you’ll take the time to rip me a new asshole with a comment below. I’m the ideal target, as are the other Medium Mothers I know. From my many classes – I know a lot of Mediums.

My boys on a morning stroll

My boys, yesterday. My 3-year-old with his pacifier (!), wearing his PJs (!), out for a stroll with his dolly (!), also with pacifier (!). Dolly holds his monkey lovey (!) in his stroller (!). And get this – he’s wearing a pull-up (!).

11 Responses to Dear Perfect Mother

    • Beth – Well, not sure if you would be saying that if you saw how many times I had to take deep cleansing breaths this weekend, but THANK U! On the HuffPo Facebook wall after they posted the Pacifier Fairy post, I couldn’t get over how bully-ish some of the moms were. It was really sad to see that many people really only think there is one way to do anything. And lots of moms i know have posted for advice on Babycenter and the like, and gotten vile comments back. Wish the community could be more supportive. Anyway, after the onslaught of both sides on HuffPo, i was inspired to write this. You are awesome for always reading and commenting. Thank you!

  1. Leyna,

    I am so proud of you for calling these fools out! I have two sons from two different marriages and a step son. Three boys, four parents, living part time in three different homes. The judgement and confusion it causes is in others is incredible. I have learned one thing. I love my life and my crazy family. We are, by far, much better at handling adversity and “big feelings” than most conventional families because we have been doing it from the start. I’m glad you put these people in their place. Now, for your own sanity, I think you should ignore them and live your life however the hell you want. I miss you and love ya!

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