I am not a perfect mother, no one is, there is always room for improvement. Last night my daughter pointed this out to me, followed later by husband.
While my daughter was contentedly playing by herself, I decided to take a minute to check my email on my phone. As I did so, my daughter looked up at me, pointed to the floor next to her, and assertively said “Mommy play legos!” She was right. Just because she had been content to play by herself, didn’t mean that it was appropriate for me turn to my attention to a device. These days I only have so much time to spend with her in the evenings, and I owe it to her, and to myself, to be present during this time. There was nothing in my email that needed to be read or responded to right that minute. There was nothing more important than watching my daughter’s imagination at work. She had been content to play on her own knowing that I was watching her, but once she realized I wasn’t watching she asserted her need for my presence and requested my active engagement. Oh the wisdom of innocence and youth.
For all of the talk I do about the importance of being present with our children, I admit that I do not always walk the walk. It is a sickness in society today to be glued to phones, computers, tvs, pretty much anything other than the people around us. It is an incredibly hard habit to break. It is so easy to fall into a simple trap like I did last night, to think “oh, she’s busy doing something so it won’t matter if I just quickly check this,” and then checking this one thing turns into reading that article, turns into sharing that article, turns into commenting on that article, etc. Our intentions and motivations may seem, or be, harmless at first, but it’s a slippery slope to losing yourself down a rabbit hole of social media. So I thank my 2 year old for calling me out. For telling me “no, that isn’t ok, I want and need your attention.” She is a wise little person.
Now, admission number 2. Later that night I was telling my husband the story, but I very incorrectly characterized my daughter’s assertion as being bossy. I didn’t actually intend my statement to be derogatory, but my husband very rightly checked me by pointing out that she was not being bossy, she was being assertive, and it was inappropriate to call her bossy for simply being an assertive little girl. Holy moly! He was right. I had just done to my own daughter the exact thing women around the globe are fighting, I had reinforced sexist stereotypes and belittled her actions with the term “bossy.” I am grateful to him for pointing this out. I had actually intended the connotation to be assertive, but it has been so ingrained in society that it’s ok to call a woman bossy when she is only being assertive that I had just done it to my own daughter. The terms do not mean the same thing, and they should not be used synonymously.
Admission number 3, when my husband corrected me, I did not accept it gracefully. I became very defensive. It is very, very hard to swallow pride. It is also very hard to admit when you have done less than your best as a mother, especially at two things I place as priorities – being present, and supporting my daughter as a female.
So this is my #mommyshaming post to admit my flaws, to accept those flaws, and to pledge to improve myself. I want to support all of you other mothers in admitting these flaws. Its easy to admit things like “I sent my kid to school in mismatched socks because I didn’t do the laundry,” it is much harder to admit “I just reinforced sexist stereotypes and language when describing my daughter’s actions.” But we can’t change or correct our behavior if we can’t admit and accept it. So here is a safe place to admit any faults or flaws, and to have support to be better. No judgments, promise. And to my daughter and my husband, you were right to call me out, and to my husband I’m sorry I reacted defensively.