I feel this should go without saying, but judging by the amount of hate mail I’ve gotten recently, apparently it does, in fact, need to be said.
I love my son.
More than anything.
More than my own life.
More than coffee.
I’m not just willing to die for him, I’m willing to kill for him if it comes down to it. Granted, the only weapons in my house are a 32-pound dog and a frying pan, but I will throw both at your face if you even feign that you mean to harm my kid.
So, yes, I love my baby. And I love being a mom. I could talk (or write) for days non-stop about his every adorable facial tic and all the amazing ways he’s developing into a person. Seriously. Just ask my husband, who gets an extremely detailed run-down of what Riker did that day the second he gets home from work.
Me: “Guess what your son did today!? He pulled the dog’s tail and then shoved all the dog hair in his mouth! It was so cute. Well, up until he coughed out that hair ball. But still. I wish I would have recorded it.”
Him: “That’s great, sweetie. Now would you mind getting out of the way so I can get out of the car?”
Me (not moving): “And then he had peas for lunch and it got all over his face and it was so cute that I took 27 almost identical photos of it with my phone, here look at them, and then…”
Needless to say, my life is ten thousand times better with Riker in it and if I die tomorrow, with my last breath I can honestly say that I am dying a happy woman.
Except, it’s not needless to say. Because more than once I’ve been accused of being a Bad Mom.
See, we all have our ways of dealing with the stress of parenting. Some people eat the stress away. Some lock the bathroom door and just sit there on the floor, staring vacantly at the wall for an hour. Some hire a babysitter and head out for a night on the town. I’ve even heard urban legends of strange creatures that do an odd ritual called exercising, where they force themselves to move in a vigorous manner to alleviate stress and maintain good health.*
*Science has yet to actually study these mythological creatures up close since one has never been caught out in the wild. Mainly because most scientists refuse to jog to catch up with them.
As for me? I write about it. For over a decade now I’ve been writing this humor column. It started out when I was that lowliest of low creatures, an intern for a small town paper, and has continued in different newspapers and media outlets across the country as well as here on my own website. And for all those years the main subject has been the same: Finding the humor in everyday life, mostly using my own life as fodder.
And my own life now is all about raising my child. So, I take those frustrating days when he won’t stop crying because he’s teething and those surreal moments where you find yourself saying things like “if you’d just stop poking yourself in the eye, you’d probably feel better,” and turn them into amusing (or at least I hope amusing) 800-word anecdotes each week.
And as the words amass on the page, I can feel myself relaxing, feeling better. I pour it all out. And in the end, it makes me a better mom, refreshed and ready to tackle another diaper blowout (where he grabs his poopy naked butt and smears it on his face before I can stop him) with a smile.
However, writing honestly about parenthood, while it will gain you some fans, also garners enormous amounts of criticism. Because in our society, raising children is Very Serious Business. And making fun of a baby or modern parenting or daring to say that the entire process is anything less than an amazing blessing we should be thankful for each day really, REALLY pisses some people off.
And so I get called a bad mom, an ungrateful mom. And my poor, poor son, who people feel so bad for because he has someone like me for a mom. He deserves better.
I know I shouldn’t let it get to me. But the first thing I learned when I became a mom is that guilt, a lot of guilt, comes with the job. So, I feel guilty for all the regular mom stuff (am I doing this right?) and then doubly guilty when someone doesn’t think it’s funny that I compared my baby to a dog in my column (am I ruining his life just to make some cheap jokes?).
There is nothing worse than being called a Bad Mom. Even if it’s by a stranger. Even if you know it isn’t true.
Because being a parent is hard and secretly we are all a little worried that we might be bad at it.
But that’s exactly why I think it’s so important that we be able to laugh at ourselves from time to time. We’ll go insane if we don’t. Or at least I will. I’d much rather view raising my baby as a comedy of errors rather than a tragedy of sleepness nights. Or worse, as a boring corporate lecture where I have to follow a PowerPoint of parenting rules.
Only time will tell if this particular strategy really did make me a Bad Mom. But until then, I know my son will grow up in a house filled with laughter. A house also filled with a lot of crying, barking and exclamations of “No! No! We don’t eat Mommy’s mascara!”
But mostly, hopefully, laughter.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go teach my son to roll over and maybe, if there’s time, to go fetch me the newspaper.