I was an insane mother. I worked full-time building our businesses, which required quite a bit of travel, while raising two daughters. So, overcompensation for this personality type was a must! If my girls were going to be subjected to seasons of a busy, pop-in, pop-out mother, then I determined that when I was home I would be over the top. I sewed their Halloween costumes (yeah don’t follow my lead, store-bought is great), baked and decorated their birthday cakes, and spent hours with them handcrafting Christmas ornaments on two hours of sleep.
I’m not recommending this; I’m just sharing the details of my guilt-ridden, crazy mothering and overcompensating life. The year I made a portable doll bed (large enough for a small infant) for my four-year-old so she could take her baby on the “I’m traveling with my mom on a business trip so she doesn’t feel guilty” plane ride, I began exhausted. I had finished that doll bed at approximately 2:00 am the morning of our departure. Yes, bad move to begin a business trip with a four-year-old.
We sat at the airline gate.
Patiently awaiting our boarding call with my girl primly holding that bed in her lap, baby doll inside. Periodically she would reach over the sides to tell her sweet, little thing, “We will get on the plane soon, just take a little nap, honey.”
I was staring at the ceiling racking my brain trying to remember if I’d packed the work docs I needed. Did I have the rental car confirmation? Oh and directions to the auditorium once we got there… Big sigh, at least we made it to the airport.
When our seat section was called, she grabbed the handles of the portable carrier holding that doll out in front of her little legs. I gathered the rest of the pile pack-mule style and headed toward the gate. I told her to follow me with the four-foot rule. That was not a literal four feet; it meant that if she lagged further behind than she could make up for with four of her little steps then I’d be adding her to the armload.
Wanting to be the perfect, little mommy she was, she said in a very grown-up voice, “I will Mommy. I’m just taking care of my baby.” And she did.
As we boarded the plane we paused for the folks in front of us so they could load their carry-ons in the overhead bins. We were only two rows away from our seats and my eyes were merely on our destination when I heard two ladies who had just been seated in the row in front of ours “tsk-tsk.” You know that one. It was followed by whatever they are disapproving of.
One could not help but overhear the very purposefully loud conversation about some mother who should never let their little girl do whatever she was doing. What was she thinking? I began scanning mother after mother to find out what exactly this terrible lady was doing. The one in front of me looked ok by me. Seated a few rows ahead, a mom was getting out a bottle and trying to calm her baby down…nothing wrong with that! I was just not sure who they could be talking about…
The folks in front of me moved so I finally arrived at my seat, ushering my girl in first then unloading my cargo. I got her settled, buckled her in and then myself. That’s when I realized the women in the seats in front of me were still “tsk-tsking.”
What in the world was all this fuss about?
I listened more intently and I realized it was me!
It was me that they were having a massive coronary over! They thought I had let my four-year-old carry a real-life, baby human…banging that carrier against almost every seat as she made her way down the aisle. They were so very sure I had lost my ever-loving mind and that the infant in my four-year-old’s care would be left with brain damage.
Well, this sleep-deprived mother had absolutely no patience, understanding, or filter at that moment in time. After all, had I not spent the better portion of the night creating this delight for my little girl? How dare they judge me?
Swiftly yanking the carrier from my daughter’s arms (the look of sheer terror on that child’s face still haunts me), I unbuckled my seatbelt, lunged into the aisle, and thrust that carrier into the “tsk-tsking” ladies’ laps!
Completely startled, they looked up at this out of control mother who stated loudly enough for the entire plane to hear, “Next time you judge a mom make sure you get all the facts!” As they looked at me, then back at the doll, then with incredulity at one another, I grabbed the handles of that baby bed and removed it from their laps. I plopped back down in my seat and returned that carrier to my girl as quiet fell over everyone within three rows. No more “tsk-tsking.” In fact, no more anything from the two in the seats in front of me!
We spent the rest of the flight in cordial hiding except for the three times I had to take the “mommy I need to potty” walk to the bathroom. I chose to go to the one in the rear of the plane so that I didn’t have to pass my new “tsk-tsking” friends in front of me.
We landed, exited the plane, and went our various ways. I actually felt pretty good about defending my motherhood. In fact, I had defended all mothers.
I imagine there were several things about my mothering that these ladies felt the need to examine. My life was not cookie-cutter, but that didn’t make it bad. But I, like every other mother who was juggling life pressures, occasionally needed a pat on the back. That day, as I exited the airport, I decided that if no one else would, I was going to give myself one. I was going to do mom life my own way, and it really was good.
Mama, start here for more encouragement:
Your Bad Kid Doesn’t Make You a Bad Mom
Raising Great Girls: How to Do the Job with Darlene Brock
Every Mom Needs Her Own Highlight Reel, This Is Why
Stop Comparing Your Mothering to What You See on Social Media
Advice on Technology Safety for Kids From a Licensed Psychologist
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