Bad Mommy

Yesterday, Zach peed on the floor in his room.

That’s right.  He peed on the floor.  Apparently, Ezra and a friend were pretending to pee on the floor and everyone was laughing.  So Zach thought it would be especially funny if he actually peed.  Have I mentioned that he is working really hard to figure out how to be funny?  Have I mentioned that it’s not going well?

I wasn’t going to write about this because, well, who admits that their nearly eight-year-old son peed on the floor to get a laugh?  But I’m choosing to fight feelings of failure by outing the whole sordid affair, which is not my typical response.  Usually, I just compare myself to mothers whose kids are sweet, well-behaved, and rarely pee on the bedroom floor; and I find myself wanting.

While at a party last summer, I was trying to commiserate with a mother who was concerned about all of the noise the kids were making.  Assuming it was her toddler son who had been making all the noise, I said something like, “It’s tough to get a three-year-old to stop banging the trucks, isn’t it?”

“I’d be surprised if it was my son,” she answered.  “He doesn’t bang things because he doesn’t like to make a lot of noise.”

I knew she was probably right about her son.  He didn’t look like a kid who would be banging toys — and mine did.  But I couldn’t get myself to admit it.

Why was I feeling so defensive?  It’s wasn’t the mother – she is genuinely kind and a good mother.  I think it was because she doesn’t allow television or battery-operated toys in her house. I think that I couldn’t admit that my kids were likely the truck-banging offenders because I always thought I would be more like this mother and my kids would be more like her son.

I always thought I would have better media control.  Before I knew that my kids were going to get up at 5:30 in the morning, and Zach was going to figure out how to watch Ben 10: Alien Force On Demand, and I was going to pretend to be asleep because I’m so tired all of the time.

And I always thought I would stay away from battery-operated toys.  Before Nick gave us the Chicken Dance Elmo doll, and it distracted Zach from his unexplainable baby misery for a full two minutes.

And I always thought that my kids would play quietly and calmly.  Before I had them.

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling bad that my kids aren’t perfect (especially when they are not perfect in public).  And even more time feeling bad about not being the kind of mother I thought I would be.

And I had this absurd idea that if I home-schooled, I might change all that. My kids would calm down, and become learned, obedient darlings who didn’t make poop jokes or pee on the floor.  (Actually, I didn’t think that my kids wouldn’t pee on the floor as a result homeschooling — because it never occurred to me that peeing on the floor was one of the options.)  And I thought that maybe I would become a calm, attentive mother who had all the answers.

But it’s clear to me that was delusional.  And the sooner God gets rid of delusions the better.  So instead of comparing myself to the ‘good mommy,’ and deeming myself a ‘bad mommy,’ I’m going to go to pray for grace for all the mommies.

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  • Wendy

    I think perhaps you may have underestimated Zack’s comedic aptitude. Although he may lack skill in irony and witty repartee, physical comedy and the use of the unexpected, the inappropriate, and the disgusting are also hallmarks of comedy. In fact, bodily fluids are often a central feature of some comic genres (think "Animal House" or "Something About Mary"). Where it’s true that these genres are rarely intended for a mature sophisticated female audience (i.e., women over 30), they are greatly appreciated by the college crowd. Perhaps, Zack knew his audience (perspective taking) and was playing to his base (pun intended). The boys-under-the-age-of-9 crowd may find great hilarity in Zack’s gesture. Where it’s true that if he specializes in this comic style, he may never be able to play church socials, Hadassah luncheons, or the Charlotte Mason Homeschool study group, he may have a great future playing the frat party circuit. Then again, playing the frat party circuit (with or without John Belushi as a role model) may not be the most ideal career choice for a chaplain’s son.

  • Andy

    Why aren't you also grossed out that Ezra and his friend were pretending to pee on the floor? I admire Zach's boldness and shock factor…although, I'm glad I'm no longer living there, as I wouldn't want to clean that up…

  • Deb

    It's so great that I can read about your motherhood failures in my quiet office while my kids are glued to the TV downstairs! Your prayers for all the mommies evidently have not yet been answered :)

  • Rob

    Totally agree with Wendy. For the record, peeing in the middle of a room when you are a kid and probably up until you are in college – from a male perspective – is pretty damn funny – unless it is your carpet that is the new receptacle for the urine. Tell me which guy, let alone any other parent, didn't snicker in front of you or almost wet themselves when you told that story. Tara. It is always funny when it happens to other people. By the way did Zack at least write his name on the floor?

  • Rob

    oh yea… one more thing – we miss all of you yes we still love you.