Bad Mommy 101

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Today’s confession(s):

I’m plagued by intense guilt from all the mompetition going around. I don’t participate in it, mind you; however I do rake myself over the coals internally every time I do something on “the list” that makes me feel like a really shitty mom.

Wanna see my list? I’m all about baring my soul today. Some of you should probably stop reading here lest your image of me be tarnished forever.

Bad Mommy Qualifications That I Have Zero Trouble Meeting:

  • My children have become quite familiar with Sponge Bob.
  • Pop Tarts are eaten at breakfast with increasing regularity.
  • Bribing the girls with candy has gotten far too easy.
  • I yell more than is necessary. And then cringe when I catch one daughter in particular copping the same attitude/ tone of voice right back at me.
  • I waffle between encouraging their individuality and then getting lazy and not being consistent about it. They are twins, and sometimes this makes mommyhood hard.
  • See also: I have different expectations of each of them. Which isn’t fair. And I can’t seem to stop.
  • I demand and expect far too much from them at the tender age of 5 1/2.
  • I serve chicken nuggets and pizza more often than I care to admit.
  • I have very little separation anxiety when I leave my kids with MaMa & PaPa (the girls’ grandparents) when we go out of town.
  • I do not know how to sew, knit, or do fun crafty things. When the girls sleep over at MaMa’s house? They come home with things like homemade dresses (in princess patterns they choose themselves at the fabric store),  aprons, sweaters, scarves, and hats, all handmade by MaMa. Apparently I missed out on Martha Stewart 101.

I could go on and on. But I’ll stop there.

Because there has to be a balance, right? So here’s the list of things I try to remember when I feel all Bad Mommyish:

  • I love my kids. Beyond words. And they know it.
  • We snuggle in bed together with books.
  • We play the princess matching game. We cheat sometimes.
  • We have play dates with friends.
  • We go to the movies and out for ice cream together.
  • I supervise cartwheel and dancing contests.
  • We bake together, shop together, and sing Madonna and Lady Gaga together.
  • I teach them tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation of all living things.
  • I teach them about being green, recycling, and how to be kind to the Earth.
  • I teach them that because they are so lucky, they need to share what they have with others.
  • I have spent the last 5 1/2 years at home with them. And while it isn’t and hasn’t been easy? There’s pretty much nothing I’d rather be doing than being their mom.

 What makes you feel like a bad mommy/parent? Do you ever sense the Mompetition out there? How do you deal with it? Leave it in the comments!

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  • Cherry

    My sons are 29 and 27. They are wonderful human beings. They are kind to others, they contribute to the world in their own ways. They continue to learn and grow. They love their mom. I see in them the values that I wanted to see. You would like them even though or especially because they’re not perfect. They were spoiled rotten with love and I yelled at them when I was irritable and tired. I never  did any crafty things. They had healthy meals and plenty of non-healthy ones. In other words, my lists are similar AND they are wonderful human beings. Drop the guilt, saps more of your energy. You and I are doing the best we can every day of our lives and that’s what matters. Perfection is an illusion. If you knew the full, behind the front door stories of the other moms you’d find out all their humanness.
    You’re good Erin. Not perfect, but very good. Own it.

  • Jana Anthoine

    Ditto. To all of it almost. The main one being the feeling no guilt when I leave HL with grandparents to go out of town. I feel none. I honestly don’t even miss him. I mean, I DO but I also crave time alone, whether with other girls or with my husband or just by myself. And he craves time without me. I’ve been seeing so many OMGIHAVETOLEAVEMYKIDFORBLOGHER posts and they make me want to scream: The kid will be ok. YOU will be ok. and it’ll probably be fabulous for all parties involved. 

    I’m a total slacker mom but the bottom line is, if anybody ever said I’m a slacker at loving my kid, I’d have to punch em in the taco! 

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, I see myself here. Kids in front of TV while I work when I can’t afford sitter (guilt). Not baking (I like to but … ), being uncrafty … showing up at school unshowered … feeling like I’m the one mom who doesn’t have her sh*t together. All the other moms seem so shiny, and thin (and blonde). Yeah. Think you touched a nerve, honey! :) What we both have to do is reframe and remind ourselves that being a mom is the hardest yet most rewarding job there is AND WE rock. Because our kids KNOW they are loved and safe (even when we yell). Oh, and we tell the truth. In public on blogs. Yeah. Don’t see many peeps on my PTA confessing their sh*t that way. #high5

    I deal with it now by not comparing. Hard to do, but at the end of the day when I’m snuggling with the spawnz and they say, “I love you, Mom,” that’s enough for me.

    LOVE YOU!!! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Lisa Merrai

    One of the reasons I write, clean and work in the garden is because there is a satisfying, objective result from that “work.”  One thing I’ve learned about motherhood is that there is never a beginning nor an end to the work.  It is a world of the small and infinite aspects of our being as we share this journey with other human beings.  All we can really ever do is flow from the heart…move into your daily interactions from a place of love and don’t ever (EVER) be concerned that you’re doing anything wrong…because taking one step in any direction is a huge, radiant, breathtaking move towards LIFE…and if your girls are in the presence of a woman who is living with heart, even if she’s tripping over every little thing, they are in the best company on the planet.

    • Anonymous


      Thank you so very much for stopping by to weigh in on this. Sometimes I get bogged down thinking I’m “the only one” who has the bad days….if only I could be a fly on the wall at someone else’s house!

  • Courtney

    all those things that make you think you are bad is what make you a normal parent. we all have our own quirks and the ones that seem perfect are probably far from it! I have given up even caring cause our family works the way it does and they can all (pardon my talk!) screw it!

    • Anonymous


      Wait, did you call me normal?!?!!?! OMG! you make me feel better. And you make me laugh! Thank you.

  • Amanda

    The mompetition is awful. We checked out a home daycare yesterday where the Mom went on and on and on about how her child met her milestones early, walked at 9 mo, never had a cold, etc. Meanwhile, my snotty 8 month old was on his hands and knees NOT crawling. She talked about how her child was so advanced bc she stayed home with her. That’s great, but some of us can’t. All I heard was, You’re a bad Mom because you go to work and have to leave your child in a daycare with other snotty children.

    And thats’ what makes me feel like a bad mom…the working. The wanting to work.

    • Anonymous


      Don’t feel badly. One of mine never crawled at all, but scooted around on her bottom. The other crawled, but not til 9 months. Both walked late, around 15 months. But now? you’d never know it looking at them. And I stayed home with them—doesn’t mean anything. Some people are so silly!

  • From Tracie

    I do all of those things (except for the leaving her with the grandparents thing – but if I COULD do that….I know there would be no separation anxiety). My daughter is watching Good Luck Charlie right now, as I type this. 

    But I do the things on the second list too…and I hope that when she grows up, those are the things she will remember. 

    • Anonymous


      We’ve just started watching Good Luck Charlie—only I haven’t paid much attention to it. Is it bad??? oy!

      And yes, I hope mine mostly remember the things on list # 2. Time will tell.

      • From Tracie

        I’m on the fence about it. It is pretty funny, but I don’t love that EVERY single episode involves the kids (and often parents) lying and scheming. Not really the values that I am trying to teach…but so far we have laughed at the funny stuff and discussed the lying and poor choices as they come up. Certainly it is better than the annoying Sponge Bob voices!! 

  • Anonymous

    Your bad stuff just isn’t all that bad and the good stuff–is GREAT stuff. Give yourself a break :-)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the validation, Victoria! You are awesome! ;-)

  • Kate Alkins-Mitchell

    I just had a new baby after 11 years. I have 2 sons who are 11 & 13 and 2 step-sons who are 12 & 13. 
    When I gave birth 13 years ago I got caught up in the mompetition and was driving myself nuts and broke trying to keep up with the new moms I had met at a playgroup. I am an artist, I knit, I sew, bake etc. However, this is just apart of who I am. I never used it to show off or try to be better then any of my other moms I befriended I just did what came natural to me and what felt right for my family. 
    However I still felt like all my homemade surprises and sweet doings for my children were silly in comparison to my friends who could afford to buy and do all sorts of things for their kids. 
    I am happy to say that this time around I am doing it my way and am not allowing any outside influence to sway me. I have learned it all goes by way too quickly.
    The pudgy hands and feet. 
    Little toothless grins.
    The sweet smell of a freshly bathed baby.
    Before you know it they want to jump out of the car a block away because they are embarassed to be with you. 
    Chicken nuggets are acceptable, along with pop-tarts, and string-cheese.
    The laundry, cobwebs, and dishes will all be around tomorrow next week and for sure next month. 
    However the quiet moments when you get to snuggle and rock your little one, read a story, or simply hold them while they sleep go by way too quickly. 
    Its better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. (i forget where I got this quote, it is one of my favorites, but it is not my own)

    • Anonymous


      I love that quote. And you. And all of the thoughts you’ve shared here. THANK YOU so much. ;-)

  • MamaInsomnia

    A few weeks ago, Jack would not stop throwing food on the floor and I lost it and smacked his little hand. Something I SWORE I would never do. It didn’t even phase him. For awhile after though, every time I got stern with him, he’d smack his own hand and I’d feel like crying.
    I think we all commit these violations and sometimes I think those mom’s that seem to have it all perfect are as guilty, if not more guilty, than the rest of us.
    I’m petrified of having #2 because i finally feel like I am starting to get the knack of this parenting gig and pretty soon I’m going to be back to square one.
    At least we are all in it together!

    • Anonymous

      Mama Insomnia,

      We are in the same boat, except I’ve got # 3 on the way. Also? I’ve spanked my kids, so smacking hands? Is nothing to rake yourself over the coals for!

  • Mama Wants This

    I read this a while ago, “There is no one way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one.” 

    All the bad mom stuff up there? Yup, been there, done it, and did it again and again. The good stuff? Yup, that too. Again and again. 

    You’re doing good, girl.

    • Anonymous

      Mama Wants This,

      I think I need to put that quote on a sticky note. And put copies all over my house. You are awesome!

  • Evonne

    I think I’ve committed most of those things from your bad mommy list.  Ok, all.  Sometimes I’m convinced my son thinks he’s SpongeBob.

    Your list of good things is insanely good.  Because of those, you should feel good that you are raising your girls right.

    We all have our bad days.  The thing is, we don’t see other’s bad days.  But it’s hard to remember that when we see a mom doing or saying something that makes us feel bad.

    • Anonymous


      So glad to hear Sponge Bob visits your house, too! I swore I’d never let mine watch it, but….oops.

      And you’re right—maybe if we saw other moms’ bad days? We wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves….

  • Angela

    Your “bad” things are not bad, and your good things are really good!  There is absolutely no way that any one mother can be a million perfect things to her kids.  Some moms are into crafts, some are into sewing, some are great at pretend play, some can tell stories, and on and on and on.  We all lose patience.  We all take short-cuts.  We do the best we can.

    The most important is the love; I really believe that. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much, Angela! I need to try and keep myself in check when it comes to the blame game. And I’m my own worst critic for sure. I just always look around at the other moms and it seems like they have it all together.

  • Stephanie

    I will still be your friend. Sometimes poptarts and nuggets is all nate will eat. I figure some food is better then no food. Also? Mama doesnt have wee ones all the time and wants to make it special or so i assume.

    • Anonymous


      SO TRUE! At least we’re not letting our kids starve, right? There’s always a silver lining. HAHAHHAHAHHAHAH!

  • Veronica

    Not only will I still be your friend, I will wonder if we are actually twins, though I’m pretty sure your a bit older than me and there is also the fact that you are on the pale side and I’m rather brown.. all year round. LOL.

    Seriously though, we need to try to focus on our second lists… those are the ones that mean the most to our kiddos and our relationships with them. Plus, it doesn’t matter what we do, we could be perfect and they will still require some type of therapy and they’ll most likely blame us for screwing them up.. it’s only human nature!

    • Anonymous


      AMEN! LOL. You are spot on—they will still need therapy and not only b/c of having us as parents. And I do need to focus more on the 2nd list. It’s so hard, though. I’m sure you know what I mean!! xoxox

  • Terri Sonoda

    You?  Bad mommy?  Pffffffft.  I don’t think so dahlink.    LOVED your second list.  You are amazing and I’m sure the twins know it.    HUGZZZ

    • Anonymous


      Thanks, babe! Only I seriously doubt “amazing” is a word they’d use to describe me. Normally it’s, “You’re the WORSTEST mommy ever!”

  • Anonymous

    First of all Memaw’s and Papaw’s always do the things we can’t do, because that is their gift witht our children. It does not make you a bad momma that is how it works. It is what makes their visits unique. Nothing on your list makes you a bad mommy, not anywhere close. It makes you normal. Even the mommies who ‘sound’ like they have it all together, really don’t. If you were to be a fly on their wall you would see the moments when they don’t.
    You are a blessing to your babies. Remember that.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Angel. I wish I could be that fly on the wall sometimes. It might make me feel better… ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve kinda (on most days) conquered 2 things on your “Bad Mommy” list (healthy meals and not too much t.v) but have failed miserably like you on the others (I yell and nag way too much and I’m clumsy with crafty things no matter how hard I try).  I’ve also failed on a lot of your “Good Mommy” list.  I miss bedtime stories most nights (the guilt is incredible) and its pure laziness at the end of the day when I just don’t feel I have the emotional resources or patience to just snuggle up with them and take 10 minutes to read a story.  My social awkwardness has resulted in a complete lack of play dates (sadly thats the way it is for kids, the more friends your Mom has at school the more play dates you have).

    I also always expected too much of my eldest son and I still do it a lot (even though I’m aware of it now).  My youngest is 5 and he seems so little to me, I feel so guilty when I remember how much I expected from my now 10 year old when he was 5.

    My other two big guilts are: 1) We moved our kids to the other side of the world away from their extended family and 2) I don’t take them to any outside school sports/activities.

    I’m convinced guilt is just part of being a parent along with worrying about all the ways our children could hurt themselves today, tomorrow and in years to come.

    Thank you for your honesty.  It’s sometimes nice to know that your not the only one falling short as a parent despite your efforts!  For what its worth you sound like a wonderful mother :)  Your girls are very lucky to have you.

    • Anonymous

      Chaotically Me,

      I so appreciate your honesty and thank you for taking the time to spill your guts to me here in the comments!

      I think we all do what we can, you know? And I have a feeling you’re right about the guilt—it’s just par for the course. No matter what, we’re not perfect and there will always be something we’re failing at.

      I fall off the wagon on bedtime stories sometimes, too. Especially now that I’m preggo, I’m really tired at the end of the day. But it’s such an easy/quick way to bond and then feel better about whatever bad things I’ve done during the day.

      • Anonymous

        You know I’ve never thought about it that way.  Bedtime stories as an eraser for anything that’s been crummy that day.  I might make more of a concerted effort to get in there for that bedtime story each night (might lighten the guilt load! eek).

  • Liz

    Not so much yet, but with Kindy starting? I’m sure I’ll see a whole different side of things!

    • Anonymous


      I’m actually hoping for the opposite—that kindergarten will help get my kids back on the right track. I feel like I’ve lost control…they totally have me wrapped around their little fingers! And with another one on the way? I’m toast!

  • Ally Wilson

    Aw, this just made me happy that maybe I’m not so unusual after all. :)

    • Anonymous

         Wait, so does this mean you do/did some of the things on my list? ;-)

  • Jdaniel4smom

    I think the wonderful things you do far out weight watching Sponge Bob.

    • Anonymous


      I hope you’re right—I loathe Sponge Bob, but I finally got sick of arguing w/ them about it all the time and just relented…

  • Jeena Cho

    Did you listen to the recent Freakonomics Radio about parenting? It was very enlightening. One thing that surprised me was that parents actually don’t have as much control over how the child will turn out as we are led to believe. 

    • Anonymous


      No, I missed that and it sounds like I totally need to find it on YouTube or whatever—-help?!!? I hope it’s the truth!

  • Missy | The Literal Mom

    LOVE the word mompetition!  So perfect!  I try not to worry about it anymore, but I’ve had longer than you to get past it – my oldest is 9 1/2.  I think my best advice to myself (and I repeat is as much as I need to) is to do what’s right for each child, regardless of mompetition, regardless of whether it’s different than what I may do for another child.  Each child is different – they sometimes need different application of the same rules, if that makes sense.

    And yelling?  Seriously.  I do everything on your “bad mommy” list.  Yelling is what I feel the worst about.  It makes me cry when I do it (after I’ve stopped being so mad about whatever it is that made me yell to begin with!).  

    Love this post, Erin.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Missy! I hate yelling, too. It’s the one thing I can’t seem to stop. Argh. And from what I’ve heard, it can do the most damage to kids. Oy.

  • Random Blogette

    Both of my kids are with my in-laws for the week in Columbus so that we can have a break, as well as my mom, who watches them every day.  We got a call last night that Paige was sick so we got on Skype so that we could chat. She immediately started crying so hard that she puked on the floor, while my MiL made gagging noises and just wrinkled up her face the whole time. No comfort no nothing. We were horrified. All that I want to do is run to Columbus and bring my baby home so I can cuddle with her, but I just can’t do it. It just breaks my heart though that my MiL is so not a comforting/cuddly person. Luckily my FiL can be. He was the one taking care of her. Going back to Amanda’s working mom guilt, I would so have my kids right now if I didn’t work. I have the constant working mom guilt.

    You are a great mom no matter what! There is always going to be mompetition out there but I can bet you that their lives are so not perfect. They just like to pretend that they are.

    • Anonymous

      OMG, Jayme! I am so sorry that happened. I’m sure that didn’t make things any easier on you. Thank goodness for your FIL!

      I think you’re right—even the moms who seem so perfect? Probably have their issues too, and are just better about hiding them…


  • Lady Jennie

    What?  All your bad qualities are like my normal routine.  Add to that I drank coffee through all three pregnancies and breastfeeding (and strong, and 2-3 mugs).  They had their café lattés each morning.

  • Sherri

    I love this….because I totally get it. And I promise that it just doesn’t stop, this insane we-are-better-at-this-than-you attitude that other moms and the media portray.

    And I guarantee that each and every mom reading this has done AT LEAST ten of your things and about ten that you hadn’t even thought of! But I find at times it’s helpful to think about not only what we think we’ve failed at as moms, but what we do well.

    And you do this well, you really do.

  • Mindy

    I’m glad I came by to catch up and found this. I was just giving myself a hard time last week during the first week of Kindergarten. Sometimes I feel like I’m just not getting it right, then days like today come along.

  • A Mother’s Thoughts

    Twins!!  Wow!!  You should get a medal just for waking up everyday!  Sometimes I think to myself the same thing, How can my daughter 6 yrs. go to my parents and come back with more crafts and stories of outings and what nots then I seem to be able to accomplish in a week!!  Make no sense, I feel like the time and day passes us by with no flinch.  Good job on being the best mother you can be!!