I love reading a book with a really horrible mother. Evil, abusive, neglectful, indifferent, emotionally distant. I love them all. Because they make me feel like I’m doing something right.
It’s obvious to me, a woman with a literature degree and a couple of very basic psychology classes, as to why I love reading these women. It had to do with my own state as a mother. It also has to do with my need for reassurance in my parenting.
When I wake up at 3 in the morning, worrying about my daughters, it helps to know I’m not one of these mothers. Anxiety as to whether they’re brushing their teeth as often as they should, eating the foods they should be eating, getting the required hours of sleep. Waking with stress over the pressure my older daughter puts on herself. Stewing in the middle of the night about my younger daughter’s life as a person with Down syndrome.
When I roll out of bed at 5:30 to get them (mostly my younger) prepared for their days, it quells those middle of the night fears to know I’m not one of the moms that I read about.
My days and my nights are spent parenting, and then worrying that I’m either under or over parenting. That I’m doing too much or not enough. I want my girls to be loved and independent, so finding a balance between being a helicopter mom and a neglectful hag is my goal.
I like to thing that most days I achieve this goal. But reading about the really bad moms in literature makes me more confident in my assessment of myself as a mother.
Here are a few examples of my wins as a parent:
I’m not evil — I don’t use my daughters as a lure for my serial killing ways.
I’m not neglectful — my daughters have clean clothes and a (semi) clean house in which to grow up. They have parents who love and care for them.
I’m not pushing them too hard — I don’t live vicariously through them. Yes, I relish in my (older) daughter’s successes, especially in swimming, because I remember the thrill of victory. But I’ve been there and don’t need to go back. They are all hers, and I’m proud of her for setting and surpassing her goals. The same goes for my younger daughter (whose goals lately include having the biggest Jojo bows at school).
I’m not denigrating them — I don’t make them feel like crap on toast (at least not on purpose). I try to make them see their strengths and to know their weaknesses so they can get stronger. Mostly I want them to know how much I love them, and how much I want them to have a wonderful life.
I’m not beating them — enough said.
I’m not burning down the house with them it — that’s it.
So yes, I love reading bad moms. Evil mothers. Negligent mothers. They help me sleep better at night and make my days feel like victories.
Reading about these horrible women makes me feel like I’m doing something right.