It is like the worst feeling ever.
Being judged as a mom extra-sucks. Some of us are able to rise above and not really give a shit if people look at us askance when the kids are taking a tanty in Target, eating crackers off the floor, or using a pacifier at the age of four.
It sucks because none of us moms wake up in the morning and ask ourselves, “Hmmmm, how can I fuck up my children and skate deliriously close to the edge of my sanity today?”
I promise you. None of us wake up and want to deliberately do crap that messes up our kids and gives them fodder about which to chat with a therapist like me later in life. But sometimes we have to pick battles for our own sanity. Sometimes we pick the wrong battles. It sucks, but being judged for it sucks even more.
So there was this one time I took the kids to the dentist. Emily was three and it was her first visit to the dentist. I was enormously proud of how cooperative and well-behaved both of my children were for their exam. The hygienists even commented on what great kids they were.
Then the dentist came and gave their mouths the once-over. He mumbled some stuff about Jack needing braces in a few years, and I went off to my happy place in Hawaii on Kailua Beach, because I could not deal with the thought of financing braces.
Then he checked Emily’s teeth.
“Ohhhhhh kaaaayyyy,” he said. He counted her teeth, asked her to bite down and then looked up at me. “Does she. . .?” He asked, wagging his thumb at me and miming thumb-sucking.
“Oh, no!” I gasped in mock surprise and horror. “She doesn’t suck her thumb. Never has.”
“Aha. Well, she has a pretty significant gap here in her bite,” he pointed out. “I guess we will just have to wait and see how her adult teeth grow in.”
I collected my perfectly behaved children and left the dentist’s office with a stone of remorse in my gut.
I hadn’t actually lied to him. I hadn’t. It was 100% true that Emily has never sucked her thumb. But she did still use a pacifier to go to bed at night. And sometimes for naps. And sometimes would sneak it during the day while she was watching television and I wouldn’t necessarily say anything about it because it gave me three or four minutes of peace.
So, I don’t know. On a scale of 1-10 in the spectrum of motherhood foibles, I don’t think it is the worst thing I’ve ever done. Actually I don’t think it is really that bad at all. I got over it and I didn’t lose any sleep.
But I do wonder why I was so afraid to be judged by that dentist.
And I wonder why that feeling of mommy-guilt and shame is so difficult to bear.
Have you ever told a lie about your parenting to cast you in a better life? Please share in the comments below! I love hearing from you! xoxoxo.