Dear Helicopter Mommies,
This is what Henry had for breakfast today. Processed cheese on the counter top.
Elissa Strauss put a name to what I've proudly worn on my sleeve as my "mama identity" since day one (I didn't even cry when I scalded my firstborn with boiling water. It was awful, sure, but these things happen.) She introduced me to the concept of the "bad mother:"
"Born in the sanctimommy’s shadows, the bad mother is everything the perfect breast-feeding, plastic-avoiding mom is not. Bad mommies don’t obsess over things like screen time or nap schedules, they sometimes choose adult conversation or sex over being with their kids, and they don’t feel guilty for serving rotisserie chicken and non-organic broccoli three nights a week."
But then, Strauss went on to effectively and eloquently school me on how my bad-mommy pride was just as stifling and alienating as your kids' ironed sundresses and natural peanut butter. What I thought was a cool, laid back persona was actually just a messier way of being smug. Being a mom is my greatest accomplishment, but, more importantly, my deepest and most terrifying challenge. What if I screw this up? What if I screw them up? What if they have unprotected teenage sex? What if they get in cars with drunk drivers? What if they develop eating disorders? What if they lock themselves in the bathroom and cry hot, silent tears late at night? What if they drink too much and let the wrong guy walk them home? What if they grow up and don't like me? Something tells me you have thought these same thoughts. Again and again and again.
We both just love our kids a whole lot, don't we?
So, Helicopter Mommies, today I am writing to say, you're doing great. Really. And to admit that when my kids go out in public with dark orange Dorito crust on their shirts, I am embarrassed, even if I say I'm not. And, finally, those school-bus cookies with their impossibly tiny stop signs you made last week for the first day of kindergarten? They were stunning. I'm sorry I didn't say so sooner.