Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mom Guilt...

“Bad” Mothers

We’ve all been there – that “bad” mom moment. Your voice rises, you speak THEN think. It’s a universal parenting experience. For all the times we stay calm and collected while literally walking on broken glass, once in a while we just lose it.

It happens in an instant, but we live with the guilt and regret of it for much longer – forever if we’re the type to judge ourselves harshly. I am.

I have to admit, as the mom of four fabulous grown ups, I hoped my “bad” mom moments were behind me. It’s not like I’m dealing with pre-verbal toddlers or pre-reasoning teenagers. My kid and I discuss things, we agree to disagree, we’re reasonable people. At least that’s how it is most of the time….

When my first child was born, I swore I would never, ever, under any circumstances say: “Because I told you to….” I hated it when my mom said that to me, and I still cringe when I hear parents say it to their kids. Kids are asking for the how and why of a situation so we should help them understand. Right? Theoretically….

Here’s how the theoretical conversation goes down:

Please eat all your peas.
- Why?
Because they will help keep you healthy.
- Okay.

However when my second daughter was two years old, she started asking “Why.” Not just once. Incessantly. It drove me to distraction.

Here’s how the reality-based conversation went down:

Please eat all your peas.
- Why? Because they will help keep you healthy.
- Why? They have good stuff in them to make you grow big.
- Why? Peas use the sun to create the stuff your body needs.
- Why? That is how plants work.
- Why? So they can grow and get big. Eat them, you will too!
- Why? Because I told you to.

And there it was. Just rolled off my tongue. “Because I told you to” ended the conversation - which honestly was what needed to happen. But isn’t a “good” mom supposed to encourage their kids’ curiosity and learning? I definitely felt the “bad” mom guilt weighing down on me in the quiet left after the last “Why?” faded away.

So fast forward a few decades, and here I am again. Feeling “bad” mom guilt in the quiet that’s left over after one of those not so pretty reality-based conversations.

My youngest daughter Brittany is engaged, and we’ve been joyfully working together on the wedding plans. From the beginning, I swore I would NOT be a Mother-Of-the-Bride “MOBzilla.”

Brittany’s wedding is something she’s dreamed about since she was a little girl. So I want to help her make it the wedding of her dreams, a true memory of a lifetime. Now I fear I added a moment to the memory that isn’t pretty.

My moment was in response to a guest list mix-up that ended up creating hours of additional work. I’d happily spend hours with Brittany choosing bridesmaid gifts or poring over flower arrangements, but I didn’t want to commit hours to cross-checking names and addresses that were added to the list by mistake. It’s a big guest list – happily so – but it’s going to take a ton of work to make it right.

Much to everyone’s dismay, mine especially, I had a MOBzilla moment. I should not have lost my cool, but life’s demands were piling up on me, and I snapped. Not that it makes me feel better, but I’m confident I have company in my “bad” mom guilt.

The best of us moms have had our moments. We yell when we know better. And then we apologize. But we still feel bad about it long after the kids have forgiven and forgotten. Kids tend to be resilient – hopefully the adult children of regretful mothers retain some of that resilience….

This month, we learn from Renee Kendley how to handle those times when you lose your cool. On page 66 of this month's FAMILY Magazine, Renee tells us to “Talk to your child about how people, even parents, have meltdowns sometimes where they don’t act rationally.”

It’s after the meltdown when we parents need to act rationally. We set the example of how to be the calm after the storm. I’m still working toward that with Brittany.

I am hoping when Brittany reads this blog, she’ll know I want to help however I can with her wedding. I want to be the ideal Mother-Of-the-Bride (I always aim high). But when life charges in and stresses up the works, MOBzilla moments have a way of crashing the party.

In the proper spirit of my rational moment, I’m going to do the “good” mom thing. Apologize from the heart. Beg for forgiveness. And most importantly ask her to give me a second chance, because in spite of all my best intentions, there’s always the possibility it might happen again….

Happy parenting!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FAMILY Magazine's Got a New Sheen!

My recent "Mom Blog" Letter from the Publisher in our April edition celebrates our magazine's birthday makeover (glossy stock) and lets readers into my exciting trek through wedding land with my youngest daughter.  Updates since publication? Sure!  The first update being that the engagement party was a roaring success with a lovely cake from Sweet City Desserts to cap it off.


I love a good surprise, and we certainly have a great one for our readers and advertisers this month. Did you notice? FAMILY Magazine is glossy! We’re putting on our new spring wardrobe. Now we’re all dressed up and lucky enough to have places to go – all over the DC metro area!

April is our birthday month, so it’s a natural desire to do a bit of a makeover. We just keep growing up and getting better. Nary a wrinkle or age spot in sight – magazines are lucky that way.

Moms know from surprises – so we’re happy to have you celebrate our new look with us. Surprises abound in the life of a mom (good and bad - we know!). But there are also things about being a mom that stay the same. So while FAMILY Magazine is slicking up its outsides, we still have all the same great resources you have come to know and trust. All our great information is just wrapped up in a shiny new package.

Let us know what you think of our changes, the good and the bad. Tell us if we're missing something you want to see every month. We are all ears – this is your magazine. We work hard to give you what you want to see each month. Share your thoughts with me directly at Publisher@thefamilymagazine.com. I reply to all reader emails. Promise!

As if these changes to FAMILY Magazine weren’t enough to keep me busy this spring, I have some exciting personal changes happening. My youngest daughter is getting married! So as you read this issue of FAMILY Magazine, I am busy working on my daughter’s wedding that will take place in March 2014. Trust me, when you’re planning a wedding, a year isn’t as long as it seems!

There is so much to be done. Thank goodness we have a fantastic wedding planner guiding us through the details. I will be sharing the excitement over the next eleven months. I’m counting on the fact that our reader moms love to vicariously enjoy a wedding – all the fancy romantic details with none of the work! I’ll be on task for you….

So our “right now” plan is to party. Good start right? Brittany’s wedding will be in Florida where she and her fiance live so a lot of our friends and co-workers won’t be able to attend the grand event. To bridge that gap, we are hosting an engagement party early this month at my house. In true Brenda and Brittany social butterfly form, we are expecting 100 people!

In addition to our local folks, I thought the party would be a great opportunity to invite Brittany’s soon to be in-laws up for a long weekend. They accepted and are coming. So looking forward to getting to know them. Then I thought it would be great to invite her fiance’s two brothers, their wives and children for the long weekend. They accepted and are coming. Yea for family to be!

So that’s fifteen people staying at our house for the weekend. One hundred coming for the party. Starting to sweat a bit now that I see it on paper…good thing Brittany and I are master planners.

Speaking of plans, I completely forgot about meals! I don’t cook. This is a problem. Will be finding someone to help me cook - I’ve got a lot of mouths to feed.

So April for me = magazine update, wedding, party, house guests - what was I thinking? My husband, while on board for all of it, just smiles and shakes his head at me.

Oh well, the more the merrier. It is going to be a great (big!) celebration. I really can’t wait.

Til May, Happy Parenting