Every night when I put Savannah to bed, I resolve to be a better mother the next day. Something about watching her sleep, helpless and innocent, makes my heart swoon for her. And makes me hate myself. I promise to do more with her the next day.

And I rarely do. I still selfishly do my errands while dragging her with me, I get frustrated with her dawdling, and we go entire days without me sitting down with her to play dolls, color, or read.

I feel like a horrible mother because of this. I realize there are mothers more horrible out there, but given my love for my daughter and my position in life, there is no good excuse sometimes for my not playing with her. There are plenty of opportunities for me to spend time with her that I pass up, choosing instead to read my magazines, watch t.v., or blog.

I hate myself for this. I feel like she deserves more. She deserves a mother that’s more creative, more fun, more loving. A mother that doesn’t get lost inside herself, that doesn’t have unexplained crying jags, or that isn’t downright evil at certain times of the month.

And I don’t feel like simply having guilt is a testament to what a great parent I am. My father constantly cried, apologized, and lamented his life decisions. And you know what? He was a terrible father. It didn’t help me any that he felt badly about it. I don’t want to be that parent. And yet I often am.

I know exactly how it feels to be disregarded, to be ignored, to be screamed at, to be hit, by your parent. I definitely am not this way with my daughter, but maybe that’s the problem. I think, subconsciously, because I am not as bad as he was, I’m okay.

But, I know I’m not. I need to do more. Tonight I will promise myself that tomorrow I will. But, will I?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You are being too hard on yourself. We all have those moments in which we question how good our parenting skills are. You love your's very obvious. You must do things for yourself or you will grow to resent you child. Of course, that doesn't mean ignore her either. I would suggest setting aside some time everyday to do whatever she wants to do. Even if it's just will mean so much to her. She will carry those memories with her forever.No mother is perfect. We all have our bad days.

Posted by: Denise | 04/22/2006 at 01:22 PM

Lena I have the same problem! I feel I am so wrapped up in myself I do not do enough with my kids. I think it is because I am not living up to the standards I set for myself that I would not be anyhting like my parents. I think the guilt builds thick when you are not doing exactly what you said you would. Every night I pray that I can have more patience and a open mind to spend time with them. Every morning I forget! I try to! Your daughter has a great mom and is lucky to have you with her one on one a lot of the time. Some moms just can't put in themselves to get down on the floor and play, I can't I hate playing dolls, legos,board games. It just does not sit well with me. There is a good book I found at Borders in the parenting section. It is a thick little yellowbook.It is called 1001 things to do with your toddler. It has great ideas it it when you can't come up with your own. Take it easy on yourself and know you are a good mom!:)

Posted by: mommyof4 | 04/22/2006 at 02:24 PM

(((Lena))) I do the exact same thing. And I go over the day and things I regret doing or not doing and promise myself tomorrow will be different.....and a lot of times it's not. HUGE mommy guilt. I think it is very easy to be incredibly hard on ourselves. Try not to be.

Posted by: EE | 04/22/2006 at 02:58 PM

I do the same thing at times. I am not strong on play....I felt great relief when my 2nd got old enough to play with my first.Mary, mom to many

Posted by: owlhaven | 04/22/2006 at 03:28 PM

If Renee thinks that you are a wonderful, loving, caring, mom-of-the-year, then guess what you must be! We all know how critical and honest our mutual friend can be. She is also a great judge of character. I've only heard amazing things about you as a mother. Therefore, I'm forced to disagree with you. You are way too hard on yourself. I think S. is lucky to have you as her mommy!

Posted by: hook | 04/22/2006 at 04:00 PM

Lena, you HAVE to take care of yourself in order to take good care of your child. This must be a hard balance to keep. I know that even with my husband sometimes I find it hard to balance myself in the relationship and still take care of myself enough. Then, if I forget to take care of myself, we suffer... SO, read your magazines, blog, etc. guilt free because from what I have read on your blog you do take good care of your daughter and you probably do know what the balance of both needs to be. If you don't think you do have the balance then take care of what parts need attention. If you can do your thing without guilt then you won't find yourself lamenting to your child (like your father did) and you will find yourself more present for your child. This is what I hope...

Posted by: Jessica | 04/22/2006 at 05:35 PM

At the end of the day, your child is loved. She's fed, clothed and bathed. She's special to you and she knows that. She's adored and cared for and loved. And you know what? In 100 years that's all that's going to matter.

Posted by: mama_tulip | 04/22/2006 at 07:27 PM

I so want to be your best friend and raise out kids together. I feel like that a lot. I had a tough childhood and vow like crazy to make my daughter's awesome and bring up a healthy happy confident girl yet, I get diverted into magazines, tv and other things becaause I'm so ADD and then I look at her little face that just wants my attention and I think...I can do better than this. I'll try tomorrow too.

Posted by: Stefanie | 04/22/2006 at 08:23 PM

it's amazing how connected we all are. just a couple of hours ago, my husband pointed out (very gently) how our #2 girl isn't getting as much attention as our #1 boy did when he was her age. the more i think about it, the more i agree with him. just because i have the valid excuses of being "too tired" or "too busy with #3 (and the last one, so help me god!) or the famous "i need to take care of myself, too, you know!" does not justify the lack of attention that the middle child tends to experience. bravo to you, lena, for your insight and awareness which, in my humble opinion, is what makes for a good parent. in the end, it's you and only you who can judge if you are doing things 'right' or almost-right. i will never be perfect, much to the dismay of my perfectionist evil twin, but i am perfectly aware of my shortcomings - bouts of guilty complex included. as i gently remind myself to do the best i can with what i am made aware of, i am at peace. more or less.less.;-)

Posted by: iKat | 04/22/2006 at 09:29 PM

I would hate to be a smothered kid. My parents both worked full time and I loved it. Loved being free to do what I wanted, to be able to day dream, read, climb trees and just hang out. It was nice doing stuff with my mom, but I actually like doing stuff with my parents Much Better now than back then.

Posted by: Sam | 04/23/2006 at 10:13 AM

From the pictures that I have seen your daughter seems to be fine. And yes I think as a parent we are all very selfish at times. My son was 4 when we left his dad and 5 when I started college. Felt at times that his demands were just too much. But in the end all things being done were for him so I didn't beat myself up too much. Just give her the time when you feel you can and love her lots. Love is the key and you do love her, I've read what you write and that much is for sure.

Posted by: Reverberate58 | 04/24/2006 at 04:11 AM

I have been re-reading and coming back to this post trying to think of a good comment. It's hard because I want to make you feel better but we both know that there are things we do in fact need to work on. I could give advice lol, but um, well I need to work on the exact same thing. You already know what you need to do and I'm sure this is just one of those times where you are feeling particularly down. I've seen you with S and you are a great MOM and it just needs balance. You can't feel guilty for not doing things ALL the time, you do get days when you can say TIME OUT. Let's watch Oprah. ;0)Good moms feel guilt. I don't care how much you do, we all have things we feel guilty for. You have stopped a cycle and of that you should be proud. Anyway with time comes progress. Love you Lena and you know S is a happy, healthy little girl that KNOWS she is loved unconditionally. That is all you can ask for.

Posted by: Virenda | 04/24/2006 at 11:44 AM

Ah, the Mommy guilt. It's amazing what we put ourselves through. No matter what we do, it seems we can never be enough. And it's never the outside world standing there criticizing us. We are always our harshest critics.I can tell how much you love your daughter. I love your monthly letters to her and have begun writing them to my kiddos, thanks to your example. What a legacy of love you're leaving for her.I'll just give you some of the best advice I've ever been given concerning motherhood. Even when you're not where you think you ought to be, you're still a good Mom. You're just trying to figure out what "good" looks like today. And believe me, it changes. Some days it means playing legos with my boys and painting toenails with my girl. Sometimes it means popping in a movie for them while I take time for me to read, soak in the tub, whatever. This is because I learned a long time ago that these kids were sent to ME as a mom, not for me to be supermom, but because I'm me. And if I'm falling apart and losing ny sense of self in Mommy oblivion, I'm failing them just as surely as if i didn't try at all.So, I'm not sure I'm helping. Just know that, as you think about what you want to do better, "good" moms don't have to be supermom every day. They just do their best and figure out what "good" should be on a day-to-day basis. Don't let the Mommy guilt get to you.

Posted by: Heather | 04/24/2006 at 12:37 PM

I have come to post a comment about 8 times. I have read this entry atleast 80 times. I think I struggle to find what to write because you have provoked me to look at myself as a Mom. I have read your blog for sometime now, I have read the posts about your life, your husband and your daughter. I have seen who you associate with in real life, and have always admired you. I know that you weren't looking fior any of that by posting this, you don't need me to say "your so awesome, your the best ever" atleast I don't think so. But from the glimpse I have had into your life, I have appreciated your balance in life, you manage your family life, your personal life , your relationships, so well. You aren't perfect and you don't pretend to be. You just do what you can and recognize that just like everybody, there is room to improve. It is important to have bad days, so we can fully recognize and appreciate the great days.

Posted by: Linsey | 04/25/2006 at 11:16 AM

I feel the same way...I feel like a general in an army and why on earth would I want to talk to my children they way I was spoken to???? Tomorrow we will do better....

Posted by: Ditsy Chick | 04/25/2006 at 02:06 PM

Oh, Lena. I know that it won't help, but I think we all constantly promise ourselves that we will be better wives/mothers/friends/daughters/coworkers/bosses/neighbors/etc. But there's a limit. The most we can do is try. I know that's probably not helpful, but know that I feel this way constantly (though not about being a mother...yet), and I know that many other women do, too. I'm certain that you're a wonderful mother, but the only one who can convince you of that is you.

Posted by: Caryn | 04/25/2006 at 05:34 P

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