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Bad Mothers Anonymous
July 30, 2014 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Motherhood is not all sunshine and jellybeans, and sometimes you do it badly. Bad Mothers Anonymous is a collection of confessions.

Some anonymous confessions of self-described bad mothers:

"When I was suffering from kidney stone pain, my husband was gone at work. I was lunch time and my 3 year old and 1 year old was ready to eat and asked for lunch. I got a whole package of oreo cookies out and said have at it .-Anonymous"

"I am a bad mom. My five year old son kept complaining that he didn't want to sit anywhere other than the recliner because his back hurt. I told him what I always heard as a child, that he was "too young to have a back." About a week later, his urine became dark. Turns out, he had a pretty severe kidney infection. =( -Anonymous"

"I accused my 10 yr old son of stealing $10 from my purse (he has done it before) he lied and said he didn't take it. I didn't believe him. Grounded him and sent him to bed until he tells me the truth. He is sleeping now, and I just found the $10 in my coat pocket. I suck."
posted by Grlnxtdr (84 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, these run the gamut from "I sent my kids to the neighbors just so my husband and I could have sex! OMG!" to "I don't love my 12 year old daughter anymore."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:02 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else getting a jumbled, nearly unreadable blogspot design topped by a "Stay Tuned! We're moving to a new format" message?

EDIT: that's what happens if you click the "Click Here to Read the Newest Confessions!" link. The page links at the bottom of the initial page do work, though.

Also, where do bad fathers send their confessions? Asking for a friend.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:04 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Yeah, and, uh, bad teachers?
posted by No Robots at 9:05 AM on July 30


What the sweet hell is a Worker #4?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Good mindless, "ha ha I'm better than them" doctor's office-type reading, which is what the internet excels at.
posted by Melismata at 9:06 AM on July 30


The website doesn't make any sense.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:07 AM on July 30


Oh, I see. The best way to read the site is not to click the prominent "read confessions here" (which is fucked up) but instead go to page 2.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Also, where do bad fathers send their confessions? Asking for a friend.

Nowhere. You stuff it down deep in your soul and concentrate on having the best looking lawn on your block.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:08 AM on July 30 [80 favorites]


Apologies for that "newest confessions" link, the rest should work.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:10 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


As depressing as real life! Thank you internet!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:13 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "Is anyone else getting a jumbled, nearly unreadable blogspot design topped by a "Stay Tuned! We're moving to a new format" message?

EDIT: that's what happens if you click the "Click Here to Read the Newest Confessions!" link. The page links at the bottom of the initial page do work, though.

Also, where do bad fathers send their confessions? Asking for a friend.
"

Yep. More like Bad HTML Anonymous.
posted by Splunge at 9:16 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


And somewhere, John Shaft excitedly types the URL into his browser, reads the first page and walks away from his computer, dejected.
posted by PlusDistance at 9:16 AM on July 30 [45 favorites]


I am still giggling about the Tooth Ferry. Like it's a boat to the underworld with a three-headed dog.
posted by mochapickle at 9:17 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


I've been wondering if there is any way on Earth I could have kids in some kind of collective environment. It seems like when parents talk about how hard it is to deal with kids, it's because they have to do it ALL BY THEMSELVES ALL THE TIME, which just doesn't seem like the way people were designed to do it, you know?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:17 AM on July 30 [29 favorites]


The "Internet as anonymous confessional" phenomenon has always intrigued me. It's a modern pressure-valve... especially something like parenting, or being a stay-at-home mother - if you are isolated, if you are worried you're not Doing It Right, and it's so hard to ask for help when you know other people will judge the smallest decisions you make. Having a way to let it out without direct judgment is very compelling & probably a kind of therapy/healing.

I was reading recently about a new book, "Cutting Teeth", and the Tumblr the author created (inspired by her book) - Parenting Confessional.

How the Internet has changed parenting - and parents (which is an interview with the author)
Those early years of parenting can be a lonely experience, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent at home all day with preverbal children. But it can also feel as if you are never alone and have lost all rights to privacy. The Internet is one of the biggest changes in parenting from the last generation to the current. Parents can feel less alone by logging on to one of many parenting sites, mostly dominated by mothers, but I’ve seen a few dads there. They can use the Internet to feel less alone, to commiserate, and to remind themselves that they are not the only parent who feels frustrated and isolated sometimes...

The fact that most of the online communities are anonymous is both a pro and a con. The positive side is that most parents wouldn’t be able to speak honestly with the anonymity, and this works so well for the Parenting Confessional. But on the Confessional, there are no comments so no one is writing negative reactions to parents’ heartfelt confessions. On the parenting forums and message boards, the tone can be quite cruel. This was a major theme for me as wrote Cutting Teeth—women judging and criticizing other women. There are mothers waging anonymous battles against each other every day online. But like I said above, with online anonymity comes the freedom to be honest about your emotions, so perhaps the negativity that comes with the anonymity is worth the haven it provides parents.
This is in many ways close to my experience - relieving the isolation online, at the least - and I am quite interested in the author incorporating message boards and so on into her book. It really is a big difference, so fast, in how we parent - and it's not reflected very much in our media yet. It has pros and cons for sure. I think "online confessionals" show us a lot - some of the confessions so mild that you feel sad to see a mother feels she can't express this natural, small thing to anyone IRL; some of the confessions not at all mild, and you worry how the fear of judgment is preventing people from getting necessary help & support.
posted by flex at 9:19 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Yeah, wow, some of these are like, "Ha ha! Who HASN'T fed their kid a collection of 'whatever is left in the house that I don't have to cook'?" and others are like, "Wow, I hope a social worker is aware of this situation."

(The homeschooling parent and the flossing? WOW.)

Also I never feel like THAT bad a mom because the woman across the hall from me when I delivered left the hospital AMA, without her baby, two hours after delivery, because they wouldn't let her smoke. And didn't come back. There was a lot of noisy arguing in the hallway and various family members either apologizing profusely for her behavior or defensively insisting she couldn't be expected to NOT SMOKE for two hours at a time and the nurses were ridiculous and obviously no normal person would stay in the hospital if the couldn't smoke. (I felt bad for her, this was obviously a woman with some problems bigger than she was, but WOW was she making some bad choices too.)

Sometimes when I am yelling at my kids to put their underpants on NOW or else there will be consequences (what consequences? Two layers of underpants? what am I even threatening?) I think, "Wow, this is not my finest moment," and I remember that lady and I'm like, "Well, at least I managed to take mine home from the hospital, I have avoided rock bottom."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:20 AM on July 30 [61 favorites]


PlusDistance: Shut your mouth.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:20 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


It seems like when parents talk about how hard it is to deal with kids, it's because they have to do it ALL BY THEMSELVES ALL THE TIME, which just doesn't seem like the way people were designed to do it, you know?

I think you would be fine. Parenting is a complex task with massive risks associated with the endeavor, but, then again, so is driving a car.

I'm not really of the opinion that we should be complaining or confessing about something that most of us chose to do voluntarily.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:26 AM on July 30


But s/he's talkin' 'bout Shaft!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:26 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I'm a bad mother because I want to punch Ms. "shame on me, we didn't leave cookies out for Santa one year" in the mouth.
posted by drlith at 9:35 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


I think you would be fine. Parenting is a complex task with massive risks associated with the endeavor, but, then again, so is driving a car.

Yeah, but you leave a car in the garage for a month without society frowning at you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:35 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Some of these break my heart, but...

My boys absolutely LOVE broccoli. I got them to eat it by telling them it will make them fart!

Perfection.
posted by sallybrown at 9:35 AM on July 30 [39 favorites]


In 20 years, the kids will be telling their friends, "one time my mom let us have Oreos for dinner. IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER."
posted by rhizome at 9:35 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Facebook has taught me that what most of the people I'm obligated to be 'friends' with need is a big bunch of empathy. Confessions wouldn't be nearly as scary if people around you were just more likely to forgive and understand
posted by DigDoug at 9:35 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Shaft conversation aside (and I am always happy to engage in Shaft-related call and response), I think this is an interesting project because of course not all mothers (or fathers, or teachers, or whatever) can be perfect all the time. It's just not possible! My mother had a friend who swore she wasn't going to let her kids watch television or eat any junk food until one day she heard herself saying "If I let you have some candy will you please just go watch TV?".

Parenting, or really any form of being an adult who is responsible for children, is hard and exhausting, but I think the utility of this site is that women often aren't allowed to or supposed to say so. "You made your choice, live with it!" "This is why I didn't have kids!" "Aren't they just precious little bundles of joy?" "Aren't children a blessing from God?" Whatever! Women are supposed to subsume themselves into the role of mother and stop being people and get judged pretty harshly for stuff like JUST NOT BEING ABLE TO DO IT FOR AN HOUR OR SO AT A TIME. You had kidney stones and couldn't make a healthy and nutritious lunch for your children? When my husband had kidney stones, he was throwing up from the pain so yeah, it's hard for me to blame you for feeding your kids Oreos for lunch one time, but this woman, who made a choice that seems not so very terrible, feels like she can only share this anonymously on the internet because it is SO HORRIBLE. SHE HAD KIDNEY STONES! SHE WAS IN SERIOUS PAIN! She didn't hit her children or neglect them or refuse to feed them, she gave them one un-nutritious meal and feels really badly about it.

Many of the things on here are, yeah, actually really bad, but there are also a lot of good women and good mothers out there who are doing their best, and not everyone can be 100% perfect 100% of the time. It's really, really sad and upsetting that women feel this pressure and feel like they aren't really allowed to be their own people or take care of their own needs, even for a little while, and if they slip up once they're filled with shame.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:36 AM on July 30 [34 favorites]


I'm not really of the opinion that we should be complaining or confessing about something that most of us chose to do voluntarily.

There is a lot of things packed into this statement that bother me. Maybe the whole "If you choose to have children you will never deserve sympathy for how hard it is because, duh, you chose, you idiot." Since a. somebody has to have kids and b. we don't do this with any other voluntary human activities. I mean, nobody forces anyone to climb mountains but we don't mock people who get hurt in an avalanche, generally speaking. Even though there is much less benefit to society in that activity than in raising a child well.
posted by emjaybee at 9:38 AM on July 30 [31 favorites]


I'm not really of the opinion that we should be complaining or confessing about something that most of us chose to do voluntarily.

This is just silly. To use the driving analogy, this is like saying we should never gripe about traffic or getting a flat tire. You can complain about something while still finding it rewarding and valuable.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:44 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


I'm not really of the opinion that we should be complaining or confessing about something that most of us chose to do voluntarily.

What? WHAT? I complain about stuff I chose to do all the time. I chose to work my job, but man it can be shitty sometimes. I chose my friends, but sometimes they drive me up to the wall. Parenting can be an order of magnitude shittier than my job or my friends, but for some reason that's the thing where people feel bad or wrong for complaining about it. Maybe you can keep to the impossibly high standard of never complaining about things you chose to do (I sincerely doubt it), but maybe let the rest of the world be normal humans without your judgment?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:45 AM on July 30 [26 favorites]


Have you ever had kidney stones? My (hypothetical) children would be lucky to get Oreos. No judgment from this quarter.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:46 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Alone, suffering from kidney stones, with a 3-year old and a 1-year old. Ouch. I'm with you, escape from the potato planet; I think Oreos sounds like a decent lunch under the circumstances.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:49 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Yeah, to paraphrase my earlier comment in light of "I'm not really of the opinion that we should be complaining or confessing about something that most of us chose to do voluntarily.", this is why women have to post anonymously on the internet about being "bad mothers" because they feel guilty and have no other way of support.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:49 AM on July 30 [28 favorites]


If anyone had come near me when I had kidney stones they mostly would have gotten vomited on.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:49 AM on July 30


I am of the opinion that sometimes it is helpful to you and to others to occasionally complain about difficult tasks, even/especially when you have taken on the task voluntarily and without experiential knowledge of the task in advance!

I am referring to tasks like parenting, grad school, and/or knitting a large sweater.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:52 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


The opposite of lol; this one made me cry:

"My mother never showed me physical affection. As I grew up every time someone touched me I flinched because I was so unaccustomed to it. When I was older I was in a near fatal car wreck. When my mom arrived on the scene she ran over to me and I hugged her. She pushed me away. It's taken me years to learn that I am a good person and I deserve to be loved and hugged.

Anonymous -- 1/2/2009"

posted by Lynsey at 9:54 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I'm a bad mother because I want to punch Ms. "shame on me, we didn't leave cookies out for Santa one year" in the mouth.
posted by drlith at 12:35 PM on July 30


Exactly. In my family, the kids were taught to leave Santa Claus a couple of beers and a couple of ham-and-cheese sandwiches. This tradition apparently started when my mom's dad taught it to his children.

After Mothers Against Drunk Driving became a thing ("But Daddy! Santa's driving a team of eight flying reindeer! He could get into the worst drunk driving accident ever!" *sobs*), the beer was switched out for iced tea or hot coffee.

I for one am glad that web sites like this one exist. Parenting is tough, and parents need a judgement-free zone to blow off their steam.

But I don't understand why there's so much judgmental-ism out there! Everyone who's ever been a parent knows how hard it is. Why isn't there more sympathy, more support, whenever someone wants to vent? Is it because parents are afraid that if they support the venting parent, they'll be judged as poor parents themselves? Is it because they're afraid it will get back to their kids, and the kids will think their parents don't love them? Is it because if some of the hard truths about parenting come out, they're afraid they'll make potential parents decide not to have children?

It's like there's the big taboo against talking about the downside of parenting. Why? I don't get it.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:56 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Parenting, or really any form of being an adult who is responsible for children, is hard and exhausting, but I think the utility of this site is that women often aren't allowed to or supposed to say so.

I dunno - maybe this is cultural or something ? I can recall my mom and other mothers sitting around the kitchen table in the trailer smoking and drinking coffee and telling just these sorts of stories. But I was a military brat and... that was a brazilian years ago. So, I dunno.

But it informed my own parenting, and I think being able to accept that I wasn't always going to live up to my standards in parenting made me a better more approachable parent. At least that's what my son says.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:02 AM on July 30


I would fail at the parenting so bad, websites like these are reminders that we made the right choice to not spawn.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:07 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Pushing back against oppressive and stifling social mores is a significant part of my identity. I'm open about my limited academic success, I flaunt my postpartum body, I publically date outside of my marriage. And yet! The fact that I'm not a fantastic parent around the clock is so shameful to me. And I really do think I'm a pretty fantastic parent! But realistically, I'm not fantastic all the time, and this is intellectually obvious, but kind of emotionally devastating.

I can admit that once, when my newborn was (finally) asleep, draped face-down across my lap, I ate a Big Mac off his back.
posted by pajamazon at 10:11 AM on July 30 [47 favorites]


So relatedly, there is a group on Facebook called "Sanctimommy Said What?" (SSW)

It is brutal.

More or less it is a vicious mocking assault on the people that judge the actions of others -- the Sanctimommies. This is an interesting premise to me and apparently produces high hilarity.

I am a dad, so I think that society accepts a more lackadaisical parenting style from me. Regardless, I support the SSW efforts wholeheartedly, because, really, moms I know beat themselves up quite enough without some other judgmental **insert your favorite insult here** coming along and compounding those feelings.

Also, they use a lot of profanity.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:12 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


I can admit that once, when my newborn was (finally) asleep, draped face-down across my lap, I ate a Big Mac off his back.

This is a near-daily occurrence in our household since baby muffins was born 9.5 weeks ago. No judgement from this quarter for sure.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:18 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


It's like there's the big taboo against talking about the downside of parenting. Why? I don't get it.

Because we have it in our heads that parenting is something that can be succeeded at, I think. That it's a skill, that it can be learned, and so there's a failure condition that must be feared and avoided.

The problem is, it's not like parenting is a single thing. It's everything in the world you do with your kid, and it feels really like every choice you make is being scrutinized by someone, even before the moment of birth. And any failure is a MASSIVE failure! Because it's your kids! And even the ridiculous stuff you get told stays with you and involves a little guilt--I still remember a natural childbirth class where we were lectured on how we needed to give up vegetarianism because 100 grams a day of meat protein were required to keep Little Fetal Mittens developing properly.

Meanwhile there's a positivity filter, because if enough people aren't talking about parenting realistically, all you get is the picture that your friends with kids must just be massive successes and perfect and wonderful, because their kid is earning medals and gets his picture in the paper, and you're wondering if maybe your kid would get a medal if she hadn't rolled off the couch that one time when she was a baby and you were in a rush to fold laundry. If too many people use that filter, and tell only about the good stuff, then the whole conversation about child-rearing gets really psychotically removed from reality.

I think that's why there is such a rush of relief when parents get together and share horror stories, or see them on the internet. Because all the failures seem so dramatic and awful, if you're not allowed to put any context around them. Most of us are doing a pretty good job, and need a reminder of that once in a while.
posted by mittens at 10:20 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Why isn't there more sympathy, more support, whenever someone wants to vent?

I really think it depends on the circle one is surrounded by. My circle of friends is so totally non judgmental when it comes to parental venting. We even *gasp* talk about things on Facebook. There are some family members I would never, ever vent to, but my friends are nothing but supportive to me, and I to them.
posted by cooker girl at 10:21 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


The no-flossing home-schooling-by-television would-rather-pay-for-dental-work one was where I stopped. Eek.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:30 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


When I was growing up and my dad was out of town on a business trip, my mom would occasionally eschew cooking dinner altogether and instead take my siblings and I out for hot fudge sundaes. This...did not lower my opinion of her parenting skills.
posted by The Gooch at 10:48 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


My grandma used to get a couple of highballs in her and then tell us we were going to play a game called "52 Pickup." She would then launch an entire deck of cards into the air and sip her cocktail while we gathered them back up. I'm thinking grandmothers could use a page like this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:54 AM on July 30 [32 favorites]


More or less it is a vicious mocking assault on the people that judge the actions of others -- the Sanctimommies. This is an interesting premise to me and apparently produces high hilarity.

The SSW group does not hesitate to swing the pendulum all the way to the other side, though. When I was reading it, it was not uncommon to see posts from members laughing about some neglectful thing they did with their own children:

"So I got some scowls today for doing 90 on the freeway on the Harley with my boy in a back pack. I don't see the big deal. He loves the wind and at eight months, he's old enough to hold up his own head. F'n sanctimommies am i rite?"

"i no rite. They need to spend more time tending their organic kale gardens!"
posted by Tanizaki at 10:56 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Reading these make me feel worse, actually. They bring to mind some of my own failures as a father.

When my son was just starting potty training (and doing a good job) I put him in his room for time out. He yelled for a bit that he wanted to come out and I ignored him. When the time was up I went back to get him and he'd taken a dump on the floor by the door, and tried to push it out under the door with a book. He'd been yelling that he needed to go to the bathroom.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:56 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


100 grams a day of meat protein were required to keep Little Fetal Mittens developing properly

I'm currently getting this lecture from my OB. I'm normally a meat-lover, but the last month or two I can barely stomach the stuff. So I tell her I've been eating a lot of beans instead, and she says, "Oh, but those have a lot of calories."
posted by Night_owl at 11:02 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite things about the Internet back in the early 90's, with our dial-up modem, was parenting forums. Getting to discuss issues small and big with people in the same boat always feels good. It's kind of like bitching about your job with your co-workers. Except being a dad or a mom has more rewards than most jobs, so jabbering online was often a lot of fun. And you learned stuff. (As you can compute, my kid is grown up, and officially not receiving an allowance as of this summer. It was a wonderful ride…and of course, it's never really over, Insh'allah.)

By the way, what do you think teachers bitch about? 2% about other teachers, 3% about particular students, 5% about particular parents, 10% about the trials and tribulations of the job in general (usually the hours and lack of respect - seldom the money). The rest of the bitching? It's about the bureaucracy under whose heavy hand we labor. (And we older teachers also talk about the good old days when you could teach how you wanted to teach, before the days of people from Downtown coming by at random times with clipboards, furiously ticking boxes and looking for defects in your classroom decor…)
posted by kozad at 11:11 AM on July 30


100 grams a day of meat protein

This is crazy!

Is this the new guideline? That's three and a half 4 oz servings of chicken breast a day. What are you realistically supposed to do, mainline protein shakes like a weightlifter? The normal average protein intake for an adult woman is about 60 grams of protein a day.
posted by winna at 11:11 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


The no-flossing home-schooling-by-television would-rather-pay-for-dental-work one was where I stopped. Eek.

Ha, you and Eyebrows McGee. Whereas I, a homeschooling mom, nodded with recognition. Note that she didn't say, "all we do for homeschooling is TV." She said she felt guilty about letting them watch TV that day even though they always finish their curriculum eventually.

I never made a big deal of my kids brushing their teeth when they were smaller. That time of the evening is when I'm the most tired in general, so we focused on connection-related things like reading, rather than using my limited energy on grooming. They've all become habitual tooth-brushers as they've gotten older, and with one exception—the kid whose bottom front teeth are crowded and overlap a little, who was told to work on flossing more at his last checkup—they have always been commended for their dental hygiene. In fact, I used to feel guilty when the dentist told the kids what a great job they were doing keeping their teeth clean when I knew they were brushing maybe twice a week at best. I'd think, "Now I'll never get them into the habit of brushing! What can I possibly use as leverage?"

I a really great mom, by the way. One of the best you've ever met. Young adult friends of mine often say, "I wish you'd been my mom," because I support my kids, and treat them respectfully, and take good care of them, and help them explore their interests, and am good at helping them problem-solve, and am generally patient. One friend in her 20s told me, "I have a really wonderful mom, but you'd be my second choice."

The TV thing and the flossing thing are just details that mean little or nothing.

That website was a hard thing to read, though. A mix of the trivial and the tragic, and never knowing what the next entry was going to be. It was too much for me, and I didn't get very far into it.
posted by not that girl at 11:12 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


This is why I always make a point of telling parents of young kids (ha, parents, I mean moms) all the terrible, sloppy things I did raising mine.

My kid was easy. He was smart and considerate and pretty well behaved, and I was young enough when I had him that I had lots of energy, but it wore me down sometimes, too, and I'd do things I hadn't wanted to do. I'd yell at him out of frustration, or say something thoughtless because I hadn't thought through the implications. I once left him at day care an hour past closing. There were compelling reasons, and I didn't do it on purpose, but for all practical purposes, I may as well have just forgotten he existed for an afternoon.

One day, when he was at question asking age, we were headed into a grocery store, he asked me what something was, and I said, "A thing," and a lady passing by laughed sympathetically and said, "Oh, I remember that age! Good answer!"

And that stood out because it I'd just gotten so used to being judged constantly by strangers based on some absurdly tiny little snapshot of our lives. Hostile assumptions are almost the default.

One of the major lessons you learn in childhood is that your parents are humans, just like you. They make mistakes, they say things they don't mean, and they get hungry and tired and overwhelmed and cranky, just like you. So when you lose patience or screw something up, you can show them how grownups own up to their mistakes and apologize and make amends.

Parenting is a lot of hard work, and part of growing up is understanding how much work your parents have put into raising you, and gaining some understanding and empathy, including understanding that mistakes are normal things that everyone, even grownups and even your parents, makes.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:14 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


By the way, what do you think teachers bitch about? 2% about other teachers, 3% about particular students, 5% about particular parents, 10% about the trials and tribulations of the job in general (usually the hours and lack of respect - seldom the money). The rest of the bitching? It's about the bureaucracy under whose heavy hand we labor. (And we older teachers also talk about the good old days when you could teach how you wanted to teach, before the days of people from Downtown coming by at random times with clipboards, furiously ticking boxes and looking for defects in your classroom decor…)

OH GOD YES. The fact that the woman next door to me got her parents to drop a few grand at Lakeshore Learning does NOT mean she's a better teacher than I am, even though my room's never going to look like that no matter how long I spend making my own posters.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:22 AM on July 30


In my family, the kids were taught to leave Santa Claus a couple of beers and a couple of ham-and-cheese sandwiches.

One of my favorite pieces of family lore from my mom's side of the family is the story of my uncle, who would have been about 17 at the time, being a smartass and leaving a joint for Santa.

"Santa," if I recall correctly, took the joint away and left a note saying something to the effect of "I don't think I can safely drive the sleigh after I smoke this, but thank you and I'll save it for later."

Maybe this is bad parenting by somebody's standards, but I think my grandparents not flipping the fuck out over this is a testament to their character.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:23 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Parenting, or really any form of being an adult who is responsible for children, is hard and exhausting, but I think the utility of this site is that women often aren't allowed to or supposed to say so.

In seriousness, I think it is important that parents have a safe place to vent, but it doesn't sit right with me when choices that are not just relatively innocuous, but completely innocuous, get framed as the sins of a "bad mom" that must be anonymously confessed, and then get sort of smoothed over with a little "heehee". Which came out kind of ironically judgey when I framed it as wanting to punch Ms. no-cookies-for-Santa Mom for feeling guilty about that. But still, I think the ideal thing would be for women to stop apologizing for "sins" that aren't even sins, like giving your kids oreos for dinner when you're incapacitatingly ill, or eating "bad" food, or not shaving your legs in the winter, or whatever.
posted by drlith at 11:24 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Oh, and let me just say that I had no idea that parents did such intensive grooming for their children until mine was grown and I saw those toilet paper commercials with the bears, and the mom is all doing butt inspections on what seems to be a pretty old child bear.

Once he was out of diapers, my son wiped his own butt, brush and flossed his own teeth, and whatever all else. I don't know because I wasn't paying attention. I helped him with baths until he was old enough not to drown, but that's about it.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:24 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


OK, there are a few truly bad entries, but 99% of them? Anyone who DIDN'T have parents who routinely did those things must have had a childhood so idyllic it made The Andy Griffith Show look like Mommie Dearest by comparison.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:32 AM on July 30


(The homeschooling parent and the flossing? WOW.)

Given the homeschooling thing, I'd say there's a better-than-average chance that the individual who posted that is a member of a conservative religious community, and forget the internet judgment of people who think that your kids don't eat enough kale, the amount of pressure involved in parenting in those sorts of groups is enough to make anybody crack. The secular world might have weird expectations about diet and appropriate amounts of television, but it doesn't expect that you're somehow going to be able to wrangle a larger-than-average quantity of children in such a way as to prevent them from ever doing anything that could qualify as "rebellion" or "defiance". I've heard of people neglecting far worse to try and keep sanity under the circumstances.
posted by Sequence at 11:32 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


John Shaft wouldn't find this site very helpful. He's a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:43 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Nowhere. You stuff it down deep in your soul and concentrate on having the best looking lawn on your block.

Fuck that. I have the worst looking lawn on the block, and so I have no reason to fear my toddler romping on it.

Bad dad? Bad neighbor? Whatever.
posted by ocschwar at 11:46 AM on July 30


I joined a confessional style parent group once and it scared the crap out of me the things parents would describe, weird things like requiring the kid to scream at the wall? Or telling a kid that if another kid hits them they did something to deserve it? For child welfare reasons, I think we really need to make parent education and child development a normal part of both highschool and basic college coursework so that everyone is educated about the basics of non- abusive discipline and parenting techniques, the ability for the PARENT to identify signs of emotional distress or lack of health in themselves and knowledge of how to repair that, get help with it and build their own health to then share that foundation with their kids.

But like most things, punitive shame based campaigns to FIGHT BAD PARENTING mostly just shame parents and make them feel alone with their struggles- we don't teach adults that their emotional and psychological needs are worth being prioritized and understood, in our safety nets, health systems, and social beliefs about times of rest and social support- how would they know their children need and deserve that or what it even looks like? What's more we need to be realistic that parents have flaws and berating them for it or even coaching them with it will not turn every parent perfect even for a modified version of perfect. Parents are going to have mental illness, addictions, behavior problems and a range of flaws or individual errors that they just can't fix at any given time or moment-- and creating an environment where we support parents with these issues and provide support services that accept parents where they are will teach children that as THEY become adults they can learn how to master their strengths while accepting their faults where they are and working on them from there regardless of how much or whether they progress.

Obviously child endangerment and violence, in my opinion, require intervention and in cases of abuse require removal, but for parents who ARE going to be keeping kids with them, bombarding them with shame over their areas of difficulty is not something well educated therapists tend to recommend to help people develop new behaviors. I know I say harm reduction for everything, but really starting with compassion for where people are while recommending more support and asking people to take steps in the right direction when able usually works a lot better.

I think our culture is way too shame and blame oriented for all things including parenting and it creates this dynamic of hypervigilence VS throwing your hands up-- and somewhere in between is a bit healthier. So yeah I agree that this creates a weird dynamic where parents are asked to call themselves a "bad mom" for totally human, normal errors, and for the flaws that are truly child endangerment, I wish is was more safe for parents to make these confessionals with therapists who would function as a go between before child protection is involved- we have something like that in my city that provides occupational therapy and parent mentoring and healing services for mothers in crisis who feel at risk of abusing their children or are having a hard time providing the basics of safe care. It's NOT a resource for parents actively physically or sexually abusing their kids-- but it's there to prevent families reaching that point and a safe place for parents to say "I need some intervention".

As it is we make it so shameful for parents to even admit they are at that point it's hard to get people to use the resources even when they can afford them or they are made accessible free.
posted by xarnop at 11:49 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Fuck that. I have the worst looking lawn on the block, and so I have no reason to fear my toddler romping on it.

Yes, we were having cocktails with the Anderson's on Saturday night and judging you intensely.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


1) There's a fine line between confessions and "confessions." The ill-disguised humblebrag about WHAT A NON-NEUROTIC PARENT I AM is perhaps my least favorite recurring meme in online parenting discussions.

2) Re advanced-age butt-wiping:

As the mom of a kid with some challenges who continues to need this well past the age I had hoped for (if it ever occurred to me to hope for such things) I very much suspect that if you had needed to do this, you would have. Like, as in, it would be an impossible-to-miss need. If the alternative was a grade-school kid who walked around with a shitty butt while doing otherwise age-appropriate activities, sufficient that you yourself could smell it when he wanted to give you endearing cuddles, let me assure you that butt checks would be de rigueur. Please allow me to live vicarously through you.

Hopefully the above doesn't read like I'm being snide. Sometimes parents hover for reasons that aren't immediately obvious. Can't speak for the commercial bear mama, though, she might be a neurotic helicopter mama bear.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:14 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


I Like Beer and Babies has a a confessional too.
posted by Ostara at 12:21 PM on July 30


Confession: I let my kid play in his playpen with Batgirl and Sunflower-from-PvZ toys while I read this article.

Quite seriously, the website itself give me the heebie jeebies, between the people who feel like they have to confess feeling frustrated, lonely or bored as though it were some sin against parenthood and then the people who are confessing things that scream "I hate my life and myself and my kids"

But the discussion here weirdly gave me a lot of relief regarding my own frustration and loneliness and boredom as a stay-at-home-parent.
posted by FritoKAL at 12:26 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Have I said I've never been happier I never had kids lately?
posted by ob1quixote at 12:30 PM on July 30


You know, I was really excited to see some initiatives in my community to promote co-operative housing and business endeavors in this city. Currently there are no parent based co-operative housing communities (or simply planned family themed living communities) and I think one thing co-ops or co-op themed communities offer is a system of co-operative values ,often with a theme for each co-op that attracts those who want to share the values designed by the community, where pro-social behaviors and values can be shared. I think it's hard to interact with other parents when there are not established pro-social values and you don't know how aggressive, bigoted, judgmental, or even violent/abusive any given family is going to be exposing you and your kids too or how intensively they are going to shame and condemn you for your flaws rather than coming at differences and needs, or areas of concern with attempts at compromise and support.

The thing a co-op or parent themed community could offer is onsite day care, recreation and exercise center, activities and groups that facilitate emotional develop and mutual support as well as casual interaction and friend building in communities where people can spend time together.

Spending all day alone with kids strikes me as a recent and very psychologically difficult development, but I think it's also coincided with the ability to prevent and escape abuse from difficult family members or addicts that previously had a lot more power to force their presence on everyone. (Of course this coincides with many people wanting to be alone so they continue such behaviors rather than avoid them). So escaping people's harmful behaviors is good, and having more space and down time away from people in general, but finding ways to still promote healthy interaction between people would probably be really awesome and health promoting. If different neighborhoods or apartment communities for parents were built with themes like crunchy parents or geek themed parents or attachment parenting (or combos of various traits or balanced parenting etc) it might help people feel like they could find others they could relate too, while encouraging flexibility, understanding of differences, and refraining from intolerant extremism in parenting styles in general. I feel like the harm reduction model for parenting allows people to see certain types of parenting behaviors or ways of living as more healthy while understanding that individuals will have various flaws, coping techniques, or reasons they need to do things differently than the ideal (and that various communities will see the concept of the ideal itself differently for reasons that are often understandable).
posted by xarnop at 12:46 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


It seems sometimes that messages about bad parenting hit good parents the hardest. They're the ones who stay up nights worried that they've done something to traumatize their child. They're the ones who live in fear of being judged by strangers. The actual neglectful and abusive parents seem more impervious to the messages.

And in many cases, there really aren't safety nets available at all. I know two moms of kids with developmental/behavioral issues, and they've both been almost entirely subsumed by their childrens' needs. They spend every bit of energy they have on basics, and everything else is on hold. Both are married to their kids' dads, and both dads are more involved than average. But both of those dads have their own hobbies, and the schools don't call the dads when their kids need to get picked up from school in the middle of the day. Which happens all the time. Neither of these women has anything approaching a personal interest or hobby they pursue anymore. They used to, but all their recreational activities are kid stuff now. When they get a break from work and full-on caregiving activities, they watch cartoons and children's movies and play children's games.

And there's no one good solution, especially in the context of the societies they live in. Social services just plain aren't available where they live in anything but the most drastic circumstances. And with those kids' behavioral issues, it's hard to find a friend or family member who'd even be capable of looking after the kids for a while, even assuming they could find someone willing.

And how do you even address a problem like that? If they talk about how hard it is to raise a special needs kid, it sounds like they're blaming the child. Which some people do, which only makes it harder to ask for help, because they don't want to sound like one of those people.

At what point do you, though? Do you tell the eleven year old that his school called social services because he won't take a bath? That his mother is completely at the end of her rope because she spends every night trying everything short of physical force to get him to clean himself while he screams and cries and flails around?

These women love their kids more than life itself, and they prove it every single day. And they don't even have the option of talking about how difficult it can be without someone judging or berating them. They need help and support.

As the mom of a kid with some challenges who continues to need this well past the age I had hoped for (if it ever occurred to me to hope for such things) I very much suspect that if you had needed to do this, you would have. Like, as in, it would be an impossible-to-miss need. If the alternative was a grade-school kid who walked around with a shitty butt while doing otherwise age-appropriate activities, sufficient that you yourself could smell it when he wanted to give you endearing cuddles, let me assure you that butt checks would be de rigueur. Please allow me to live vicarously through you.

Oh, god, yes. This is exactly what I'm saying. I wish you could live vicariously through my experience, and I wish there were some way we all as a society could take on some of the extra work that special needs kids often require. I know I had a really easy kid. He was fastidious and considerate and articulate and strangely pragmatic, but even my Little Lord Fauntleroy wore me out all the time. And I'm not going to kid myself that it was my amazing parenting that made him like that. Mostly, I just got really really lucky.

I am not a better parent than anyone else because I had an easier kid. I am just a luckier one.

I'm sure I would have done more if he'd needed me to, but I'm also pretty sure that I would have accidentally left him at daycare more often, too, because physical and mental energy doesn't come from nowhere.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:02 PM on July 30 [13 favorites]


I was predisposed to like this. My own FB posts tend to be humorous updates on naughty kids and parents (like how I use time outs to finally eat the chocolate I don't want them to see me eat. Or the way the toddler always announces to me that she hit/kicked/pinched the baby by saying "I don't want to go to my room.")
But I dunno. Some of those are so sad. Like the one who says she keeps yelling at the kids and she wishes she were a better mother but she doesn't know how, and she never had a mother herself. :(

Anyway. My confession: I feel guilty for things I do or don't do practically all the time. I let her do what she wants too much and then grump and yell at her when that means cleaning up a huge mess behind her. I should be stricter. I don't give her enough of my time, what with the baby and such.
My parents AND my husband have told me to stop being the perfect parent. But I feel like I'm doing so much worse than I wanted to do. And my kids will end up spoilt and directionless and with compiicated feelings towards their mother anyway.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:02 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


My grandma used to get a couple of highballs in her and then tell us we were going to play a game called "52 Pickup." She would then launch an entire deck of cards into the air and sip her cocktail while we gathered them back up.

When my brother and I were infants my dad liked to play the duct tape game. You take a strip of duct tape, wad it up sticky side out, put it in the kid's hand, and just sit back and watch.

I learned how to play this game when my brother was a baby. My dad told me it's because babies are really boring before they figure out how to talk and that it's also a fun game to play with cats.

First time I babysat a preverbal baby I tried it. He's right. It's a pretty good game.

My experience playing it with cats has been...less entertaining.
posted by phunniemee at 1:35 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


One of the first things I tell new parents (especially parents who are at home), before advice on dealing with poop, or tantrums or whatever, is 'Find yourself an outlet'.

Find someone you can vent about your children to, someone who will tell you the unkind thoughts they have about their children.

Too many stay at home parents end up isolated in this age of two income households and having someone on the same wavelength does wonders.
posted by madajb at 1:45 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"Parenting, or really any form of being an adult who is responsible for children, is hard and exhausting, but I think the utility of this site is that women often aren't allowed to or supposed to say so."

I agree with the first clause but I don't agree with the second. I suppose it's contingent on where you live and if you have family nearby. All the family conversations were about babies and children from the perspective of women in the five years I was a step-dad in and ran a daycare in Iowa.

That said, being a parent is difficult as compared to any other career because work failures don't have as much of an immediate home impact or feel like a failure. Having failed at work, and most jobs aren't that important, you can get over it. Fucking up with a kid not so much.

Parenthood, thy name is guilt.

Being a parent, at least in my experience, is learning to let 90% of shit slide. Some from the kids but mostly from yourself.
posted by vapidave at 1:46 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I think I've told this story here before, but when my first child was 4 years old and my second child was 4 months old, I came down with really quite serious pneumonia. I was sick enough that when I went to pick up the older child from preschool, in my pajamas and grey with exhaustion, the teachers said "you know what, we'll keep her for another couple hours if you go home and make an appointment with your doctor." They were still trying to find an effective antibiotic when her spring break started. My husband had no sick leave or other paid time off from work, and his office was a 90 minute commute each way, so I was at home, terribly ill, with a 4 year old and an exclusively nursing 4 month old.

I told my daughter on Monday "Here is how this week is going to go. The TV goes on when we wake up. The TV goes off when Daddy gets home. And you can eat anything you want."

She said, "Can I have Nutella in a bowl?"

I said "I will just take the lid off the jar and give you a spoon."

She said "Instead of a spoon, can I eat it with a candy cane?"

I said "Sure thing, kiddo."

she was all ". . . wow."

Of course, because of her weird digestive stuff, all that sugar gave her constipation so bad she was screaming with pain, and she also got a terrible double ear infection and a fever so high she had a little seizure (when she gets badly sugar-shocked she gets ear infections, I have no idea why), but this was before she was diagnosed and I didn't put two and two together. Apart from that little fact, though, I stand by my decision.
posted by KathrynT at 3:31 PM on July 30 [28 favorites]


Why?

It's a really good question. Here's a couple thoughts: we have children when we're older. It is statistically true that as a generation we've moved to older moms, older parents. Older individuals have different critical thinking patterns. Older individuals who have children later often have them later because they have been busy with education and career. Their approach to children is just different. I feel like I have the ability to focus so much more now than I did in my teens and twenties. Some of that focus can get misplaced.

Time. If you are two parents full-time working outside of the home that time with your kids can feel pretty precious. You make choices driven by limited time and limited energy. You feel guilty in that limited time if you don't have fun but also if you don't discipline and guide which can be at odds with "having fun."

Isolation. I know tons of moms. I have a group of moms that I am friends with who all have one child who is my child's age. I met them in a pre-natal group. I live in the city. Everyone is so busy, me included. I don't know, I shouldn't be lonely but I am. I don't have anyone who clamors to hang out with me and my kid or feels an obligation to (family). I have some friends who I love dearly who are scattered across the country but despite my love for them, it seems unlikely that I will see them for years and years. I sometimes wish they were family so there would be a familial obligation to get together, but there isn't. My kid's grandparents live far away. If they lived in town, they could be a help but they don't. A rather large group of my friends had kids here in this city and then their parents uprooted and moved here for them. Neither of our parents has wanted to do that.

I use the internet to stay connected with people in some manner but between working all day, maintaining a household in the evening and trying to be together as a family, it's really hard to physically be with other people in a casual and supportive way. I think as a society we don't have to and so we don't.

I've lately fantasized about moving to a rural area or small town just because there are too many options here. I spent three months with my kid in a small town when she was two and I saw the same people at the same events again and again – why? Because there was nothing else going on. There was one thing happening tonight and everyone was there. I mean, I was so excited to go to the firehouse fundraiser and spaghetti feed...a social event!

Now we have so many options, it takes weeks to set up a "playdate" with friends.
posted by amanda at 3:48 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Boy. I've got tons of things to write and all kinds of opinions, but the one thing that floated to the surface when I read this was a few snippets of a day in late Summer, maybe 1979 or so:

My dad must have been 24 or so and was building our house by himself - he was trying to frame out the 2nd and 3rd floors/roofline when Mom had to go to some event or other. I was about 4 or 5 and my brother was about 2.

He needed to get the framing done and had to watch us, so he fixed it right and proper: He carried both of us into the framing with him and tied us to one of the studs up by the roof in the center of the floor with our legs dangling over each side of the sill just a few feet or yards from where he was working. There were no actual floors in yet, so we could see straight down to the concrete basement floor maybe 25-30 feet down. He spent the afternoon talking to us while he worked and we sat with our backs to each other tied up with heavy rope to a stud.

I remember Mom LOSING HER SHIT when she got home, but wow is that a great memory when it percolates to the top every few years.
posted by Tchad at 5:06 PM on July 30 [24 favorites]


The scariest thing about being a parent is that I see so much of myself in my daughter, and I have a lot of bad kid karma coming my way. But I give her so much free reign to rock on with her bad self, and I sincerely hope she makes much better choices in life than I did.
posted by goo at 6:22 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I really don't get why it is socially acceptable to say "I don't like kids" in a thread about parenting. I mean, it's none of my business what anyone does or how they live their life, but goddammit, my kids have made me the human I am today. I love them dearly and I have a responsibility towards them. Parenting is not easy and there is, as the beancounters say, an "opportunity cost," but so what? That's life. If you don't have kids and you're happy you didn't, that's fine by me, but I will tell you this: you can be a parent if you want to. You may think parenting is hard, and it is, but parenting is also the most natural thing in the world.

I must admit that I don't "get" the purpose of this website, but that's fine, I don't have to read it. I would suggest to the poor slobs who upload their barely articulate "confessions" that they need to simultaneously be kinder to themselves whilst giving themselves a psychic boot up the ass so they are more attentive and present in their kids' lives.

As I am going to do now.

If this is a toxic opinion, so be it, but we all gotta try in this life, dammit.

And I am pretty disappointed that on MetaFilter it's okay to hate kids, and wear it like a badge of honour.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:19 PM on July 30


You don't differentiate among "not wanting to have kids", "not liking kids", and "hating kids"? Interesting.
posted by gingerest at 9:41 PM on July 30 [8 favorites]


yeah, I've never met anyone on metafilter who openly hates children.
posted by KathrynT at 9:51 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


My son lost his third tooth. I was tired. My husband did not double check with me regarding the tooth fairy visit. When my son woke up about 6am in the morning, he came to our room distraught that the tooth fairy hadn't come during the night.
I told him to crawl up in bed with me and snuggle. I waited patiently until he fell asleep, then stealthily moved away from him and out of the bed. I found a tiny sheet of paper and wrote with my left hand (I'm a righty):
Sorry late.
Got wing caught in window frame.
Had to go to doctor.
TF
I added his money and crawled back into bed next to him.
He woke up, checked again and brought the note to me. I read it to him and he nearly cried because he was so worried about whether or not the tooth fairy was alright.

Sherrie in IA


um, ma'am, this website is for BAD mothers, we're going to have to ask you to leave.
posted by kagredon at 10:28 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


I really don't get why it is socially acceptable to say "I don't like kids" in a thread about parenting.

Who said that?
posted by kagredon at 10:52 PM on July 30


The only thing I can think of is that there must have been a deleted comment.
posted by winna at 4:11 AM on July 31


I can admit that once, when my newborn was (finally) asleep, draped face-down across my lap, I ate a Big Mac off his back.
Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, all on a sesame seed bun and a newborn.
posted by blueberry at 6:35 AM on July 31


the poor slobs who upload their barely articulate "confessions"

One thing that us articulate slobs take for granted is how very small your world is when you can't read or write well. Imagine that coupled with an abusive partner, limited funds, generations of dysfunction...I think maybe even the act of writing it down and looking at it in black and white could jar a person into seeking help. That's my hope. I don't have kids of my own, so I bow down to you parents and your experience, I really do.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:24 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


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