After a couple days knocked off my feet and "recuperating" (HA!) from my c-section I was shuffled off to the breastfeeding clinic located in the maternity ward. Rules were you could not leave the hospital until you've got the "latch on". Well, I was already an emotional wreck. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of "WOW, I just brought another human being into this world and I'm responsible for his survival. Oh crap!"
I was wheeled into the breastfeeding clinic with my first born (shelf head and all for being jammed in my pelvis for months - luckily he rounded out just fine) with probably at least 10 other mammas and their sweet fresh babes. I recall them all being so peaceful. Not a cry from any baby and each mom looking so engaged with their newborn and calmly sitting in circle formation.
So, what did I do? I LOST IT...BIG TIME. Yep. In an instant I
shouted spoke very loudly and said "Am I the only one who isn't getting this? This is so f---ing brutal!" and bursted into tears. Them? They all just looked at me with blank stares! Not. One. Word.
At that moment, I couldn't help but to wonder AM I A BAD MOMMY ALREADY???
Well..there was no turning back and I knew I just had to SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP!
I am currently reading this hilarious, but soooo true book, BAD MOMMY, by Willow Yamauchi. It's her second book based on the true confessions of real life mommies and their experiences. As moms we are constantly judged even before we are pregnant and it just doesn't stop does it? So, why is that?
Here's my interview with Willow for all us Bad Mommies!
Why "BAD MOMMY" and not another term like, "Dazed and Confused"?
Willow: The title "Bad Mommy" came to me one day when I heard a littlle toddler call his mommy that at a restaurant...she was trying to do some benign mommy task like wipe his face and he yelled "bad Mommy" at her and slapped her arm loudly. Everyone looked. She looked mortified and I TOTALLY felt compassion for her...because isn't that the very thing we all fear? That we are a Bad Mommy? Then to be called out on it by your toddler publicly, ouch! The name seemed so obvious to me, this was the conversation that needed to happen; what is a Bad Mommy?
What would you tell a mom-to-be who might be reading your book? (I can see my pregnant friend getting totally freaked out!)
WILLOW: Great question! A friend of mine is trying to get pregnant right now and I have told her NOT to read the book until it's too late and she's missed a period! Then go for it! I don't want to freak her out completely. But I have also given it to my younger female cousins who are childless with the inscription "consider yourself warned," more of a cautionary tale for them. Actually, I think it would have been somewhat comforting for me to have read this while pregnant, because I was already freaking out about all this stuff. To know that I wasn't alone in my anxiety might have been a relief for me. I think it really depends on the sensitivity of the reader. If the mommy (or mommy to be) already sees the pathos in her burgeoning pregnant body, then bring it on! If she's one of these overly sensitive mommies who is still in the denial and "everything is beautiful" stage, she might need a little warning...perhaps we should put a "sensitive parental advisory" sticker on the cover!
Why do we moms judge each other? Is it the media? A female thing?
WILLOW: There is so much "worth" tied up in being a good mommy. Being a Good Mommy is in the fact, the very thing we were designed to be, but what is a good mommy? The internalized anxiety and shame over failing at being "good" (whatever that means) makes us mommies extremely defensive. When we get defensive we project our insecurity on others. We judge others in order to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. This causes others to judge us back and its'a huge cycle of judgement and insecurity - it's actually quite sad. This cycle of judgement and insecurity have been dubbed as the "Mommy Wars." It's not the media's fault, they have to have something to talk about - it's societies fault for setting all of us mommies up to fail.
Do Bad Daddies Exist?
WILLOW: Many people have asked me about "Bad Daddy" and obviously, he exists...in fact "Bad...anything" exists, if you see the word "Bad" as shorthand for "individual who fails at imposslbe tasks whatever that task or role may be." I don't think though, (and I admit I may be wrong) that there's such a set up for Dad's to be perfect. I think they are given a lot more leeway to delegate and to have lives outside of the primary nurturing of their children..and that they can be worhty Dads while doing this. You never see a Dad wracked with guilt about having to travel away from kids, or having to miss a school function, or not having made the right snack for treat day at school. It's just not in their nature...they are fortunate.
What do you really want moms to take away from reading your books?
WILLOW: I wish I had read "Bad Mommy" when my kids were babies, when I was struggling with so much with self doubt and self recrimination. I wish I had know that it wasn't only me, that I wasn't alone. My goodness, this Good Mommy thing is a conspiracy! How I would have liked to have known that truth, it would have saved me so much doubt, tears and confusion. I hope that everyone can take away from this that they are not alone, that it does get better, that it is impossible to be "good", that "good" is actually total crap and doesn't even exist anyway. Then we can move on to actually free ourselves to enjoy our kids and enjoy the parenting experience. The truth is, I am a Bad Mommy. The truth is I am a fantastically fun, crazy, loving and careful mommy who is now free to follow her heart in parenting - to follow her own truth, instead of being tied up in unrealistic and unattainable myths of goodness. Follow your gut, you know yourself and your child best, you will make mistakes, and that's ok, we are all in this together.
Own it. be it. You are a Bad Mommy, and that's ok, so am I.
About Willow Yamauchi
Willow is a Vancouver-based writer and artist. A self-proclaimed BAD MOMMY, Willow believes women need to stop lying to themselves and to others about the mommy experience -only the truth shall set us free. Bad Mommy is her second book (April 2012, trade paperback, Insomniac Press) and is available in bookstores, online and electronic download for ebooks.
High-fives and chest bumps to Willow! ...unless you're lactating of course!
So, what's your Bad Mommy confession?