Childrearing

Are These Really Moms’ Darkest Secrets? They Aren’t Even That Bad!

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As editor Shawna Cohen noted yesterday, a new survey of 26,000 mothers was done by TODAY.com and Parenting.com that purports to reveal the darkest secrets of mothers. According to MSNBC, “even in our post-Oprah, confessional culture, there are some things moms just don’t say out loud.” Post-Oprah? Are they kidding? Forget Anno Domini, we’re now living in the year 1 P.O. apparently. Anyway, even as someone who doesn’t take their confessional cues from daytime television, I wasn’t exactly scandalized by the survey’s findings:

Sometimes the secrets are things we do:
  • Nearly one in five moms admits medicating their child to get through a special event like a plane flight; one in 12 does it just to get some peace and quiet on a regular night.
  • Half have knowingly sent a sick kid to daycare or school.
  • 85 percent use their kids to get out of social obligations.
  • Nearly one in three uses work as an excuse to avoid taking care of the kids.
And sometimes the secrets are thoughts we don’t dare tell anyone else:
  • 44 percent of moms would rather be 15 pounds thinner than add 15 points to their child’s IQ.
  • One in four fears their partner is a better parent than they are.
  • One in ten wishes their child was the opposite sex – and of those moms, 60 percent have boys.

Really? I have to say the only one of these I find remotely disturbing and/or surprising are the people who say they’d rather drop 15 pounds than add 15 points to their kids IQ. (Put down the cake and help your kid with the homework already.) But the bottom line here is that parenting is pretty @#$?! hard work. It pushes every mother to her limits and their are times when you’re going to either resort to doing things with your kids that you’re not proud of just to muddle through. And certainly, you’re going to entertain some dark thoughts about your role as a mom from time to time.

That’s not to say you should embrace the suck and give in to every bad habit you have as a parent. Hopefully, we’re all trying to improve as parents all the time. But if you screw up or take refuge in unpleasant desires, it’s best to ask forgiveness and try to do the right thing next time around. It’s understandable if you don’t want to share every bad thing you’ve done as a parent with the world, but we should all be upfront about the fact that the stress of motherhood doesn’t always elevate us to a saintly plain. Admitting to these things doesn’t make you bad mother — it makes you human.

Of course, I’m plotting right now what drugs to give my kids on our flight back home from vacation on Monday ….