A month or two ago, this image floated around the portals of Facebook and Pinterest:
And mom-friend after mom-friend chuckled over her marked-up Bingo squares. A few of us screamed BLACK OUT! because indeed, every square on the Mom Guilt Bingo sheet was X-ed out.
Maybe, hopefully, every single one of us who played the game in our mind then chuckled because we’d done it again: We’d won. We’d played the game right. We’d come out on top.
If you’re anything like me, I laughed and I giggled because sometimes all of the above not only feels but is altogether too true. But then things started to turn ugly: Laughter led to questioning my own parenting, and then I began to actually feel guilty about what I do and don’t do. I began to compare myself with the non-existent but altogether angelic Do Everything and Be Everything mamas who didn’t have to mark a single square on their bingo sheet. And by the end of it, evil “not good enough” voices and internal threats of failure were worming their way into my mind.
Take, for example, the evidence:
1. Try as I might, I still haven’t lost the baby weight. 2. I look forward to the one hour of screen time we allow Cancan every afternoon. 3. I’m no less than eight years behind on scrapbooking, which means that I haven’t even met the HBH (Hot Black Husband) yet, nor have thoughts of Little Caramel and Little Cappuccino entered my mind yet. [And y’all: scrapbooking in general? Two thousand and late.] 4. I yell GENTLE!!! to my children when my voice and my insides and my heart feel far from it. 5. Finally, plain ol’ cheese pizza, straight from freezer to oven, is a regular part of our weekly dinner ritual, as it should be for two little boys who can’t get enough of it.
But evidence of these findings does not make me a bad mother, nor does blacking out your entire board make you a bad mama.
Because friends, we’re human.
I’m human and you’re human and every mama who’s ever played her own game of Mom Guilt Bingo and found herself sometimes feeling like she’s failing is human as well. And the last thing we need as we try our hardest to be the Best Damn Mamas we can be is another dose of guilt-laden You’re Not Good Enough’s down our throats. So, I say we rename the Bingo sheet.
Consider the following options…
*When Was the Last Time You Tried Keeping a One Year Old Human Alive? BINGO
*Survivor: It Ain’t Just a Reality TV Show, Y’all BINGO
*I Watched the Boob Tube Every Day as a Child and Look at Me Now BINGO
But let’s also think about these titles…
*Surviving on Grace & Coffee & Laughter BINGO
*I’m the Perfect Mom to and for My Kids BINGO
*Doing the Best I Can and So Are You BINGO
So, as for me and mine, we’re keeping the bingo sheet, but we’re rewriting the title. And I encourage you to rewrite your title, too. Do what you have to do in order to make this thing called motherhood work for you – plop your child in front of the television for an hour, throw a frozen pizza in the oven, read a book for an extra-long time while you’re sitting on the loo – and be refreshed, just for a moment. And then enter back into the chaos and the fun and the inevitable memory-making, and give yourself a pat on the back, because Woman? You’re incredible.
You are the best and the most beautiful and the most breathtaking mama to have ever walked this earth …at least to your little ones, at least to the minions who are in your care.
Take a breather.
And know that you are right where you’re supposed to be, doing just what you’re supposed to be doing. And you are loved.
So, Mom Guilt Bingo: Am I making too much of it? Perhaps. But what would you rename it? Otherwise, how do you survive motherhood or parenthood in general?