You Are A Good Mom cake

Mime Parenting Is A Lost Art Or The How Of Being A Good Parent When You’re Drowning.

Kat left this comment on yesterday’s post:

Yes yes yes to all of it: the good intentions, the second child backslide, the obvious reaction when you model the behavior you don’t want them to repeat. But how do you get back to the good intentions when you barely have time or energy to think? I don’t know where to find the reserves.

And yes yes yes right back. Because although I am reminded WHY I need to keep my parenting ideals, HOW is the FINAL QUESTION ON JEOPARDY!  (Oh wait, it’s the answer. To the question/answer.  The final answer.  So HOW is the answer/question.  And this whole post would be in the tiny screen being read by Alex Trebek.)

So I get it.  YAY!  I remember why I want to be a good mom!  But my children were up three times last night NOT including the two times N was awake before I even went to bed.

So how on no sleep (or stressed or hormonal or sick or whatever) do I keep being this mom I want to be?

Well, crap, I don’t know! But these are ten things that have worked for me or other moms or I just made up:

1. Mime Parenting: Restrain of pen and tongue.  In other words (or NOT WORDS), I keep my mouth shut.  I can’t snap or curse or yell without words. Try. See? IMPOSSIBLE!

2. Welcome to 1992: I turn off my cell phone and sign off of Twitter for hours. I don’t have the mind-control to form hilarious sentences AND get my children a cup of milk. Also, I tend to pick fights, get my feelings hurt, and freak out while tired, parenting and social media-ing. So I peace-out to have children, friends, and a husband when I sign back on. Oh and it’s hard to talk on the phone while miming (see #1 for clarification).

3. Get Kicked Out: I leave the house once a day.  If only for the helpful pressure to be a good mom in front of all those judgmental moms at the playground. And if I know in advance the day is going to suck (I stayed up too late, my husband is working late, we are introducing three old cats to one hyper dog) I’ll even pack our bag the night before. Because there’s nothing like getting out the door with sippy cups, diapers, changes of clothing, wallet, keys, cell phone, and not crying: WHY ARE THE STUPID KEYS IN THE KEY BOWL WHERE THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE?

4. Hallucinate: I picture the cutest or funniest thing my children have done in the last two weeks. Maybe store that in your iPhone. Oh wait, you’ll have to turn it on. Maybe tattoo it on your arm.

E's Zombie Face
E’s zombie face. One of many.
N in her movie star shades
N giving the paparazzi the time of day. Barely.

5. Run For Office : If you have a partner, GET ON THE SAME PAGE. Seriously, Scott and I had a State of Our Marriage on Friday. And that definitely included my recent parenting antics. We each wrote down what was working, what wasn’t working, and what we, as individuals, could be doing better. (That last part is important. I can point a finger at my partner because I’m also acknowledging the FOUR fingers pointing back at me. Okay, the thumb is kinda pointing to my right.  Or now I have six fingers.)

6. They’re Playing Our Song : Music. NPR. ANYTHING to distract my mind from the incessant string of words and needs. And if I’m lucky, the music will distract my littles, too. My kids are HUGE fans of the Music Together series. The songs have stopped my children mid-cry, which elevates them to gods. Or drug dealers.

7. Go Coma: Sit and stare into space. Possibly cry. But try to wait until nap/quiet time because it may freak out the children. Sometimes instead of doing EVERYTHING while the kids are sleeping, I do NOTHING. Because I need rest, too. (If you have non-nap-pers, institute quiet time IMMEDIATELY. Everyone needs a coffee break. Email me: alex{at}lateenough{dot}com if you need details on how we began THE HOUR OF BLESSED QUIET.)

8. Find Your Stuart Smalley: I have positive mantras hidden throughout my life. I can’t tell you how to do it because then you will be able to break into my computer. Okay, I will.  You come up with a sentence like: Late Enough Makes Me Feel Good Enough. And your password for your email is now the first let of each word: LEMMFGE. No hacker can figure it out. AND you tell yourself that sentence EVERYDAY. Or FIFTEEN TIMES A DAY, like me, because I’m constantly turns on and off my computer. You can also leave little notes. Or get cake.

You Are A Good Mom cake
My husband brought this home for me on Thursday night. Yum.

9. Vote Yourself Off The Island: Get at least one imperfect mom friend. I have some awesome IRL mama friends (READ: three) and YOU GUYS! Oh and get some non-mama friends. Who just nod and smile and take like five birth control pills every time you get together for coffee. Because STRAIGHT-UP SYMPATHY people. I need that, too. (If you don’t have mama-friends, email or tweet or Facebook me. Because I had none for my first few years of parenting and the loneliness nearly crushed me.)

10. Find The Light Switch: If you are in that deep, dark morass of depression, anxiety, or anything more serious than hating your children, call your doctor. Or if you are just needing more help than music and zombie pictures. I go once a month and I’m cool.

There rest of the great ideas that I didn’t already pilfer are in the comments from yesterday’s post. Scroll away. And, of course, in the comment’s section below. RIGHT? Even mimes can type. WAIT! Where are you going? DON’T TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER YET. I WAS JUST JOKING ABOUT THAT SUGGESTION. Oh, okay, bye. Have fun not hating your children.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

25 thoughts to “Mime Parenting Is A Lost Art Or The How Of Being A Good Parent When You’re Drowning.”

  1. Mime parenting? I love it! How often could we have salvaged a situation by just not saying anything?

    I think the most important thing on this list is getting spouse/partner on the same page–parenting gets unnecessarily harder when parents are pulling in opposite directions.

  2. Oh dear. A state of our marriage may have to wait since my husband feels so “attacked” and stressed by this move. We could use one but it would not be funny. And my six fingers would all be pointing….at us both.

  3. Oh Alex, you are awesome. So very awesome. Keep following your own advice and stick with it! You are obviously such a great mama. Such a loving, caring, giving mama with a loving and understanding husband. Your kids are so lucky to have you both. I’m sure the feelings doctor will help. And growing up will help. And you will have better nights (and days) soon. You deserve it. Your family deserves it. I really admire you.

  4. I’ve read your struggles over the last few weeks and can remember well those days. Now that my youngest is starting his last year of high school, I can tell you the struggles to be a good mom don’t end. My thought is that letting your children see your struggles, and that you are working thru them or sometimes you can’t and you have to sit down and cry, shows them that life isn’t perfect, you aren’t perfect, some days are harder than others but you have to work hard to have a good life. The worry about being a good mom doesn’t lessen as they get older either. Hang in there.

  5. There is so much about this post that I love.
    Just so much 🙂
    So many honest to goodness saving moments for mamas! I might have needed to read them just now….

  6. Seriously, stop making me cry. I hate PMS. Thanks for being you and letting the world see your struggles. It makes a difference in how I parent when I know that I am NOT so special – everyone has these issues. 🙂 PS – thanks for the virtual hugs, I needed them more than you will ever know.

  7. Thank you so much for this post and making all of us feel normal. I hate people that give “suggestions” sometimes because I feel like they are critiquing my parenting…and no one likes a no it all. So I share a “something that worked for me” with love: When I taught huge 5th graders (like the biggest 11 and 12 year olds you’ve ever seen – and none were 10) in the intercity I caught myself yelling, “I SAID BE QUIET!” and I started laughing. How was that working for me? At that point for the rest of my teaching I started whispering when I wanted to yell. They HAD to be quiet or else they couldn’t hear me – and even though maybe 1/2 of them wanted to punch me in the face they got quiet because they didn’t want to miss out on something. Ok, so yes, I still freaked every now and then – but the whispering really worked.

  8. Turn off the phone? But… but… okay, it’s a good idea. But.. how do I survive without an hour of internet access? Somehow our mothers forged through, I guess I can try. Getting out of the house does help, both for the internet avoidance and the judgement factor in #3.

    I also like the idea of praying, which came up when following a trail of links in yesterday’s entry. I don’t believe in a god, but I found the Buddhist idea of loving-kindness meditation. I can get behind a little positive meditation/prayer/thinking every night to help convince myself that I can get through this. Heck, I can more than get through it. I can rock this motherhood thing if I approach it right.

  9. One thing we did was to take a break sometimes. Use a babysitting co-op or a friend or a grandmother, but build breaks into your schedule.

  10. AMEN!
    Partner on the same page is #1. A lot of people start that AFTER the child comes. No way – because then you can discover you aren’t only not on the same page but not even in the same book. For me – I made it perfectly clear that I would not be the mom that does it all and Daddy never knows how to do anything – luckily he agreed. I wasn’t going to be scared or nervous to leave my children with their own father. Because he is so awesome, I don’t feel guilty or bad or scared to go off on my own. A trip to the store is sometimes all I need to recharge the battery.

  11. Oh, this is good. And funny. And smart. A trifecta to live by.
    I like to schedule a State of Our Union convo a couple of times a year. We like it so much we’ve had to make subcategories, such as the Separation of Work and Home and the Homestead Act (that one’s about our house, and boy have we needed it this year). Mandated quiet? Oh yes. I wish I could do more voting myself off the island, but I think I might be too rural. At this point, even kind-of-perfect mom friends would do.

  12. Great ideas. I love the mime idea, it’s kind of like sitting on your hands…
    This is kind of about the last post too, but i think it helps to remember why we want to parent well isn’t always about the kids or the results that parenting can have. It’s about maintaining our own integrity, it’s about being who we want to be. And when you give up so much to be a mom, its kind of exciting to claim something back for yourself. And it makes it feel less of a denial of the easier (?) route and more of a way to feel like a whole person. Instead of the mom of…

  13. Okay, you get wiser with every post.

    I’m going to try the mime technique asap.

    Going coma is a tactic that I’ve had mastered for a while now. It’s my favorite.

    Leaving the house every day, every day? This would involve remembering to brush my teeth in the morning. Every morning.

    Thanks for the smile this afternoon. You brightened my coma time.

  14. Lovvvvvvve me #9 and 10.

    No more needs to be said, except “the loneliness nearly crushed me.”

    Yes. Why are so many of us lonely when there are so many of us out here???????

    You are all that, and more, you are.

    1. If your husband hasn’t bought you a cake or flowers, how about saying “I SURE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A STORE BOUGHT CAKE TODAY AND I’LL SHARE IT WITH YOU! I’LL EVEN GO GET IT IF YOU’LL PAY FOR IT!” He probably hasn’t thought about it and thinks it’s a great idea and might even DO it himself. It’s worth a try.

      1. I know Scott brings you cakes, honey. I was talking to others. And I am trying to learn to keep my mouth shut instead of smarting off or saying something hateful. I’m only 71 so maybe I will learn.

  15. OK.

    Enough fooling around.

    With this last post here? I am coming here every day.

    I lay awake: anxiety, thinking of all the bullshit that I have do do: the errands, the returned phone calls, the floor washing, the posts, the reading, the returned blog visits, the exercising, the decluttering: the paperwork that needs to be done, the car brakes that need to get checked on, the Dr. appt, the dentist check up, the German dictionary that has to be picked up,

    I lay in bed and just stare blankly in the dark.

    I forget that some blog visits are not visits back: some are food for me.

    Like this one.

    I am never leaving again.

    End of it.

    This post: cannot find the words to thank you for this post. And it’s my fault for not telling you, I’ve been struggling with depression, too, and I haven’t reached out.
    I will be here, from now on, every morning: and thank you, for being here, for me.

    I hang my head in shame that I took this site, and your writing for granted.

    I met you while hopping around 18 mos ago, and never took you as a person into mind, to thank: for being so open honest real kind giving: no ego in mind. JUST YOU.

    I get judged everyday, and I let it swallow me up till I become a tiny little ball of a person, all curled up.

    No more.

    I am here.

    I love you,Alex, and happy soon to be birthday.

    I am so happy you were born, and that you blog.

  16. Gold! I was researching for a talk I’m giving to some Moms of preschoolers on “Mommy Guilt” when I found your post. I’ll be back. But not so often I ignore the kiddos. Promise.

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