Mom Has Left the Building

Within the hour I am leaving home to attend BlogHer in San Diego. I am leaving my family behind with crappy food, bathrooms that didn’t get cleaned, and questionable laundry status.

This makes me feel both guilty and giddy at the same time.

I thought I would run a post from the past to remind myself that they will forgive me.



Whether you are a mom or just have a mom, you know that all mothers have flaws. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t be perfect.

Sure, there’s that one mom from the PTA meetings who seems perfect. But rumor has it that she blew a gasket last week in Target when her toddler decided to remove his diaper and run full-speed past the checkout lines.

On a crowded Saturday.

So while most days begin on a good note, things can take a turn at any moment.

Take a few minutes too long in the bathroom when you have a crawling infant and you may find your potted plant has been un-potted.

On the carpet.

Babies teethe, blow-out diapers, and don’t sleep when you need them to. Toddlers rip pages from favorite books, overturn coffee mugs (wasting precious caffeine), throw epic tantrums, and terrorize pets. Older children bicker with siblings, whine, miss their carpool pick up, whine some more, make extreme messes, flunk tests, leave laundry on the floor, and argue with you about it all.

Most of these things on their own aren’t so major. But combine a few, and even the best of us might blow our tops once in a while. We may yell a little bit, say something we don’t mean, send someone to their room, or simply grunt and clench our fists in frustration.

Then the mommy guilt sets in. Melissa at Confessions of a Dr. Mom wrote a great post about this just last week. We all set such high standards for ourselves that when the inevitable scolding/yelling/sending the kids out of the room/morphing into The Hulk happens we immediately go to that place inside that labels us as a Bad Mom.

These are the episodes of parenting that have led to many a spirited playgroup discussion. We lay our mommy indiscretions at the feet of our friends, looking for redemption and hoping they’ve done the same thing.

But today I am going to let you in on a little secret. A secret that may change the way you look at those little rugrats, those unruly but adorable toddlers, and those sulky teens.

Our biggest cheerleaders may not be our other mommy friends.

They are our own children.

The very children who say we are the meanest mommy ever, who roll their eyes when we ask them to clean their rooms, and who want nothing to do with us when we shop together at the mall. Children who most certainly think they are being reared by none other than Attila the Hun and his wife Bertha the Horrid.

They are the ones who want us to succeed the most.

That’s The Power of a Mom. These little pieces of our heart walking around in dirty socks with messy hair and runny noses really, really love us. And they want us to do a good job.

I work with young children who are at-risk for difficulties with school adjustment. Each year, I have at least a handful of students who have experienced first-hand some of the worst mistakes a mom can make: drug or alcohol abuse, incarceration, neglect, verbal or physical abuse.

And without fail, time and time again, these little children still put their mothers on a pedestal.

Because they want them to succeed at being a mom. Their very being depends on it.

They draw pictures of their beautiful, smart mommies. They create visions of what their life will be like when mommy comes home or brings them back to live with her. They gloss over details they don’t know I am aware of, creating excuses for their moms who have taken a path not consistent with motherhood.

The Power of a Mom.

We are, most of the time, someone our children can count on. Whether it’s a peanut-butter sandwich in a lunchbox, a hug after a fight with a friend, or someone to check your spelling homework: mom is there.

So even when she’s not consistent, not physically or mentally able, or not even particularly interested in being a mom, her children are still her biggest cheerleaders. They want their mommy to succeed.

So the next time you yell at your little one because she spilled milk for the tenth time or send your teenager to his room for being surly and the guilt sets in, remember this.

Without fail, these little ones are your biggest fans.

They expect you to make mistakes, they accept your apologies, and love you in spite of it all.

Even if their facial expressions and eye rolls don’t show it.


  1. This gave me chills and almost tears. It’s so, so true. They look up to us and love us so much. I mean we are their MOMS. Wow.

  2. Sherri, thank you for this. I’ve been feeling the Mom Guilt particularly today when I lost it momentarily with my toddler when he was in a tantrum frenzy. And yet, he still wanted me to make him feel better. He cuddled up to me when he calmed down. He still loves me, was my first thought.

    Thank you for putting it in such beautiful words.

    Have a lovely time at BlogHer!

  3. So heartwarming and encouraging! I have a lot of mom guilt and I do tell stories to other moms or on the blog for validation that I’m not the only one. But I never thought about it this way. Thanks so much. Have fun at BlogHer! Someday I’ll get to go and meet you. πŸ™‚

  4. What a great post! Honestly, I have never once thought about it that way. I admit that I often wonder why my kids still like me after I have totally lost it but love me they do. What a great perspective on it. Thanks.

  5. Loved this post!! They will forgive you!!!

    Can’t wait to see you!!!

  6. Tahoe friend says:

    Beautiful and as usual, made me cry. And, when you think about it, our mommy faults have continually aided the economy by helping to create and sustain the “family counselors” jobs. What would all the counselors do without dysfunctional moms? (:

  7. Beautifully written friend and a much needed reminder! Thank you! I am wishing you the best, best time in SD – have fun and don’t even think about what is left behind!

  8. Brilliant! What a refreshing perspective on motherhood.

    When I feel those icy cold fingers of mommy guilt try to grab hold of me, I will think of this..

  9. Beautiful post! I’m heading to BlogHer ’11 very early tomorrow morning – hope to meet you there!

    Instead of packing, I had to take my little son to the doctor because he said his knee hurt. Nothing I could do about it, so I did all the last-minute shopping with him (his knee is fine πŸ™‚ and we had a lot of fun at the LOFT, Starbucks, and Kohl’s. Spending quality time with L is more important. How long can packing take, right?

    I guess I’ll pack right before the driver picks me up at 4 am LOL

  10. I hope that you have a great time at BlogHer!!

    I get the eye rolls more times than I care to count. I try to ignore it but after a while and especially when paired with attitude I get fed up and have to tell them to knock it off.
    I’ve told them that beatings will continue until moral improves but it doesn’t seem to phase them.

  11. How I loved this!!! It’s so true , that they just want us to be good, better even when they are not. I never knew unconditional love before the boys and it’s freeing, it warms your heart and fills up your soul. What a gorgeous post!!!

    Have lots of fun at BlogHer!!!!!! Xo

  12. Oh yes, how I love this post Sherri. It is so true, our children really are our biggest cheerleaders and oh so forgiving.

    The children you work with? They break my heart. Because every child deserves a mother who will only do their best for them..mistakes and all. This really puts it all in perspective. Don’t you just want to take them home with you?

    On another note…have a FANTASTIC time at BlogHer!!! I cannot tell you how incredibly jealous I am. I was soooo close to going but just could not swing it. Can’t wait to hear about it!!

  13. Beautiful. Thank you, I needed this today.

  14. Thanks for the great post.Have a nice day.Sigrid

  15. Have a great time at BlogHer. Enjoy your time away guilt free. You deserve it. It was such a blast last year. Sadly this year I just couldn’t make it.

  16. Thank you so much for posting this! I needed it today as it feels like I’ve done nothing but repeat myself all day to try and keep my kids in line. UGH!

    Have a great time at BlogHer!

  17. I have to admit I’ve actually thought about those poor abused children who still beg to be with their mothers, who defend their mothers to the end even as their lives are made miserable by them.

    And I’ve let myself feel better about my own parenting in light of this truth.

    Just the fact that we THINK about and WORRY about and then THINK MORE about our mothering has to mean something, right?

    It is sad that any child has to accept less than his/her mother’s BEST efforts. Because even in the face of our best efforts, we make mistakes.

    Still. I will never stop trying to do better, to be better, to be worthy of their support. To be worthy of my cheerleaders.

    I do love them so very much.

    And p.s. I hope you have a wonderful, inspiring, fulfilling weekend at BlogHer. Wish I could meet you. Hopefully someday…

  18. I need to figure out the best time of day to read your thought-provoking, heart-string-pulling posts!

    Damn you and you’re always-rightness!

  19. I am sitting here crying reading this—-since I literally JUST hit publish on a post about being a bad mommy/mom guilt, etc…

    love this, Sherri. you are so, so good!

    have a blast at BlogHer, can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back!

  20. I love this post just as much the second time around! And I’m so envious of you and your BlogHer attendance!

  21. Very thought provoking post. I’m often told : ‘I hate you’ but I know I’m missed when not around. Do they want us to succeed … or to succeed so that we’ll be there for them I wonder?

    I will ponder on this as the teenage years approach! sigh…

    May be I’ll ‘leave the building’ too…just for a wee while!!

    xx Jazzy

  22. You absolutely just made me cry. Our children ARE our biggest cheerleaders. I feel like I let my cheerleaders down too much. Mommy guilt! Mommy guilt! I heart you. So wish I could’ve been at BlogHer to have met you. πŸ™‚

  23. I love this, how did I miss it? It is so true, my kids can forgive my biggest flaws in a matter of seconds. Love the perspective you always bring to my day Sherri.

  24. This post spoke to my heart.

    I also worked under similar circumstances in child welfare. Children who had been taken care of so poorly and let down so hard, by their own mothers, only had one question for me when we talked. When will I go home to my mom?

    I don’t understand how it took reading this to put it together for me. I’m constantly feeling like I can’t get through a day without having at least a moment that I regret as a mother. I worry about how these moments affect my children. I feel worry and guilt all the time.

    But you are right. My daughter draws amazing pictures of me, her eyes light up when I enter the room, I’m the one she wants to tuck her in at night, and I’m the one she wants when she is sick or sad.

    Thank you for the perspective. This is why I love blogging.

  25. So what you’re saying is, I’ll never get used to the mom guilt? Great!

    Somehow I knew that. Sigh.

    Lovely perspective.