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Bad Mother Epiphany

This morning, I sat in my Al Anon group and announced to everyone that I had given up being the perfect mother.

I was ashamed that right now, in this moment of complex teen-hood, I was struggling with the most embarrassingly basic tasks -- eating, taking a bath, brushing their teeth and going to bed. Might I add, all of these were things my children could do when they were 3 years old. But now, poised at the brink of pre-teen-hood, they had fallen away amidst the more important tasks of selfies and self-actualization.

I figured by now we should have graduated to higher order learning ie. screening for which boys in the class are players, how to know if people are lying, what is the existential purpose of makeup, what consists of sex abuse and when to report all of these amidst the essential meta-tasks of how to find your class in school, size up in 5 minutes what a middle school teacher wants, break up a project due in 5 days into bite-size parts; but apparently what they could do beautifully in their toddlerhood, but seemed to have exited the long-term memory space.

Like the student I was growing up, I am horrified and am fixated on remediating it. What does it mean to have a well-adjusted child who cannot remember to brush their teeth or take a bath everyday? I am suddenly ashamed and humiliated for being that mother who did not get this down.

I have visions of my children's future spouses just shaking their heads at what a shitty job I did in the care and feeding department. I know on some subliminal space it is payback time for all the years I had held my mother-in-law in contempt for not instilling the basic disciplines of taking out the trash in her son. I had to do years of remediation on her failure, and my husband still cannot do them. Years later, I am still embarrassed he can't do the most basic manly tasks of taking out the trash or fixing things. That makes two mothers in contempt and shame. I wonder what God is trying to tell me.

But, this morning, after countless mornings of trying to do and redo the morning routine so I don't end up leaving the house fuming after a painstaking meditation routine of tea-sitting-writing practice -- I decided I give up.

If I am going to be a bad mother, I am going to lean into being a bad mother. If I was going to be a bad mother, I was going to be the best bad mother ever, if I was going to be a bad mother I was going to enjoy it!

I then happened upon the most amazing revelation: that we were all going to screw up anyway, that that was a given, and the only thing we get to choose is how and what we wanted our screwed up to be.

That morning, in light of the fact that I had two of the most loving, warm-hearted, generous, compassionate, profound, and deep children I know, I figured I'd err on the side of diet and hygiene.

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