I’m having a great moment. I feel like a bomb-ass mom – I’ve finished the laundry, done the shopping for the week, packed for my business trip, took my son and the dog out to the park for some fresh air and exercise, and I did my eyeliner perfect today. I’m doing well at work, and my relationship with my husband has never been better. But also…

I’m totally failing at this motherhood thing. I didn’t actually finish folding the laundry, I did absolutely no meal prep with the food that I bought, I’m abandoning my family on a four day business trip, I let a frisky collie knock my son down at the dog park because I was distracted by my own dog humping a rock, and why on earth did I take the time to put on eyeliner today when I could have spent that time researching the best non-toxic, gluten-free, ABP-approved toddler wallets? I’m running behind on my workload (shit, I just remembered that I forgot to call that guy back about that thing with the numbers and the products and the margins), and I really shouldn’t have snapped at my husband when he was dicking around on his phone instead of just generally anticipating my every need. On the other hand…

We did have a romantic night last night. Dropped the baby off with his grandmother and had an adults-only dinner with our extra fancy friends, enjoyed a nightcap at home (nightcap is my favorite euphemism, WINK), then we slept in the next morning and went to the diner for breakfast before reuniting with our son, all of us refreshed and energized. It felt good to be a grownup who does grownup things again, and I love that my child has some bonding time with his grandmother. What a great balance of marriage and parenthood this weekend was. However…

What kind of awful mother enjoys leaving her baby? Poor little pumpkin, he probably felt neglected and abandoned by his parents while they galivanted around town, drinking martinis and eating “angry” shrimp. Oh my god – am I a frivolous alcoholic? Clearly, booze and sexy appetizers are more important to me than actually spending time with my child. And shame on me for treating my mother-in-law like a free daycare! I made the choice to have a child, and here I am tossing her my responsibility and peeling out of the driveway faster than she can say, “Wait, what do you mean he has an ass rash?” Then again…

She does love spending time with him, though. And it’s good that he is socialized outside of our little family unit. Come to think of it, he has tons of friends (and I can only assume, a handful of frenemies), and we and our nanny all make sure he hangs out with his teeny tiny buddies on a regular basis. That must be why he’s generally so well-adjusted and unafraid of new people – good job, us! Plus, I gained several new mommy friends whom I adore as well. You know, it’s pretty awesome that our family is so involved and social. I found and signed him up for both swimming and music classes, which he loves. Certainly, that’s a sign of excellent mothering, yes? But hmmmm…

His nanny took him to music class, actually. She also takes him to every local library for baby story time, she initiates most of the new friendships, and she’s the one who encourages him on a day-to-day basis. If he’s well-adjusted, that’s mostly to her credit. Because I work so much, I only get to see him a few hours each weekday. Oh dear, do you think he loves her more than me? I mean, think about it – he sees her for ten hours a day, five days a week. If I was in his shoes, I’d definitely be closer to her than me. You know, when we picked him up from his grandmother’s, he smiled, but it wasn’t even close to the joy he exhibits when he sees his nanny every Monday morning. But when I think about it…

I’d certainly rather him love his nanny than hate her, right? I mean, it would be worrisome if he cried when he saw her, right? At least I know that he’s being loved and taken care of when I’m sobbing weakly in my cubicle kicking ass at work. Plus, I had dozens upon dozens of nanny interviews and I picked her out of the bunch, so that must mean I’m pretty intuitive. Good for me! I guess I’m back to having a great moment. Good mommy, very good mommy! Yet also… bad mommy, very bad mommy!

I’ve never experienced the kind of emotional duality that motherhood has brought upon me. Even choices that I feel great about initially somehow spiral into self-doubt and shame, followed by desperate justification, followed by defeated guilt, followed by angry defense, and so on and so forth. It’s an almost inescapable part of motherhood, and it makes it tough to ignore judgement, genuine or only perceived. It is responsible for 99% of sanctimommies, who are responsible for 99% of all of our initial self doubt anyway (and at least 76% of my crying in the shower – the rest can attributed to watching surprise military homecoming videos on youtube). It’s unrealistic to think that we can all break this cycle, but what we can do is try to spend more time on the top of the emotional ferris wheel. If you spend more moments feeling like a good mom than you do feeling like a failure, I feel like we can call that a win. Now stop reading stuff on the internet before your child develops a deadly screen addiction. But also, good for you for taking some me time!

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