Until my sweet 12-year-old daughter starting surreptitiously videotaping me with her phone.
She chooses random, boring daily moments when I’m not posing or even paying attention. And then she plays them back to me, her face deadpan, like a lawyer presenting irrefutable evidence to the Supreme Court justices.
Me telling her (for the five hundredth time in one night) to brush her teeth before bed.
Me explaining why I am, and any self-respecting female would be, too proud to twerk.
Me asking her if she just farted at the dinner table. Ok, more like me telling her she just farted at the dinner table and that she better admit it. Now.
Before she starting taping me, I did not know it was possible for one woman to be so bossy, so forceful, so condescending to her children, so utterly lacking in patience.
Especially such a fine mother — a woman as sweet, loving and self-sacrificing as myself.
Now, she is my third child.
One might argue that over the long years of motherhood, I have gotten tired and depleted my reserve of sweetness.
That my daughter is capturing me at my worst moments.
Except that I actually feel far less uptight, much nicer, significantly more easy-going and laidback and less demanding around her than I did with my first two children, with whom I admit I was perhaps a little high-strung.
Thus it suddenly seems entirely possible that I have been an uptight, prissy, domineering mom since day one.
I just didn’t know it.
Could this be part of the strange headgame motherhood plays with us?
The global village constantly tells us we are TERRIBLE moms — because we don’t breastfeed for the 11.94 months research shows impacts IQ most, or we once let our baby cry in his highchair so we could talk to our own mother or long-lost college roommate for ten more minutes. To counter it, maybe we produce antibodies that falsely convince us we are BETTER mothers than we actually are.
This would be important, because if I had known what a bad mother I actually was, I might have quit my post. A looooong time ago. Perhaps this distorted view of motherhood is Darwinian. We stick around longer and stay more involved in raising our children because we believe we are better mothers than we actually are.
In some ways, it’s all moot: it doesn’t matter how good at motherhood WE think we are. The only judges of our mothering abilities, after all, are our children. They are the ones we are mothering. They are the only ones who know whether or not we are any good at it.
The best news? My 12-year-old finds videotaping me – and watching my reactions to her work product — hilarious. Apparently, she doesn’t take me terribly seriously. She is not cowed by my know-it-all prison warden approach to motherhood.
I must be doing something right, after all.