Of my many flaws, believing that I only have a few isn’t one of them.
On the flip side, I’m very, very good finding fault in almost everything I do.
It’s a trait that I come by honestly – it was passed down by the maternal side of my family, but I’m not sure whether its longevity is linked more to nature or nurture. While my mother and grandmother excelled at identifying their own weaknesses, they were less successful at keeping those discoveries to themselves.
I am cursed by these same behaviors.
As a little girl, I grew up hearing my mother talk about her mistakes, missteps and misfortunes. When I became a teenager, she no longer had to point them out because I did an outstanding job of doing that for her. Now, I just point out my own.
And even though I’m well aware of the warnings from psychologists and child development experts that we can damage our children when we speak poorly of ourselves, I do it anyway.
And yes, my children picked up on my behavior. What they haven’t done is repeat it. Perhaps their father’s side of the family is more dominant than mine, because they haven’t even taken my concerns about my inadequacies very seriously.
Instead, they’ve turned them into a running joke
When I started saying “I’m a horrible mom,” to note that I had experienced a parenting fail, they quickly picked up on the phrase.
When I expressed dismay or worry about a decision, one of them would say “Hash Tag Horrible Mom.” They found it so amusing that they began using it as the punctuation mark to most of my sentences – almost as a sign of affection.
And while I may suffer from an intense need to openly identify all my faults, I don’t lack a sense of humor.
That means I can not only appreciate how ridiculous I can be, I can also have fun.
And so it was last Sunday night when my daughter and her BFF were trying to complete a display for their social studies fair project. I tried to assist as needed, but I was actually contributing to the silliness as much, if not more, than they were.
I was attempting to restore some order to the overly loud and raucous high -jinks, when my daughter played the Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On.” Kendall knows none of us can be serious when that song plays – especially since her brother shared Matt Mulholland’s You Tube video “My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight.” (My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight)
As soon as the first sorrowful notes began to play, I stopped in mid reprimand to launch into song – complete with overly dramatic arm gestures and facial expressions. The girls joined in, and the social studies project was forgotten.
At least, it was forgotten until my husband marched into the family room to complain about the noise level, of which I was a primary contributor.
When he left the room, I muttered “what a grumpy dad” under my breath.
The girls picked up on my words immediately. “Hash Tag Horrible Mom Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” they said. The line has stuck.
Ironically, I no longer consider their words to be a reminder of our faults.
Instead, they are a reminder that, even though we may do many things wrong, my husband and I have obviously done just as many things right.
We encourage our children to pursue their passions. We help with school projects. And, perhaps most important, we have a home that promotes creativity and freedom of expression (within reason of course).
If the worst my children can say about us is “Hash Tag Horrible Mom and Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” then I maybe I should start ending my sentences with “#notsohorribleofamomafterall.”
Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering or writing, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.