Early one morning my four-year-old daughter Cricket started throwing a tantrum because she couldn’t find her favorite floral overalls – or I wanted her to eat scrambled eggs, or my husband couldn’t drive her to school. I honestly don’t remember what set her off that morning, but whatever it was, it was enough to get her screaming at the top of her lungs and flailing and hitting. No amount of redirecting, consequences, or reasoning would calm her down.
I tried to control my patience, knowing full well that preschoolers test limits and have virtually no impulse control. But my patience grew thin and I lost it, yelling so loudly that I startled even myself. She just screamed louder and I found myself actually having a screaming match with a four-year-old. Not my proudest moment. My entire toolbox of parenting methods and understanding of preschooler behavior flew out the window.
I walked away, leaving her in mid-tantrum, went into my bedroom and slammed the door. I started to cry, loathing myself for losing my temper and vowing to do something –make some change – so that I could maintain control in the midst of the inevitable tantrums to come.
This blog is that something.
Now, maybe you’ve been there before and this scene doesn’t look so bad to you. We’ve all lost it at one time or another, right? Don’t we all have parenting moments we wish we could erase or redo? Well, if it happens to everyone, why had I found it so hard to forgive myself? Why had I gotten so upset at myself for losing my temper? Why had I expected my daughter to quiet down immediately in the first place?
Imperfect Mothers will address these questions.
That moment in my room I started to think about my own childhood. I was raised by two loving, intelligent, family-oriented parents, one of whom just happened to be an alcoholic. Even though this seemed light years away, I started to admit that growing up with an alcoholic must have been influencing the way I was parenting.
So I did what every Internet-savvy person would do: I googled “I was raised by an alcoholic, and now I’m a mother” hoping to find a blog or support group for moms like me. I couldn’t find much, unfortunately, that was geared towards daughters of alcoholics who are now mothers, wishing to break patterns learned in childhood, in order to move forward and raise happy kids.
I found out a few things about daughters of alcoholics in general, such as we often find it hard to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes, that we tend to be perfectionists and want to control others, and that we are always waiting for that infamous other shoe to drop. Mostly, I found that there wasn’t a lot of information about how this translated into raising my daughter.
I decided to start Imperfect Mothers, thinking that there must be a few other moms out there in the same boat, and that perhaps we could help each other navigate the unchartered waters in which we now find ourselves.
Daughters of alcoholics have a specific set of challenges as we enter motherhood. We may have broken the cycle of substance abuse and codependency, overcome intimacy issues, and made amends with our alcoholic parents. However, when we become mothers, we often relive painful memories, doubt our abilities, and realize we have few positive experiences and role models to guide us in raising healthy families. In short, when we become mothers, we are daughters of alcoholics all over again.
Imperfect Mothers will provide support and advice to mothers wanting to create a loving, nurturing, stable environment for their children in spite of their less-than-perfect upbringings. It is not about rehashing the past, blaming our parents, or even trying to do better than they did. It’s about moving forward, recognizing why we do the things we do, and trying to do better. One mistake at a time.