Monday, January 28, 2008

I Wonder, As A Mother, What My USDA Rating Would Be

When I had my twins - 15 years ago - I think I was a pretty good mother.

I think I was like most new mothers, in that I did everything by the book. I kept them on a schedule, I burped them after each feeding, I gave them a bath nearly every single day, I put shoes and socks on their feet, I brushed their hair and put lovely pony-tails on the sides of their heads. I was a good mom.

The more kids I began to have, the farther and farther I began to stray from the "model mother" persona that I once resembled. Actually, it probably began to fade long before I actually gave birth to my son. The beginning of the downward spiral was - oh ... probably after about the first year after my twins were born.

So ... that means - if am going to be honest - that I have been a less than "model mother" for at least 15 years - giving myself credit for being exceptional for merely one year!

Yep - that sounds about right.

I have been very aware of this failing for many, many years. It bothers me, of course, and I often try to do better - but, I am just a mediocre mom in most regards. I yell - far too much! I complain - far too much! I set very high expectations - way too much! On some things - like school - I think I am pretty successful as a mother. And, in raising some pretty fun, loving and socially adept children - I have done well. But ... there are certainly some areas that I am miserable at and have failed pathetically. I am a mediocre mom. I know all this.

Yesterday, Alexis came over to where I was sitting on the couch and stood in front of me.

In her hand she held a banana.

I watched as she began eating this banana.

Suddenly ... I saw ... as she folded down the peel, the nastiest bruise on the side of the banana.

In my mind I thought, "Is she going to keep eating that yucky, bruised banana?"

She took another bite.

In my mind I thought, as I squinted my eyes and my stomach turned a flip, "Is she going to eat that yucky part of that banana?"

She took yet another bite.

In my mind I thought, "Should I tell her? Should I tell her?" and then I watched, through squinted eyelids (because I couldn't watch out-right or I felt like I surly might throw up), as she took a big bite - eating the yucky bruised part of the banana.

She stood in front of me and ate the whole banana - yucky, squishy, bruised parts and all.

I let her.

I never said a word.

I debated about telling her, but thought, "It won't kill her. If she likes the taste and the texture doesn't bother her - let her eat it. I wouldn't eat it, but it won't kill her. It shouldn't do anything to her, other than encourage astonishment from others if she ever does it around anyone outside of our house. That's okay - my sister has been known to eat boiled shrimp - shells and all (blech!) - Alexis will fit right in - as long as she always sits next to my sister. "

Being as Alexis is the 4th child - it occurred to me - while I watched her eat this banana - that I would have had a hard time eating - that I have never told that child about rotten fruit. Either that - or she chose to ignore this lesson and has decided to distinguish between those things she will eat and won't eat, on her own. I prefer to believe the latter.

This is just an example of how my mothering skills have seriously deteriorated over the years. Somewhere along the way, I stopped teaching the lesson about rotten fruit.

I'm certain there are many other lessons that I have failed to teach Alexis that I probably taught my first born children - because she is at the tail-end of our line of children and also because she has been stuck with me as her mother (*sigh*).

I hope she survives.


On the upside ... I guess with Alexis around, not much fruit will ever go to waste in our house. And ... when my kids eat boiled shrimp, I'll try to remind them to peel the shells off first. My poor sister - she didn't realize you weren't supposed to eat the shells until I told her (you should have seen my face when I saw her crunching on those shrimp and then how we laughed - HA!) - just this past summer - she's in her 40's. I wonder why our mother never told my poor sister to take off those shells? Maybe my poor mothering skills aren't my fault at all - maybe it's just a disease that has been passed down from generation to generation in our family. That's probably what happened. We're just defective or genetically challenged in the mothering department.

80 comments:

JCK said...

Oh, the SHOCK, the dismay when I read this post. I'm reporting you RIGHT away to those...Banana Republic authorities, no I mean the USDA inspectors posing as child service workers! Kellan, you crack me up. I am WITH you on the bruised banana. But, you have scored A+, I would venture to say, on the MOST important things a mother could pass down to her children... love and being there for them. And I know from your stories that these things are true.

And anyone who can have another child after having twins earns extra Mommy BONUS points - at least from me!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Much better to have a child who is not picky enough than one that is too picky.

Have you heard of "good enough mothering?" I'm a fan.

Bavani said...

If it makes you feel any better, I let my little 16-month old (who is my first and only child so far) eat the bruised parts of bananas too :) - I figure, as long as it's not rotten, but just bruised, it's worth eating. But I will draw a line with the eating of prawn shells hahaha

Angela said...

Oh well at least you did not let her eat the peel.
You taught her that much
Good job good mommy

Are You Serious! said...

I'm with jck! My kids won't eat the bruised parts but I don't think I've ever told them not too. They just don't! My sister likes the brown banana's! blech... Mine need to be all yellow with a tiny bit of green!

Great post! I could imagine your expression completely! :)

LunaNik said...

Bruised banana or no bruised banana...you are USDA Grade A all the way <3

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

ew, I could just feel the tension and disgust, waiting for her to eat the bruised part! (honestly I would be so happy if my kids were that non-picky!)
It is our job as a mother to feel like we are never good enough at our jobs. That first year of great parenting was simply that we were too naive and inexperienced to realize how badly we were doing:) but you are right that more and more things get left out as we have more kids. Like matching clothes and socks...
I would say that you must be doing something right, cuz your kids sound pretty terrific!

OHmommy said...

Okay....now this is my most favorite post of yours ever.

I am only realizing now how different of a mother I am to all three kids.

Thanks for the GREAT story!

Melek said...

but think about it....where did we get the idea that eating bruised fruit was bad? it's still fruit. and unless it has maggots on it, it's still edible. i think we're all freaked out about it bc it looks funny and maybe the texture is different (i wouldn't know bc i won't eat those nasty bruises). so maybe she'll grow up better adjusted bc she makes her own choices on whether or not to eat bruised fruit...

and like you said, you'll never have to throw away bad fruit in your house...so there's THAT.

The Boyds Family said...

My three y/o once tried to eat the ENTIRE banana - peel and all - before I told her not to. So you letting her eat the bruise doesn't sound so bad.. AND my eleven y/o eats sunflower seeds - shell and all! BLECH!!

If letting your child eat the bruised part of a banana is the worse thing you do then you are FAR superior in your parenting skills than I. ;)

Steph said...

I personally think you are a great Mom based on what I have read in your blog! I think we all get a little lax and sometimes for the better with each child that we have. I have been accused by many as being to laid back, oh well they have their style and I have mine!

justabeachkat said...

I've been out of town until last night so I've had a good time tonight catching up on all your posts I've missed. Girl, you crack me up!!!!!!!

Hugs!
Kat

Hillary said...

Always blame things on genetics when you can. :)

Sheri said...

I think as mom's we have to pick our battles. Otherwise we would lose our minds. lol
I think the with twins, they just broke you in really quick.

Cathy said...

Tell you sis not to feel to badly -- I ate a whole pile of shrimp tales before anyone bothered to notice and inform me that this was not common practice. Oh, the shame. I was a teenager.

Lizzy in the Burbs said...

Hi, Kellan!

I've been away for a few days due to my computer, so I've had to catch up on all your posts. This one is so funny! You are not alone I assure you, we all relax our standards as the number of our children increases, it's just a part of life, I guess! The banana was good for her, bruises and all, even if it looked yucky! (I'm with you, I probably wouldn't have eaten it either!) :) Oh, and just so your sister doesn't feel so bad, my father in law eats the whole shrimp, also, and on purpose! He says it's good fiber!

BTW, I loved your story about Billy! Children are so honest and wise sometimes, aren't they? Bless his little heart! Take care.

Lizzy

Amy said...

I think there are a whole lot of fourth born's out there eating bruised fruit. The amazing thing about the baby of the family is they are more laid back, go with the flow. I know, I married one.

Melissa said...

I have yet to meet the perfect mother so I think your safe with your little one eating a questionable banana....now the shrimp shells, that's just gross ;)

frog ponds rock... said...

I always told my children that there were extra vitamins in the bruised bits of the bananas..ooops

hehehehe cheers kim

Darla said...

Oh my, I should be on here daily getting a dose of your "upside"! I personally LOVE your mothering skills! I am very similar in my ways...except I happen to be a ripe banana eater by choice, so there is a chance that she is too! My kids are more on your side, they wouldn't touch a ripe banana to save their lives!!! :) I love this blog!

Family Adventure said...

Kellan, I would give ANYTHING to have my boys eat a banana with even the slightest imperfection. They both refuse to touch any food that isn't perfect.

And believe me, I NEVER taught them that. I find it a pain in the butt.

So now I'd like Alexis to come over to Norway and show my boys how to eat fruit with just a small bruise. Can we arrange that??

Heidi :)

carrie said...

My boys actually LOVE to eat the shells off boiled shrimp -- did they learn this from moi? Nooooo.

My Uncle taught them to eat 'em like that.

I still haven't figured out what his payback will be . . .

And you're not mediocre at all. In fact, I think you're probably pretty stellar!

Katrina said...

Max is a fourth child too.

My mom used to say if the first baby dropped a pacifier, you would boil it for 10 minutes for giving it back.

Second child, you'd just rinse it off.

Third child, you'd just wipe it on your pant leg and back it goes! (there were three of us, can you tell? I was the guinea pig, er, first child.)

Max eats a lot of dirt and lint. ;o) He and Alexis will be just fine. And I agree about the "good enough mothering."

Tot's Mom said...

Now, you are giving me ideas that perhaps having more than one child is not too ideal, since we will have deteriorating mothering skills as we go down the line. ;)

Toni said...

I have to say if my daughter was eating a banana and it was bruised, I don't think I would've pointed it out either. If the worst thing she experiences is eating a bruised fruit than I think she is pretty fortunate. She is pretty fortunate, anyway, for having YOU for a loving mother who takes her to DQ and suffers through all that.

Laura said...

It sure is funny how our standards lower with each child! Have been a mom for just over 4 years and was a model mom for 11 months - then came the second baby, then 25 months later, a third baby..now with the 3rd child, I am doing things I would have NEVER done (or not done) with my others!!!!

thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

I'm only 17 months into my first child and I already feel like barely a mediocre mom! Sometimes I let him get so dirty and grubby and other times I indulge him too much....This job is HARD!

Jacki said...

Oh God, I hate bananas as it is, but when someone eats the bruise I just want to puke!

But, I like to call myself a "GEM"...."Good-Enough-Mom." Hey, if it works, it works. :-)

kim-d said...

Sometimes and in some situations, I think the defining moment of being a contender for Mother of the Year lies in letting your children have minds of their own. Not only is it not bad mothering, it is the BEST mothering. After all, how else will they learn to make their own decisions, make their own way in life, and move out on their own eventually. Which you KNOW you want them to do when it is time :). That, too, is good mothering. Shrimp, shells and all? Well, unless there was a serious "back-up" problem, maybe not so good. HAHAHAHA! The good thing is, it seems like no matter what kind of a mother you are, two things are sure to happen with kids: 1) there will be a time when good ole Mom gets blamed for everything, and 2) they usually get over it. So, it's all good! This sure gave me a good start to my day, and I thank you for the chuckles!

Irene said...

The shrimp story is hilarious. But seriously, even if your mom never told you about shrimp shells, it seems, that sometime, in your 40 years of life, that you may have gotten that information passed on? Too funny. Definitely LOL funny.

I do notice big differences between when I had 1 child, and now that I have 3. I used to bath my first every night. After bath we used to play on my bed, snuggling afterward. We used to spend a HOUR reading stories every night.

Last night my girls had a bath, because I realized that they hadn't had one for a WEEK! How bad is that!? Of course, they are still little, don't get outside etc, but STILL!

Yes, it is very different now. And NO you are not a bad mom, just a mom!

Jen said...

My husband eats rotten food all the time! He has a stomach of steel, and don't even get me started on HIS mother. (Hee hee) Keeping up that "model mother" behavior with 4 kids would be exhausting, and you still wouldn't be a perfect mommy, because there is no such thing. We all just do the best we can. I think you are doing a great job, and I'm sure your kids agree.

Karen said...

I purposely don't tell my kids. They find these things out quickly enough themselves, and in the meantime I don't waste food. I'm with you - it won't hurt them a bit!

One Scrappy Chicklet said...

Yes raising children is kind of like seeing a auto accident on the interstate. You don't want to look but you have to.
They are loved and that is what matters.

Have a great week.
Tami

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Someone told me the other day that EVERY candy bar we eat has up to 8 bug legs in it...if that doesnt kill us, I doubt that a banana bruise will!

Contest going on at my site - drop in if you get a chance!

Hallie

Happy Days said...

Great story!! So true! I love the differences in my three. Although not all of them are my fault, some definately are. Thanks for sharing!

Patti said...

I'm a mediocre Mom too and I cannot believe your sister didn't know to take the shell off of shrimp. LOL but... to be fair if it's not something you've eaten your whole life I can see the confusion. I love seafood but I still don't "really" know how to eat a whole lobster so I just eat the tail.

Jen said...

Sorry, but I tagged you for a meme. You were probably tagged for it already with your tons of readers, but you haven't done it yet, so I tagged you again!

Holly said...

Oh no! I just read this in disbelief! No really, My son, who is the 3rd child found a fruit loop on the floor the other day. He picked it up, inspected it breifly and said "I eat that". Ah, to be 2 again!

Kami said...

Don't feel bad, I only have 2 and I could win a prize for the most mediorceness!

My friend just told me she did that with shrimp when she was in Hawaii last year... she just thought the shrimp were different there! I laughed at her but in a friendly kind of way :-)

Kelly said...

Okay. So if your parenting skills falter as you go down the line with your children, what is my excuse for watching my first born son eat his own bogger the other day, and instead of telling him why that is wrong, I just got out the camera to laugh and snap a picture.

Hetha said...

I love it. If that is the best you can do to illustrate your sub par mothering, then you're doing pretty well Kellan!

I'm still so sick and have yet to get caught up on your posts (you write too much!)

jennifer h said...

I'm on board with good enough mothering. Besides, didn't you have the older children so they could teach the younger ones a few things, like about bananas? I'd dock their allowance, if I were you, 'til they step up.

And, for the record, I'm not sure that women like Martha Stewart have done our collective confidence any favors. Yeah, she's fantastic at many things (or her staff is), but she's a freak of nature, too.

From here, it looks like you're doing a great job.

Joanna said...

Ohmyword! I couldn't stop laughing! Have you ever figured out when it is that we let go of by the book?

girlymom said...

Ok- my comment didn't save, so I will keep it short...my daughter eats the whole apple- ew yuck gross, I cringe at the banana bruise with ya.
Sometimes I just hope that if I can gets things right with the oldest that it will trickle down through the other kids- it's a good dream! Your a great mom Kellan! :)

bren j. said...

Burping a baby after every meal? Crap! I've dropped the ball already!

Karen MEG said...

Kellan, how dare you, reporting you to the authorities right now, you bad momma you ;). I think your parenting style is great. There's no way you can keep up that first child standard once #2 arrives. At least that's what I keep telling myself as I feed G her spilled crackers from the floor LOL!
Oh, and shrimp shells, hubs usually eats them on, which I used to find gross, but I'll do it occasionally too. Gotta have some fibre in there, right?

Amy said...

Oh Kellan you're a great mom! Honestly with each girl, I've gotten a little more lax each time. I used to be a psycho about lines in the carpet when I vacuumed, now I just call the dog. And she is going to learn all those skills from her older siblings, at least that's what my little one is doing. Well she's learning all the things I DON'T want her too!

HRH said...

It is all in how you label it...instead of "deteriorating" parenting skills, think of it as "promoting more independence" or "laid back and relaxed". It will help you sleep better at night! Too funny, I would have done the same thing...as entertainment...is that so wrong?

nicki said...

Don't we all have strengths and weaknesses? I'm positive that you have way more strengths than you're letting on!!

Val Cox said...

you are great! I think letting the little things go is an important part of our own maturity.

missy said...

Hey, at least she was eating fruit!!

Brittany said...

Sigh. I already find myself slacking. I've only been a mom for two years, and I'm a slacker. oh well.

dawn224 said...

ewwwwwww.

but then in our house, if the bananas went brown it meant banana bread :)

Nicki said...

Sorry, but I think you are a pretty darn good mom, given all I've read. I remember reading a story once about how things change from the first to the third child. First: you sterilize a pacifier that falls on the ground. Second: you either blow on or suck on the pacifier that falls on the ground. Third: you give the pacifier that was just in the dog's mouth, right back to the baby. Just an example, sometimes it's surprising that our subsequent children survive!

the dragonfly said...

I'm only on baby #1, but my hospital roommate, who had a baby the same day as me, is mommy of five. When I spend time with her and her kids, I feel a bit like overprotective-psycho-mommy. And really I'm not...she's just very laid back. :)

I'm sure Alexis will be fine...although bruised bananas make me squeamish. :)

Aliki2006 said...

I think it's the letting go part of motherhood that truly shows we've become great.

Pam said...

Uhm- if you are a bad mom- I don't even want to think about what I am. My daugher- when she was small and crawling- picked up a dead fly and tried to eat it- YUK! So, feel comfort in knowing, you are not alone in the yell too much, expect too much departments!

kaylee said...

I am sure you are a great mom :)

Amy said...

I think you're being a little hard on yourself. I'm a yeller too...LOL..and if one of my kids actually ate a banana bruised or not, I would be doing a happy dance because they both seem to have some sort of fruit aversion disorder...oh and I eat the whole shrimp to shell and all...don't know why..just always have and yes everyone makes fun of me for it so I hardly ever eat shrimp..:-)

Mo said...

I let my girls eat the bruised parts too. I figure, if it won't hurt them, there's no point in worrying :)

Amy said...

oh sorry just wanted you to know I added you to my faves..:-)

Dawn said...

Oh, I've missed reading your blog the last few days! It was great to catch up. You are not alone in letting your kids eat things you wouldn't- I've done the same thing (and wondered the whole time about my mothering skills). This was so funny.

tommie said...

having two back to back will do that to you as well!

joan said...

I think that would have made me sick also but a bad Mom, no way girl. You just have learned not to sweat the small stuff.

Cheeky said...

Yeah I gave up that model mom stuff after about 6 mos with teenage daughter - she lived (well, so far)

Pennies In My Pocket said...

Some things kids just have to learn themselves and who knows, had you told her maybe she would all the sudden detested bananas as a whole or would have become super picky with every little mark and bruise on any fruit.

I bet you are hard on yourself - far too much, too. The fact that you are aware of your actions makes you a MUCH better mom than the vast majority! ;)

~melody~

Rima said...

Oh, I say if she's willing to eat a rotten banana, more power to her! And BONUS points for you because you're teaching her not to be wasteful!

This Southern Belle said...

Um, I eat the bruised part of bananas. Is there something I need to know? Phew, and I am a first child. I hate to think how my younger brother turned out! ;)

Amy said...

isn't it all about prioritizing and picking your battles! i bet you have learned how to do that very well over the last 15 years. i am SURE you have become a better mom every year. congrats on your success!

TheCynicalOptimist said...

My kid regularly drinks water with her back wash floaties in it. I have used Nutrogena bars that I can see through better than her beverages. Nasty stuff.

Victoria said...

I *wish* my kids would eat a banana with a bruise. They're kind of neurotic about their fruit. Bleck.

=)

Hazel said...

good mummy

Sniz said...

I like your conclusion! I fall under this category of mediocre mom too and pray often that God will help them remember the good, forget the bad, and that somehow they will learn what else they need to know to be good, moral adults!

thirtysomething said...

I too sometimes feel like I parent my last child differently than my first, or even my first two. But you are right, by the fourth, it is like...yeah, ok, if it won't kill 'em, it is probably going to be alright. Great post!

onthegomom said...

I always love, love, love your posts! They always make me smile and I can relate to them on some level. This one especially... I have certainly changed over the last 18 years of being a parent! It's amazing my daughter (the youngest) has made it to 10...LOL

Thanks for sharing your stories!!

multipleblessings said...

Hey! At least she's eating a banana! Not one of my four will touch them... But then, neither will I! ;)

Julie

bermudabluez said...

She's eating FRUIT at least, Kellan~:)

Anonymous said...

I read that the browner the banana the better it is for you, so she's just getting more nutrients than the rest of your family.
When Matt was a baby, it wasn't until he had been eating meats(he'd gone thru the fruit and veggie stage) for months that I remembered that I'd always warmed the foods for my older boys. I was feeding it to him ice cold right out of the frig. POOR BABY.
Vicki

Laura said...

I loved this post! I loved that you admitted imperfections (we all have them)although yours sounded pretty darn minor to me!

Kylie in Warsaw said...

I laughed out loud at this post. My youngest (4th child too) eats everything that's left. As soon as his brothers leave the table, he climbs right up and finishes their food. He'll eat any kind of banana (and because I'm the oldest child, I just cannot have him eat the brown bananas they're for banana bread;).

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