My Rock-Bottom Mom Moment Caught on Camera

Photo: Erin Zammett Ruddy There are so many things wrong with this photo that I don’t even know where to begin (the iPad usage; the fact that my 4-year-old is sitting in an infant carrier and wearing Christmas pajamas in late January; the sharpened pencil in her hand; the lack of love being shown toward the 2-month-old, who’s being fed by a 6-year-old). Trust me, it’s not my finest moment. But rather than write about how embarrassed I am by all of it, which is what I had planned to do, let’s talk about why it’s really not that big of a deal. You see, sometimes I feel like a great mom and think people would be impressed with all I do and how I do it (sans electronics), and other times, like this one, I’m not so on top of my game. And that’s OK.

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The shot was taken at 6 p.m. last Wednesday, a snow day here in New York. The day before was a half-day, and the day before that was a holiday, which means we’d been cooped up in the house for five days straight at this point. My husband was working from home and needed to jump on a call, and I had to be ready to leave the house in 15 minutes. It was my mother’s 65th birthday and my sisters and I were taking her out to dinner. Before dinner, we were stopping at a friend’s cocktail party, for which I had to bring an appetizer. I had accomplished that (this white bean dip that I swear by) with my three kids underfoot. I had also bathed them and laid out their clothes for school. I was banging through my to-do's, but suddenly the baby had to eat. And I had to shower. And I was already running late. And my husband was MIA. I mentioned that it was a snow day, right? Stir crazy doesn’t even begin to explain the behavior going on. So I corralled my entire brood in my room, handed out the iPads, gave my 6-year-old a bottle, and did what I had to do.

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Could I have kept them still without the iPads? Yes. We’re really not a big video game/electronics family. We limit TV and they rarely use the iPads, which belong to my husband and me. But I’d be lying if I said that technology didn’t come in handy sometimes. The kids asked and, frankly I didn’t have the time or the bandwidth to say no at that point (sometimes that’s reason enough to say yes these days). I also could have skipped the cocktail-party portion of the night, seeing as I was in the weeds, but I have a tough time saying no. I can’t do it all — and I don’t want to — but I do want to do a lot. And I’m usually pretty good at juggling it, though now that we have a third, the unforeseen obstacles have multiplied. Still, I made it out. And everyone was virtually unscathed. At the cocktail party, I was chatting with some women I hadn’t seen in a while and one kindly said, “Wow! You look great, you have an 8-week-old? Your third? And you’re out? And you cooked? I’m so impressed. How do you do it?” One of my closest friends, also a mother of three, was there, and I showed her the photo on my phone like a dirty little secret. We laughed hysterically. She knows this is not a normal scene at my house, and she also knows that when you’re doing it all on your own, sometimes it ain’t pretty. She made me show the photo to another mother at the party, and it was a big hit.

Bottom line: I think it's important for moms to share the "doing-whatever-it-takes" moments as well as the Pinterest-inspired, picture-perfect ones. Would I have posted this on Facebook? Um, no. Am I proud of it? Not really. But I’m taking one for the mom team and throwing myself under the bus here so that other moms can feel better about some of their own subpar parenting. You’re welcome.

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