Friday Free-For-All -- Your Worst Moments As a Mom

As we head off into the pink glow of Mother's Day this weekend, I want to give you (and myself) a true Mother's Day gift: the knowledge that you are not alone in the terrible things you (sometimes) do and say to your kids. We've all been there. Now's the time to fess up and share the worst mistake you ever made with your kids.

To get this started, I'll go: Quite recently, overcome by stress and how much I hate driving around in city traffic with my kids bickering in the back of the car, I let loose. I called my son a complete idiot and screamed at the top of my lungs at my daughter to Shut Up. My voice was so loud I believe it shook my Ford Expedition. My kids did pipe down after that.

Before you stop reading and start commenting, I've got one more request for you: In honor of Mother's Day, hold off on bashing each other (and me) for one day. Let's head into the weekend knowing we are all doing our best -- and that we all mess up. None among us is anything close to perfect. Fortunately, you don't have to be perfect to be a good mom.

Afternoon update: Leslie has posted a comment.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 12, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: A Celebrity Mom Guilt Trip | Next: Mother's Day Chorus: Give Us Flexibility!

Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I've done things like that, too, and I find it so hard to try to instill to my daughters to "be nice," when sometimes I break down and yell mean things to them. Not that I'm always yelling or saying mean things, because it is rare, but I still feel bad when they say mean things and I jump on them right away to, "be nice, or don't say those mean things to your friends, etc." I guess when they're grown I'll get to see if I've really screwed them up :)

Posted by: KS | May 12, 2006 7:37 AM

Today I accidentally cut my daughter's fingernail to short because she jerked, it bleed.

Another time I was trying to pull out of a parking lot with a lot of traffic and my daughter was screaming. I yelled really loud for her to be quite. She cried, I said I was sorry. (so everyone at some point in time does this Leslie)

I also have the Irish Catholic guilt thing going on that I try not to do that much, but its hard.

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 8:26 AM

Why is Leslie driving around in city traffic with kids when she has a nanny?

If that's the worst mistake Leslie has ever made with her kids..........

BTW, I used to tell my kids to Shut the F Up..............

Posted by: Eddie Haskell | May 12, 2006 9:23 AM


I didn't know you had a nanny? Can I borrow her or him?

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 9:35 AM

Not a mom moment, but I was a nanny (aka surrogate mom of sorts) and had a poor little guy who was only a year old with a cold. Runny nose, cough, the works. His mother (a work at home mom) sent us to do errands and the little guy finally fell asleep on the way to our last one - dropping off her orchids at the garden center to have done what ever it is they do to orchids to make them bloom again sooner. Well, I sat in the car for ages trying to figure out what to do. I didn't have the heart to wake him up (which he would do the second I undid his carseat), so I decided to leave him (locked in the car, parked in the shade on a not too warm spring day, in an enclosed private parking lot), and ran as fast as I could in and out of the garden center. Probably not even away from the car for 5 minutes. Felt soooooooo incredibly guilty, only later realized that this might have been against the law.

I was just so upset at the time at being sent out with the sick kid to do her errands. I would have rather spent the time rocking the little guy and giving him love and comfort and a warm bath and whatever I could do to make him feel better. Being sent out to buy diapers wouldn't have seemed so bad, but dealing with her precious orchids? Gimme a break. Nevertheless, I've learned my lesson and will NEVER EVER leave my daughter alone in the car even if it's in my driveway and I just have to run back in the house because I forgot my wallet or something.

Posted by: J | May 12, 2006 9:38 AM

I hate excuses for behavior - especially my own (excuses and behavior!) - I prefer to call the following an "explanation" of a "situation". Before my son was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder, life with him was a constant battle - naps, food, clothes - you name it, we fought over it. One particularly trying day after repeated attempts to get him to eat, get dressed and then stay in his room for a nap, he decided to destroy some books that I begrudging had let him have to coax him to remain in bed. I swooped in, screamed and paddled him hard on his behind and . . . he laughed at me! I must have looked completely ridiculous to him - all whipped up into a motherly foam over "The Wheels on the Race Car." Thank goodness my mantra of "I am the adult. I am the adult. I am the adult." kicked in and I left and sat in my room and cried at my thwarted attempt at corporal punishment.

Posted by: KH | May 12, 2006 9:43 AM

My infant son became collicky when he was about 2 weeks old. He cried, almost nonstop, from around 6 pm until around 2 am. I walked him, rocked him, jiggled him, rubbed his tummy, rubbed his back. Then one day, when none of this work, I just held him as I sat on in the rocking chair and cried with him.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 9:56 AM

I hope what I am going to share puts things in perspective... Yelling at your kids, or accidentally cutting them or even smacking them once is pretty crappy but they don't die.
My worst mom mistake lead to the loss of my youngest child. It was an innocent mistake and I thought I was doing the right thing but I wasn't. My daughter, Cassandra Anne, was having her forth surgery. It was a repair of her Nissen (a surgery done for reflux) and the hernia she got when it failed. Anyway my daughter was g-tube fed (she didn't eat by mouth) and I had always stressed that in her pre-op meetings but for this surgery I stressed that she has lost bladder function in her last surgery and if she wasn't cathed every 4 hours she could be in a lot of pain. Well this time the surgery was delayed, her fast was very long and she never woke up from sugery. We never knew it but Cassandra has hypoglycemia, she coudn't regulate her own blood sugar. If I had stressed the issue of her being g-tube fed and never having a long fast MAYBE they would have tested her blood sugar and MAYBE they would have caught it before she had irrepetable brain damage. Instead, I, her medical advocate, stressed the pain from a full bladder and she died.
I was the one who needed to speak for her. I spoke about the wrong thing and this mistake lead to the death of my dear sweet Cassie Boo.
So the next time you make a mistake as a mom, yell, hit, whatever.... Get down on your knees and hug your child with every ounce of your being. Say you are sorry and realize there are much worse mistakes you could have made. We are all human and doing the best that we can.

Posted by: Momma Daria | May 12, 2006 9:57 AM

I agree we're all doing the best we can for our kids, but you have got to be kidding me with that Ford Expedition. No wonder you hate being in "city" traffic. You're driving a rolling zip code. Gross.

Posted by: 3 kids in a Subaru wagon | May 12, 2006 9:59 AM

I hate beign in city traffic to and I drive an equinox.

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 10:06 AM

Mom daria. I work in the OR of a children's hospital. YOU did nothing wrong. It is the reponsibility of the medical professionals caring for your child to have made the connection of a long fast and hypoglycemia. However, it sounds like this was an undiagnosed problem and unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, sometimes underlying medical problems surface, and kill. Please talk to someone familiar with your daughter's case so that you can let go of this burden. God bless.

Posted by: CO | May 12, 2006 10:10 AM

Ah Daria, it wasn't your fault. Hugs to you.

I'm willing to cut Britney Spears some slack, because I didn't ease into the mommy role as easily as a lot of women seem to.

My son was about 2 months old and he was lying on the couch happily kicking his feet, and I was right next to him taking a moment to read the paper. Next thing I know, I hear a thunk and then a huge wail...he had kicked himself right off of the couch and onto his head on the floor. I got hysterical and rushed him to the hospital. There was nothing wrong with him, but I didn't forgive myself for a long, long time.

He's 12 harm done!

Posted by: Jennifer W. | May 12, 2006 10:10 AM

this morning my 2 year old kicked me in the stomach. I am 8 months pregnant and it hurt! She didn't mean it, but I yelled something profane at her and plopped her on the floor on her bottom. she cries so hard when I yell, but worse than that, she says things like "why you talk to me like that?" or "Don't talk to me like that NEVER!" through her tears. Ouch. Like I don't feel bad enough for losing my temper? And of course you feel like other moms NEVER lose their temper and thus you are the worst mom in the universe.

Posted by: MCM | May 12, 2006 10:23 AM

My youngest son climbed up a tree in our back yard when he was about 6 and it was dangerous for him to try and come down on his own. Neighbors had gathered in our yard and my oldest son, who was 8-1/2 at the time, excitedly said, "Mommy, I'm going to call 911!!" I told him, "No! I'll do it." It was one of those moments where as a mother I felt I was the only one who could handle this situation. For a quick moment I saw a look of deep hurt and disappointment in my son's eyes because I had denied him the opportunity to do something heroic and grown-up. I have never forgotten that look. What I did wasn't intentional, it's just that as a single parent I was use to being the one who took care of them, not realizing at that moment how proud my older son would have been to step up to the plate and take charge. He's almost 22 now and I've learned a lot from that day. I value his opinion and yield to his suggestions and willingness to help.

Posted by: Wini | May 12, 2006 10:25 AM

The worst mistake I made with my kids was not teaching then money management from an early age.

Leslie calling her son a "stupid idiot" sets off a lot of red flags that she still has issues from her first marriage when she was a battered wife.

Posted by: Art Vandelay | May 12, 2006 10:30 AM

Well, as I was reading along I was thinking, "these people have nothing on me," and preparing to jovially reveal my most horrible moments, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by Momma Daria's post. Your story breaks my heart, and I feel so terrible for your loss. I hope that with time you will be able to let go of the "if only I had..." and forgive yourself. It sounds like a horrible situation and I don't doubt for a second that you did the best that anyone in your position could have done.

And now, I will reveal my most horrible moments, more shamefacedly than jovially. I have, more than once, said in a seething voice, "go the F to sleep." But by far my lowest moment, when my son was about 15 months, came when I was incredibly sleep deprived and he was really fussy and I was so frustrated and couldn't get him to settle down and I said, "You are the most annoying baby in the world!" I was immediately overcome with guilt and apologized and told him he wasn't at all and then he started to cry. I felt so horrible realizing that he understood me, if not my exact words, then the general gist. It was a wakeup moment for me to be more aware of my temper and make sure I take it out somewhere else. I don't think I've said anything like that since then, though I still do occasionally utter a long string of swear words when we are up a lot at night, my only progress there being that they are no longer directed at him in the same way (if that counts for anything)

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 10:32 AM

I understand how you feel in having yelled at your daughter for kicking you in your stomach, but it's alright. You instinctively protected your unborn child the same way you would have instinctively protected your two year old had someone attacked her. So, the best thing to do now that you've reacted is to explain to her it was wrong of her to try and hurt you and the baby and how you are sorry for yelling at her, but you would yell at somebody else for trying to hurt her. Tell her she is a big girl and you need her to help you with the baby, not hurt the baby. Then give her a big hug and kiss and a smile and tell her how much you love her and you need her to be your helper.

Posted by: Wini -- again | May 12, 2006 10:35 AM

I know what Jennifer W. means about not easily transitioning into the mom role. I was 34 when I became pregnant, and it was unexpected. I'd not been able to conceive "on purpose" prior to that, so the discovery that I was pregnant was quite a shock. I was in the midst of serious relationship problems with my son's father, and he ultimately abandoned me while I was pregnant. After he left, I went through a nasty 6 week period where I seriously considered abortion, and called to make an apppointment for that procedure three times. Each time I cancelled, and ultimately, I had the baby, met and married a wonderful man, and now we both adore my (our) son.

Now, when I have cut his fingernail nail too short, or failed to prevent him from sticking his hand in the VCR, I try to keep perspective. But there have been times when I have overreacted (usually by yelling) to anything that has or might hurt him. I wonder if I'd be so uptight and overprotective if I hadn't considered terminating the pregnancy???

Posted by: FairfaxWorkingMom | May 12, 2006 10:35 AM

Hey, Art, way to get in the spirit of things. It takes guts for a woman to acknowlege a low moment like that, and I don't know a single parent who hasn't had at least one. Most of them just don't admit it.

Posted by: Mel | May 12, 2006 10:41 AM

Momma Daria --

I am so sorry for your loss. But please let me echo the previous posters: IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!!! You sound like a mom who was advocating strongly for your daughter's needs, as you understood them. If you had known about they hypoglycemia, I have no doubt that you would have advocated as strongly for that as you did for her bladder problem. Right? You did everything that you could have done, or that anyone could expect. The sad thing is, sometimes that's not enough. Please don't beat yourself up over something that you couldn't control and shouldn't have been responsible for.

My worst parenting mistake is ongoing: when I lose my temper with my daughter, especially those times that (a) I am frustrated with something else and take it out on her, and/or (b) I use a sarcastic tone of voice. She is extremely smart and energetic and headstrong and in need of a lot of attention (and a tremendous putzer to boot), and she challenges me every day. I know from experience that what works with her is to explain the rules beforehand and enforce them calmly and consistently. And yet sometimes I just snap and yell -- or worse, say something sarcastic (which just tells her that I think she's stupid, which of course is not the case). The worst is at bedtime, when I am exhausted and just want a calm, quiet time snuggling and reading a story and talking, and she is putzing and delaying and running around playing. And yet deep down, that's when she most needs the calm, quiet mommy time, so when I yell and just put her in bed, she gets hugely upset and will cry for a half-hour or more until dad comes up to settle her down. I feel like a failure every time this happens, because I know there must be a better way.

I know I'm a good mom, and I know that no one can be perfect all of the time (luckily, these incidents don't happen too frequently). I have learned far more patience from dealing with her than I thought was humanly possible. The vast majority of the time, I stay under control, because I just tell myself that I am the adult, and she is watching everything I do for clues as to how she should behave. And when I do go over the line, I apologize to her. I remember when I was a kid, my mom once apologized to me for taking out her frustration on me when she was really angry at something else, and that had a HUGE impact on me (for someone as powerful as a mom to be admitting a failure, and apologizing to someone so much further down the totem poly, made me feel incredibly special). But the guilt of losing my cool, of yelling just because I needed to vent even though I know that it's counterproductive and hurtful, still weighs on me.

Posted by: Laura | May 12, 2006 10:58 AM

I'm a new granny, so suddenly aware ALL OVER AGAIN of everything baby/kid. Hind-sight is always 20-20 but I try not to beat myself up about "bad" things my kids experienced while under my care.

One example: There was a time in this country when you would leave your baby asleep in the car with the windows open a bit, in not too warm weather, etc while you unloaded the groceries or ran in to pick up the dry-cleaning. I've knew Moms who used a car ride to put the baby to sleep for naps and then let the baby nap in the car while they did housework, yardwork, etc. They felt safe doing that.

Now rewind to a time 1950's)before most Moms had cars of their own: my own Mom used to leave me in my pram outside shops in Chicago, as did ALL the moms, while she ran into the butcher, dry cleaner, etc. Prams were too big to fit into the doorways and small spaces of these old city shops. These moms certainly did not mean any harm to their babies and none came to the vast majority of them,in fact.

Of course, we all know it's not worth it in the long run as the bit of time/sanity we saved then we now use to regret our actions! My own wake-up call came when I thought I was keeping an eye on my car containing my sleeping baby - in a very quiet and safe suburban shopping plaza, while briefly in a shop. But when I returned to the car I found a note under my windshield, castigating me for leaving a sleeping baby alone in the car. Someone had noticed, although there were no cars near mine in the lot. I was so ashamed! I imagine whoever left the note was still watching me to make sure the baby was not left very long. And I sure never did it again.

We should maybe be asking how we can make parenthood/caregiving a less time-pressed, exhausting, desperate endeavor. Parenthood is a 24/7 job and we need regular breaks and safety valves to do a decent job. We can be better parents if we have some time to ourselves each and every day. But it's also up to us to schedule it in just like everything else or IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN - trust me on that one.

Another taboo topic for moms/caregivers - "shaking" babies/kids. We all now know that it's harmful. But I distinctly remember old movies on TV, where people shook kids or even adults to show their anger, distress or make a point. The thinking, I guess, was that shaking was not thought to be harmful or abusive, like hitting would be. Even in play, real Dad's and uncles would sometimes be way too quick and rough, especially with boys. Now we know better. But we didn't always!

I am tempted (but also a little afraid) to ask my grown kids for their memories of any "bad" stuff I/we/others did to them. I am betting their lists would be different from the one I remember. Then I could apologize and forgive myself once and for all. It would be a perverse, but very special Mother's Day gift.

Posted by: new granny | May 12, 2006 11:00 AM

My worst moment was with my older daughter (now grown) when I picked her up from child care one evening. She was about 3 years old and didn't want to leave yet (she was having too much fun). So I grabbed her hand and pulled up when she resisted. Her elbow ended up dislocated, but I didn't even know it until she sat at home for 45 minutes without moving. Off we went to the E.R., and I felt like the worst mom ever. I was sure my ex-husband would fine out and give me some real grief or charge me with child abuse, but the doctor told me he'd done it himself to his own kids...called it "nursemaid's elbow". He popped it back in place, I threw a ball towards her, and she reached up without thinking about to prove she was fine. She went on to dance competitively for many years, so no harm done in the end!

Posted by: Sue | May 12, 2006 11:01 AM

Momma Daria - I'm so sorry for your loss. You did your best, and that's the best a mom can do. **hugs**

I yell, not very often in my book(once a month maybe), usually if my kids are dawdling (they're 3 and 5) and if my husband is travelling, so I have a shorter fuse because I'm more tired. The worst though, is the look of fear and surprise in their eyes when I yell, or when, as happened the other day, when I hadn't yelled in weeks, my 3 year old daughter said to me as I was gently coaxing her out of the car, "Don't yell, Mommy." I felt two inches tall.

Posted by: Ruth | May 12, 2006 11:03 AM

I've told each of my two college attending children (more than once) that they are not supposed to be home on weekends. They always look like I've punched them in the stomach and I feel really awful afterwards.

The truth is that I've gotten used to not having to cook and clean for everyone all the time, or etc. etc. I pay a lot for their room and board but since they're both in Maryland, somehow they both end up at home every other weekend!

And, they bring their laundry and they add things to my grocery list, ARGGGGHH!!!!

Posted by: Empty Nest? Hah! | May 12, 2006 11:07 AM

As someone who's been trying to get pregnant and been treated for infertility now for about 3 years, all of these comments are EXTREMELY hard to read. :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( Please, appreciate your children and appreciate that you HAVE them. . . :( :( :( :( :(

Posted by: Herndon | May 12, 2006 11:10 AM

Dear Herndon:
I'll be praying for you. In 1987, my second son was born at 26 weeks, weighed 1 lb. 13 ozs., dropped to 1 lb. 6 ozs., and we were told he may not walk, talk or think for himself. Because of my deep faith in God's love and His healing power, that same child is graduating from high school on June 16th. He's a left-handed golfer and skateboarder and there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with him. I will be praying that God will bless you abundantly with a child.

Posted by: Wini -- yet again ... | May 12, 2006 11:17 AM

Herndon, I certainly understand what you are saying, and I hope that you are able to have a child of your own someday. But please do not assume that those of who are sharing these stories do not appreciate our children. My son is the single greatest joy in my life. I did not know it was possible to love another being as much as I love him, and I have learned so much from having him in my life.

But parenting is just plain hard work sometimes, and the fact that as parents we lose our cools and do things we regret is inevitable. Sharing our stories and seeing that other parents have these moments too does a world of good for me; knowing that I am not alone and hearing how other people cope helps me feel and act like a better parent.

Good luck to you.

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 11:19 AM

To Herndon:
If you ever have children, then you will understand these posts and empathize. Until then, please reserve judgment. The whole point of this is to let mothers unburden themselves and understand that no mother is perfect. You won't be either if you ever get to experience being a mother.

Posted by: Arlington | May 12, 2006 11:19 AM

My grown son has taken the opportunity a couple of times to complain to me about my mistakes.

Things were much rougher for him growing up than they should have been. But because those times were particularly difficult for me I didn't always behave the best.

So I took the opportunity to say to him, "You know you are right. You should have had it easier. I should not have talked to you that way. You deserved better."

I think those conversations made us both feel better.

Posted by: BD | May 12, 2006 11:23 AM

"Leslie calling her son a "stupid idiot" sets off a lot of red flags that she still has issues from her first marriage when she was a battered wife."

This is not nice and uncalled for. Everyone loses their temper and if the worst ting she does is call her kid a name, then that's not so bad.

Did I miss something also? Where did Leslie say she was a battered woman?

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 11:28 AM

This is not the worst thing I 've ever done as a mom, but whenever my 9-year-old son is angry, he brings this up as "the time you lied to me." Between the ages of 3 and 6, my son truly believed that I had eyes at the back of my head. He was very angry when he found out I didn't - despite my attempts at explaining that it was a figure of speech.

Posted by: B | May 12, 2006 11:33 AM

Once, at bedtime, my 3-year-old prayed that "Mommy and Daddy don't be angry with me." Ouch.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 12, 2006 11:44 AM

Us youngins' were taught to sit quietly in cars; no need for our parents to yell at us...
As a passenger today, I pretty much keep my mouth shut.

Posted by: Art | May 12, 2006 11:57 AM

To the person who feels the need to talk about Leslie being a battered wife. First of all, I don't even know if this is true. But let's say it is. What kind of person are you when you feel the need to mention it in such a public forum, where it is hardly relevant to the discussion. Does it make you you feel good to try to humiliate a woman who was battered in the past? Are you some kind of sadist? Or are you just stupid and insensitive? Whatever you happen to be, look at it this way. Battered or not, Leslie has something to say. She makes good money saying it. She has an audience and a family and a very nice career. So none of your poison can hurt her, and really, it just hurts you because from your posts, I can see what a miserable person you are.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 12:05 PM

My Mom accidentally ran over my foot with her car when I was 10 years old. No permanent harm was done to my foot and honestly nothing traumatic came of the event, but I know at the time my mom felt horrible. It didn't help that the pediatrician said out loud to a busy waiting room "you ran over your daughter's foot with your car?" while we were waiting.

Anyways, I don't have any children yet, but i want moms to remember that children don't hold grudges and eventually grow up and realize that their parents are human and will make mistakes.

Posted by: in wash dc | May 12, 2006 12:08 PM

Childhood is the testbed for adulthood. Not every moment of adulthood will be pleasant, nor should every moment of childhood. While I try to be the best mother I can, there are times I've ended up yelling. This usually has happened when the kids have been warned twice (in a polite tone) that their actions are improper and must be stopped.

An adult who says he never misbehaved as a child and was never yelled at by an adult either had a parent who was absent physically or mentally or has an absent mind. All parents have "lost-it" one time or another. But, is it wrong? It teaches the child there are limits to a responsible adult's patience. The key is that this happens rarely. If the child learns a lesson from this, he shouldn't test the parent frequently.

I've been told by a child psychologist that children who are secure with their parents' love are more willing to "test" their parents' limits. It's the children who believe their parents' love is conditional who are most likely to follow strict behavior orders. Those children fear the parents will not love them unless they behave perfectly.

Posted by: 2 for me | May 12, 2006 12:23 PM

Reading these stories has made me laugh, cry and feel so good about being a mom. Thank you all!

Wanted to say I have also done the following:

1) left a sleeping child in a car when I shouldn't have
2) given my youngest nursemaid's elbow
3) yelled at my kids to go the F to sleep
4) told them they were the brattiest kids in the world

But I love them more than anything in the world, and they know it!

Other stuff:

1) My 1st husband physically abused me and that's why I left him. So I am a battered wife and not ashamed. But I'd like to clarify that the experience strengthened me and made me a better mom and better person.

2) For all you folks curious about my childcare arrangements, over the past 10 years I have had daycare, Montessori schools, public and private schools and summer camps. I currently employ a highly paid, highly skilled childcare craftswoman who helps us out about 30 hours per week so that I can work and stay (somewhat) sane. I also have a nice long list of high school and college age babysitters who work sometimes in the evenings so my husband and I can go out. Plus a great mother-in-law who drives down from New Jersey with a trunk full of homemade food every month or two.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 12, 2006 12:28 PM

My worst mom moment?

My nine year old hates brushing her hair, and it's usually a mass of tangles. She's also chronically late. I could make her dress for school the night before and she'd still find a way to be late. One morning, I'm brushing her hair because she's late, and she's yelling about how it hurts, be gentle, knock it off, this is stupid mom, it's your fault I'm late anyhow because you didn't wake me up nice etc. etc, covering her hair so I couldn't brush it and just being pleasant overall.

I got so tired of her whining and yelping over nothing when I'm trying to help her that I gave her long hair a HUGE tug which resulted in a big whelping OWW YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE, which is true, and I don't know which made me feel worse, the tug, or the fact that the tug made her quiet while I did the rest of her hair and that she, for once, got out of the house on time.

Posted by: Observer | May 12, 2006 12:28 PM

"I've been told by a child psychologist that children who are secure with their parents' love are more willing to "test" their parents' limits. It's the children who believe their parents' love is conditional who are most likely to follow strict behavior orders. Those children fear the parents will not love them unless they behave perfectly."

Thank you, 2 for me, for posting this interesting piece of information. I hope it's true. My kids test my limits all the time and I have done things other moms have mentioned here already.

Posted by: bethesdamom | May 12, 2006 12:36 PM

To the person who mentioned that secure and unconditionally loved children test their parents more -
This is absolutely true! When my normally calm, patient mother yelled or got frustrated with me as a child, I knew I deserved it. I saw her frustration as her last straw to my string of "pushes" - let's just say that my parents defintely had the book "How to Raise a Strong-Willed Child" - rather than her melting down because she was a bad parent. Quite the opposite.
Every child pushes the limits sometimes, and every mother just can't take it sometimes. If you could respond perfectly in every situation, your kids would probably grow up and wonder what kind of drugs you were on throughout their childhood.
On the other hand, there are bad parents out there, but I have found that this usually presents itself in a much more passive way - not the occaisional snap.

Posted by: scr | May 12, 2006 12:37 PM

I'm not a mom, but couldn't resist sharing one of my mother's biggest "oops" that we still laugh about today, 20 years later:

Let my start off by saying that my mother is the most nurturing, caring woman I know and we have always had a wonderful relationship.

However, one morning when I was about 8 or so, I, for no good reason, did not want to go to school.... I started with the whole "I don't feel good" routine, and Mom wasn't buying it. I finally gave that up and just started crying. Crying hard. Mom tried to calm me down and get me out the front door, but I wouldn't do either. Afterall, she had to go to work, and there was NO reason I shouldn't be at school. I was sobbing so much, though, that I upset my stomach and told my mom I felt like I was going to throw up. She was at her wit's end, and exclaimed "If you're so sick, then go throw up outside!!!" And pushed me towards the door. And so I went. I got sick on our front porch, for all the neighbors to see. She was, and is, still completely humiliated by the incident, and apoligizes to me to this day... It's hard convincing her that I know I was being a brat, and that she shouldn't feel guilty at all!

Posted by: May | May 12, 2006 12:44 PM

My mom recently told me a "fun" story. Apparently, when I was a few months old my mother was sterilizing rubber nipples for my bottle in a pot of hot water. While she was waiting for them to be done, or the water to boil or whatever, she stepped outside to speak to a neighbor. I was asleep in the house. Well, after a while she figured she should go get the nipples off the stove - but when she went back in the door, the house was filled with black smoke! The water had evaporated away and the rubber nipples had started to melt on the stove. Needless to say, 27 years later my mother is still feeling guilty that she "almost killed" me (her words, not mine).

I was - and am - perfectly fine, by the way. =)

Posted by: DLM | May 12, 2006 12:51 PM

I agree with the other Ford Expedition bashers - if you're driving one of these things in the city, you're not "in" traffic, you ARE the traffic. DC is well planned and laid-out, and I still see people blocking two lanes of traffic while trying to manuver one of those tug boats. I can't imagine the jams they must start up in places like Boston.

That said, however, sometimes kids need to be disciplined. "Better seen and not heard" is an ancient adage that has definitely stood the test of time. I'll never forget the time my brother and I had piped down in the back seat long enough for my father to dodge a drunk driver; kids need to learn that even a moment's distraction to the driver can be fatal.

Posted by: Greedo | May 12, 2006 12:57 PM


Thanks for sharing your story about your first husband. People shouldn't be embarrassed to leave an abusive relationship or talk about it.

I was also joking about borrowing your nanny, mainly because it's no ones business if you have one and if you did have one so what! Everyone needs help.

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 12:58 PM

She's not a nanny, she's a childcare craftswoman :)

Posted by: dinkydog | May 12, 2006 1:03 PM

How timely, my 10-year-old daughter and I were discussing this issue just this of my funnier terrible mom moments.

My daughter was in pre-school, and the school was sponsoring an end-of-the-year bike-a-thon. She had just turned five and would be entering kindergarten in the fall, so this was her last big event in pre-school. I could not fit her bike in my small car, so I took her tricycle. I did not realize how big she had grown, so when she took her tricycle out on the patio to begin laps, it was clear that she was WAY too big for the thing; her knees nearly hit the handlebars. As she pedaled her little heart out, she was eye-level to her friend's bike tire. I felt SO bad! She reminded me of this incident this morning. We both got a good laugh...

Posted by: single western mom | May 12, 2006 1:03 PM

By the way - what I feel most guilty about is buying my sister parenting books when I, myself, was not yet a mother. I thought I knew everything about parenting because I had read those books. How naive!!! When I had my own children, my sister kindly gave me those same books (and yes, they were read), with the most politely said remark, "I think you may need these now." :) Lesson learned. Parenting is a skill, maybe an art form, learned through experience, not purely from books. And, knowing what works with one child may or may not help you with another.

Knowing that I do the best I can possibly do everyday and knowing that I've been blessed with a wonderful husband and wonderful children who love me is my Mother's Day gift, and I've told my family to please not spend a dime on me, but spend the day with me.

When my second child was less than a year old, my husband got cancer for the second time. I realize how precious life is and how easily my children could have been robbed of a loving father and I could have been robbed of a loving life-partner. Appreciate what you have and do the best with what you have. Don't regret what you simply cannot do! As long as you do your best, your family will love you for it.

Posted by: 2 for me | May 12, 2006 1:07 PM

I want to share my sister's story, which would be my mom's worst and best moment as a mother.

We grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio. My father was a coal miner and my mother a SAHM. There is 13 years between me and my sister. When she was 16, my mother found her passed out on the front porch with alcohol poisoning. She was left there by some friends. It was winter in Ohio and she is lucky my mom let the cat out to pee or she probably would have frozen to death.

She was grounded for six months, not allowed to go anywhere but school and home.
A few months after this my cousin Terry came and got my mom and told her that my sister with the same group of friends was driving around high, drunk, and was hanging out the window. My dad went to look for her, but before he found her, she came home. She walked in the door and said "where is my dad." My mom said "your dad's not here now honey." My mother grabbed her by her 70s swinging hair and proceeded to beat her, then proceeded as she says "dance on her body." My dad came home, saw what was going on and walked right back out the door. My mom says I hid behind the curtains in the living room, But I can't remember. My brother's laughed, and then they got cracked too for making fun.

After that my sister was grounded again for a whole year. However, the other three girls in that car didn't have a mother to "dance on their body" and they became drug addicts, were in and out of jail, and had all kinds of other problems.

My mom doesn't regret it today and my sister thanks her for keeping her safe and making sure she didn't turn out bad

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 1:10 PM

I think Leslie deserves a lot of respect both for leaving an abusive relationship, which is not easy, and for speaking about it so openly. In doing so, maybe her story can inspire another battered woman to do the same thing.

I love the stories I'm reading here, this is a truly great way to start the weekend. The story about "the time you lied to me" really tickled me. I hope that people will continue to share the stories and ignore posts by those who are attempting to judge either our children or ourselves based on what they read here.

Finally, my child will always be heard as well as seen, and I think that's a good thing. As much as it drives me crazy sometimes when he tests my boundaries (and based on 2 for me's information he must feel veeeery secure, as he does it all the time), I would never want to try make him obedient or docile. It is the people who are not afraid to test the world around them who make the greatest changes. Where would civil rights, feminism or any other social movement be if the people who led them had instead been taught to always be quiet and accept authority? Of course there has to be balance, and there are times when I expect my son to take my "no" at face value (and he usually does when I get a certain tone); but on the whole, I'm glad he's an independent thinker and hope I can always encourage that.

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 1:12 PM

When my daughter was under the age of three, I put her down for a nap. Instead of napping she ended up playing and I came in to yell, only to realize that she had been helping me by making the bed. I hated the look of fear in her eyes. Unfortunately, I still yell! I am working on it, and I blow up less often.
Happy Mother's Day!!

Posted by: Leah | May 12, 2006 1:13 PM

I would hazard a guess that anyone taking the time to read this blog is a good mom, because she is interested/cares enough about parenting to be reading about it! That said, I wish we could talk less about the silly little mistakes we all make, and more about ways in which to make parenting easier in this country. How about affordable, quality day care options for all(and honestly, the judgemental asides about peoples' choices in this regard drive me crazy--my husband and I both work and fall into the category of making enough to choose better daycare, but not making enough that that choice doesn't hurt--a lot--financially. And we are the lucky ones!) How about realistic expectations from our employers on work-life balance? I'm sure there are many other external forces that we all face daily that affect the quality of our parenting. So let's make a pact to talk about that more, rather than focusing on the unintentional parenting mistakes of our friends, neighbors, and family members.

Posted by: chicago | May 12, 2006 1:16 PM

My mother used to say, "every mother understands child abuse." She was NOT suggesting that we allow it, or condone it-- only she was saying that every mother knows how very vexing and challenging parenting can be, and how emotional. Of course, it is our job to try to overcome that.

Before I had kids I was horrified by my mother's statement, but now, well, I understand.

Posted by: Ms L | May 12, 2006 1:22 PM

Reading these stories has made me laugh and cry! Sheesh, I wish moms and dads talked about these things more!!

Caring for a child is hard, hard work, and I guess there will always be low moments. And yet they are so "shameful" that it's tough to share them. We all want to look like good parents!! But I think we'd beat ourselves up a lot less for our mistakes if we knew that other (good!!) parents make them, too. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 1:27 PM

It had been a really bad day at work, and I was tired. My husband was away. I picked up my son from daycare and could not even muster the energy to make dinner and give him a bath. We got home, put on our jammies, and ate ice cream and cheerios in my king sized bed while he watched cartoons. We did not even brush our teeth before we fell asleep.

Posted by: bad mothering | May 12, 2006 1:31 PM

My story isn't one of something that I did wrong as such even though I have had my share of those moments!

I am the kind of person that cherishes b-days. I am not shy about saying when mine is or how old I am.

My son was born on my b-day 10 years ago. After he was about 18 months old, I was complaining to my husband (after the kids were in bed) that I would never have another b-day again - it would always be HIS day. Yes, I was being selfish! The very next day, I was walking home from the park with my kids when my 4 year old daughter looked up at me and said the most profound thing totally out of the blue. She said that I got the most special b-day gift ever because I got a present from God! Out of the mouths of babes! After that, I have never whined again about sharing my special day. Now it is our special day and we always make it special for each other! But he better never forget his mother's b-day! ;-)

Posted by: b-day girl | May 12, 2006 1:31 PM

Bad Mothering, that sounds like a great night to me! If he was old enough, I'm sure he'll remember it fondly.

One of my favorite memories from when I was little is when my mother, brother and I ditched an obligatory formal dinner associated with my dad's job, and instead snuck McDonald's food into a movie theater and watched ET. I'm sure my dad was furious, but we had such a good time, and knowing it was "bad" made it even more fun.

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 1:37 PM

My husband and I both have tempers that we've done both done a LOT to tone down since we've had kids. We still yell at them, occasionally, like a lot of people have indicated that they do. I worry, though, that our tempers affect them in other ways. Example: The other day at Jiffy Lube, while waiting for an oil change, my 3-year-old son asked for some candy from a gumball-type machine. I would have gotten him some--he asked politely, and I didn't mind him having a snack at that point during the day--but I didn't have a quarter, which was what the machine required. I explained that to him, and his solution was to yell, "Aw, COME ON!" and wack the side of the machine with his hand--a reaction he's probably seen me have when something isn't working. I think he thought I was telling him that the machine was broken. But I think the worst thing my husband and I both do as parents is lose our tempers about other things in front of them. We don't hit or spank THEM, or each other, EVER, so it's not like this is dangerous in terms of anyone's physical safety. But I do worry about the effect it has, witness the gumball machine incident.

My own mom accidentally sprayed me with gasoline at a gas station once when I was probably about 5 or so. Fortunately, it was a rainy day and I had a raincoat on. I'm not sure why I was out of the car, though. And I'm sure I didn't have a car/booster seat because it was the mid-70s. :)

Daria, I'm so sorry for your loss. My gumball-machine beater has a chronic illness, which he inherited from me, and I know how mentally and emotionally exhausting advocating constantly for your child's health care is. My son is prone to recurrent and severe infections without treatment, and I've had doctors tell me that he was too sick to get the treatment--a simple infusion--the other option being that he would probably die from a simple infection!

And Herndon, I hope that this time next year, you're holding a beautiful baby in your arms!

Posted by: niner | May 12, 2006 1:40 PM

Reading all of these helps me to see that I'm not alone in having "bad mom" moments! My worst one was when my son was 5 months old and my daughter was 2 and a half...I was trying to potty train her. We went to a park and I brought the potty with me so we could use it if the need arose. Well of course I thought a need was arising and asked her a couple of times to sit on the potty, but she would not, and pretty soon..yes, the smell told me it was too late. I had to take her by the hand, carrying the potty in its trash bag, my purse, and her little brother under my arm, to the park restroom. I had to sit him on the gross dirty floor of the restroom while I took her into the toilet cubicle. The poop fell out as I removed her clothes and went splat on the nubbly concrete floor. There I was trying to clean the poop off the bathroom floor while she shrieked and wiggled and my son engaged himself on the filthy floor. Once it was all cleaned up I yelled at my daughter, scaring her quite a bit, and gave her a pop on the behind. Both kids are now pleasant teenagers and I don't know one thing about their bowel habits!

Posted by: seattlemom | May 12, 2006 1:52 PM

I LOVE the stories from the grown kids -- they remind me that there's a good chance I'll be able to look back and laugh at all the things I've screwed up with my kids. So here are two from my own childhood:

(1) My mother accidentally slammed my hand in the car door when I was 5. She was mad at me for not paying attention and horrified at herself for doing it. Rushed to the emergency room, all was fine.

(2) When I was 9, my dad and I were playing catch; I turned and started talking to a friend, and he beaned me right on the ear with a fastball. It hurt unbelievably (WAY more than the car door), but I got no sympathy at all. Instead, I got a lecture that the first rule of baseball is always know where the ball is. Again, all was fine after some ice -- but you better believe I never forgot that rule again.

Actually, I imagine my mom would say that her biggest mistake was sometimes opening and closing her car door when the car was moving (she had a car with doors that frequently wouldn't latch properly). When I was about 4 and not quite up on the laws of physics, I tried the same thing. If it hadn't been for my seat belt, I'd have been sucked right out the door. I got a huge lecture, and she got a most useful lesson in the effectiveness of "do as I say, not as I do" (which, I should say, she truly abided by for the rest of my childhood).

I'm with New Granny: things have changed so much in the past 30-40 years. Sometimes I'm amazed that so many of us made it through, relatively unscathed!

Posted by: Laura | May 12, 2006 1:54 PM

What a wonderful post today! I truly, truly appreciating reading everyone's comments. How much we all love our children, yet we are all soo human!!

I've read about and can relate with those of you who lost your temper with your children while trying to drive, get them to bed, get them to eat, get ready for school, etc. It seems my worst moments with my kids are when I am on the phone. My children have this radar that detects I am having a conversation on the phone and, no matter where they are or what they are doing, they appear out of nowhere and need me right away. Now usually I respond with a nice "not now, honey, I'm on the phone." But after the 10th interruption I'm not quite as civil. Afterward I feel so bad because all they want is to talk to me and I am gabbing on the phone.

Apparently this trait has been handed down. My mother told me once about a time my sister and I were driving her crazy while she was trying to talk on the phone. She got so mad she took off her Dr. Scholl's shoe and slammed it against the wall to shut us up. It put a hole in the wall! I always try to think of that when my kids interrupt me on the phone and I am getting mad. Because it makes me laugh!

Posted by: FS Mom | May 12, 2006 1:57 PM

Thought of something else: about three weeks ago, I was loading the two kids into the minivan (and I don't live in DC, so I don't need a lecture about how I'm causing the traffic problem, never mind that the city was designed and laid out in the late 1700s). We got about a block to daycare, and my 3-year-old yelled, "Mommy, I'm not buckled in!" He'd just gotten to the point where he could climb up into his carseat himself, so I'd just forgotten, after securing his baby sister, to go around and buckle him in. I told him to always tell me if I forgot, and he said, "It's okay, Mommy, it was an accident." Hasn't happened since, fortunately.

Posted by: niner | May 12, 2006 2:03 PM

Geez seattlemom, I'm trying to eat lunch here!

Posted by: tron | May 12, 2006 2:04 PM

My favorite mom story is that when I was little, I always wanted my mom to french-braid my hair. She wasn't very good at it, and it always took forever, and she always pulled my hair harder than I thought necessary--but I wanted those braids. One day I was sitting on the toilet seat lid while she was braiding my hair and I felt faint. I said, "Mom, I don't feel good," and she told me not to be a baby, and that I was the one who wanted my hair braided. Well, I fainted, but I didn't fall over and she didn't notice because she was pulling my hair so tightly! She felt awful, but I think it's a funny story! For the record, my mom was awesome and I love her tons, but we had our moments!

Posted by: Katya | May 12, 2006 2:07 PM

3 kids in a Subaru - did you read the part in Leslie's post about not judging people and just sticking to the topic? Let's not start the SUVs vs Hybrids argument when we're still trying to quit tearing each other apart over working vs staying home.

Posted by: Get over yourself | May 12, 2006 2:11 PM

you are whats wrong with our country.

self important suburbanites with huge SUV's and unable to discipline their children.

this is why your kids will develop drug problems, hate you, and put you in a home as soon as you can.

Posted by: me | May 12, 2006 2:13 PM

I have 2 adopted children, and I love them dearly and truly feel they are gifts, and yet sometimes I just get overwhelmed, and just cannot keep the right perspective, and my mouth gets me into trouble: For example: My son (5) is extremely active, demands a lot of attention, and he just cannot settle down right away when he needs to. We were in a restaurant and I had reached one of those moments and I called him a "Little S---". He turned right around told me matter of factly: "I am not a Little S---". I felt extremely small, but also very happy that he could and would speak his mind when it needed to be done.

Posted by: mavsam | May 12, 2006 2:14 PM

So... would you be the mom in the oversized SUV who was so busy yelling at your kids that you almost pasted me and my motorcycle to the road this morning, when you California-stopped at a red light, then made a right turn, rather than STOPPING first?

I assure you, your worst mom moment was probably something you didn't even notice. I think "nearly killing someone with the kids in the back" is up there on the list...

Posted by: Near Splat | May 12, 2006 2:22 PM

Ok, so this is anonymous, but my worst mom's moment...

I once lost my 2-year-old in a hotel. She always stuck right by me, but this time we were getting off the elevator and she ran back on to push the buttons. When I turned around the door was closing and I didn't have time to stick my foot in the door. I pushed on the up and down buttons but the elevator just kept moving. I was 8 months pregnant and RACING up and down the stairs to try to find her! I had to wake up my husband and tell him I'd lost our daughter. He ran around searching for her while I stood guard by the lobby elevator, watching the exits in the unlikely scenario that someone would take her. We found her about 5 minutes later-- a nice man had calmed her down and brought her to the lobby. She was only 26 months old at the time but she still remembers it and brings it up occasionally.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 2:27 PM

when i was 20 and a junior in college, i got pregnant and had twin boys. On a Greyhound bus trip to see my mom when they were four months old - yeah, I must have been insane - I had one in a carseat and one in my lap as we rode from IN to GA. A nice older lady asked me if I wanted her to hold my baby so that I could get some sleep; but I just thanked her nicely and said no.

I ended up dozing off and waking up to a thud - my poor sweet baby lying on the floor of the bus. The nice grandmotherly lady picked him up, looked at me and said "he's alright" - i immediately burst into tears. She said, "Are you sure you don't want me to hold him?" I took her up on the offer....of course,I was too doggone shook up (and nervous that she'd take off with him ) to sleep......

He and his brother are almost 16 now, and there was no damage. I still tell that story and they crack up!!!!

Posted by: twinmom | May 12, 2006 2:38 PM

In Response To "Me" --
That's just plain mean. To tell someone they "are what's wrong with this country ..." and "this is why your kids will develop drug problems, hate you, and put you in a home as soon as you (sic) can" is not nice at all. Most mothers do the absolute best they can with what they know and learn by experience -- including yours, I'd like to believe. Some of us do some things better than others, but we love our children and no one wants their child to develop drug problems, hate them or put them in a home as soon as they can. Don't be venomous toward others. It's just not nice at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 2:39 PM

Me is a stupidhead. Bad me, bad!

Posted by: twink | May 12, 2006 2:49 PM

So, I assume from your sanctimonious posts, me and near splat, that you are perfect drivers, parents and citizens? That you have never eaten, spoken on a cell phone, turned to look at your passenger, changed a CD or tape, fiddled with the controls on the heater, or been distracted by a road sign or accident or other happening on the side of the road? That every major purchase is made with the greater good in mind? That if you have kids, you have never yelled at them or been distracted by them?

I'm no fan of SUVs and distracted drivers, but as the other poster said, we are all doing the best we can, nobody is infallible, and there is no need to attack Leslie in such a mean-spirited way.

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 2:53 PM

My worse moment was when I used to smoke in front of my son. He grabbed the cigarette and he burned his lip! I felt so bad!

Posted by: Michelle | May 12, 2006 3:07 PM

My mother always tells me the advice that she receive from her father before having my sister, her first child. She was close to deliver and worried about whether she would be a good parent to her children. His response: "Don't worry, dear. Whatever you do will be wrong."

At least I don't have to worry about WHETHER I'm screwing up my kids.

They say your kids will pay you back for the trouble you caused your parents. I hope, for his sake, my son stays alive while paying me back.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 12, 2006 3:44 PM

When I was a few months old, my mom put me in my cradle/basinnet on the back porch of our house in Iowa because she said I liked being outside. After a while I fell asleep and Mom went inside to do chores while keeping an eye on me. Before long, she got caught up in her housework and forgot about me. When she returned to the back porch, there was a hawk standing on the deck table looking at me. To this day, my Mom is convinced that I was minutes away from being a meal.

Posted by: Alan | May 12, 2006 3:45 PM

Shut up already with the SUV blasting i'm sure you do something that is harmful to the environment too and as far as motorcycles go, I've seen them ride between cars and pass with little room, so I'm sure you are not a perfect driver either!

"you are whats wrong with our country.
self important suburbanites with huge SUV's and unable to discipline their children.

this is why your kids will develop drug problems, hate you, and put you in a home as soon as you can."

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 3:47 PM

sorry Megan it's so hard to be nice to people when they say mean things!

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 3:49 PM

"My mother always tells me the advice that she receive from her father before having my sister, her first child. She was close to deliver and worried about whether she would be a good parent to her children. His response: "Don't worry, dear. Whatever you do will be wrong.""

This is far and away the best child-rearing advice I have ever heard. Once I figured that out (somewhere between no. 1 and no. 2), life got a lot easier. Now my husband and I joke, wondering what our kids will be seeing a therapist for 20-30 years from now.

Posted by: Laura | May 12, 2006 3:51 PM


This was a great idea for Friday. It helps to know I am not the only one who has lost my temper or had moments questioning my ability to be a good mother.

How about going the opposite direction next Friday and ask readers to provide an example of one of our proudest moments when we did something REALLY right for our kid(s).

Posted by: Isabelle | May 12, 2006 3:55 PM

My worst mom moment - and stupidest - came in the middle of one of my son's worst moments. After picking him up from the police station for shoplifting, I was so angry that I slapped him - in the parking lot of the police station in full sight of the front desk sargeant. Except I missed him thereby narrowly escaping being arrested. He was 16 and towered over me by a good 6 inches. As a teenager he was hell. He is now grown, married, graduated from college, employed in a great job and a father. There is hope for all situations.

The cliche of "they grow up so fast" is SO true. And it's hard to believe in the middle of coloring on the walls, washing the cat, defiant behavior, new Prom dresses, interminable swim meets (you know the ones - sit for 8 hours to watch your kid swim for 20 seconds), and choosing junior high electives.

Hugs to all moms. It's a hard job.

Posted by: Granny | May 12, 2006 3:55 PM

My husband & I joke about the therapist thing too. We tell the kids (3 of them, 19,18 & 15) that we need to give them something to talk to their therapists about. My worst moment was the time I left the sleeping younger ones(4 & 1, at the time) in the running, air conditioned car while I unloaded some boxes. The older one woke up and she decided to drive. She ended up backing the car out of the driveway, knocking over the mailbox and bush in the process. Luckily, noone was parked across the street and the curb stopped them. I never left them in the car again. Unfortunately, my daughter, now 18, isn't any better at backing out of the driveway now than when she was 4!

Posted by: Sue | May 12, 2006 4:01 PM

It still haunts me to this day. Not certain if it bothers my son to this day. However, his elementary basketball team was playing in a championship game. The other team seemed unbeatable to say the least. They won every game, every year!!! My son went to the foul line several times during this game. I was soooo loud, when I should have been soooo quiet so he could concentrate. He even SHUUU'd me! He made several and missed a few. Had I been quiet those few would have won the game for his team. Bad mom, always TALKING!!!!....

Posted by: Perry | May 12, 2006 4:03 PM

I don't have children, but I know that when I look back and think of the "terrible" things my parents did compared to what they think they did that there is a huge difference between the two. For me, the worst thing that my mother ever did was driving into the garage and running over my cat, despite the fact that I was in the backseat pleading with her to stop and let me actually move the cat, as she wasn't going to move (she was kinda a dumb cat). To this day I still get really angry over that, because my mom just dismissed me in that occasion. However, my mother feels that the worst thing she ever did raising me was not being a big enough voice for me to my father when he would get unreasonable.

Basically, for all you parents who are worred that you are harming your kids by your actions, the things that you think are horrible are not even going to be blips on your kids radars 10 years down the road. Just love us and everything will work out in the end.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 4:05 PM

Go the F to sleep. Shut the F up. And at such an early age? I was wondering why 60% of the words spoken in our high school's hallways are "F!"
And we teachers are supposed to stop that behavior?

Well, I have too many worst moments to list with my temperamental son, but I feel most guilty about my angelic daughter's forehead. Because our cheap rented RV's door didn't lock, my 3-year-old fell out and landed on her noggin when we were parked at Disneyworld. She got a massive goose egg. When she was 5, her girlfriend pulled her to the top of our street, a large hill, in a wagon. Then she let her go. My daughter hit a concrete culvert at about 15 miles an hour. She lived; she didn't even have a concussion, but every time she does something a little dumb, I blame that accident, and myself for being inside the house and not watching her.


Posted by: Margaret O | May 12, 2006 4:06 PM

While a little nasty for a Friday, Near Splat brings up a fear I've had for a while now. I have a spotless driving record and I do not talk on the cell phone, eat, or put on makeup in my car. However, my kids have on occasion driven me (sorry for the pun) to distraction. Although I don't know of any near misses I've ever had, I am concerned that one day something will happen, especially in this region where traffic is so bad and aggressive driving is rampant. Unfortunately, keeping my children under house arrest is simply not practical, so my SUV and I persevere on.

And, I've seen plenty of motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic, and moving alongside cars that cannot see them, and doing other risky things. So all I can say to Splat is be careful out there.

Finally, if anyone knows of a small, hybrid, safe vehicle that seats 7, let us all know...

Posted by: FS Mom | May 12, 2006 4:13 PM

To add to FS Mom's post... and can this vehicle be cheap, too, please? LOL

Loving these mom stories today.

Posted by: DLM | May 12, 2006 4:28 PM

Don't worry Scarry, I'm right there with ya!

The story about the child grabbing the cigarette reminded me that the other night my son (18 months) managed to just reach a beer can sitting near the edge of the table and tip it toward his mouth, with his mouth open and his tongue out to catch it! We occasionally let him have a sip of soda out of a can, and he's just been dying to get his hands on a beer can. Seeing my son go to such lengths for beer at such an early age definitely made me worry for his college years...Fortunately it seemed to all end up down his front and on the floor, so no drunken babies yet!

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 4:32 PM

My worst moment happened about two years after 911. My 6 year old was really traumatized by the whole thing, he had severe sleeping disorders for about 3 1/2 years. Both my husband and I work and he woke up every night, two or three times a night. We tried everything, sitting in his bed with him until he fell alsleep, he usually woke up the minute I would try and slide out of his bed... My husband never realy liked having the kids in our room and was resistant to it, that made it all the more stressful for me. The worst night, I was exhausted, had to get up the next a.m. before 5 and he could not sleep and pounded on our door. I dragged him screaming off to his room and plopped him on his floor and left. I will never forget the look on his little face and I will never ever let my own exhaustion reduce me to being so cruel. I feel horrible about it to this day. He still, at ten has a few bad nights but now I tell him he must go to bed in his room but if he wakes up and is frightened he can drag his sleeping bag into our room.

Posted by: SB | May 12, 2006 4:32 PM

Yeah, I meant to put "affordable" in there too. The new Mercades hybrid school bus (whatever it is called) is out of my range..

Posted by: FS Mom | May 12, 2006 4:39 PM

I used to beat my children bloody with a spiked paddle, but now I just give them swirlies. I am a kinder, gentler mom these days.

Posted by: usetod | May 12, 2006 4:44 PM

Just wanted to explain the SUV thing...when my older daughter was a few months old we were in a terrible car accident just a mile from our house. If she hadn't been securely clipped in her car seat she would have died just from the force of impact. Since that day I vowed I would (very carefully) drive a large car that kept the kids safe...part of my obligation as a parent. I do agree that if you are going to drive a big car/truck you have to drively slowly and extremely carefully. Reckless drivers -- no matter the size of their cars -- are a huge menance and I wish there was better enforcement so that driving kids in cars was not the #1 cause of accidental childhood fatalities. So, I know SUVs make a lot of people angry, but it's what I want to drive to keep my children safe while they are small and especially vulnerable.

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 12, 2006 5:13 PM

To All of Us Moms, remember this --
June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable, Donna Reed and Carol Brady had people who wrote, erased, re-wrote and did "900 takes" to make them appear to be the perfect moms who were always smiling, never wrinkled, never yelling, never smacking, and always having the perfect answer while violins played in the background. Those images left us believing we are really messing up. But when I think about all the joy and laughter my sons have given me over the years, as well as the tears and scary moments not to mention me overreacting, screaming and whacking them to get their attention, I wouldn't trade my life with their well-scripted ones for anything. My babies are the joy of my life and I tell them that all the time. This is a love that is so real and wonderful and ... there are just no real words to describe it ... Ladies, we are soooooooo blessed!! So very, very blessed!! I remember my oldest telling me when he was three that when he got some money he was going to give me a present. I said, "what?" He said, "I'm going to buy you some cigarettes!" He's now 22. I haven't smoked in 19 years. That was enough to make me quit. That child saved my life.

Posted by: gotta-say | May 12, 2006 5:22 PM

Shouldn't saying the "F" word to your kids be something that either NEVER happens or only happened once and you learned from this?

It makes me sad that people are alluding to this being a frequent slip up. Kids overhearing you is one thing, or even doing it once might be another, but to say this type of thing more than once just seems awful for a child to hear.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2006 5:33 PM

Another nameless poster wrote: "Shouldn't saying the "F" word to your kids be something that either NEVER happens or only happened once and you learned from this? ... to say this type of thing more than once just seems awful for a child to hear."

I don't know. My concern with my use of the f word is not so much the word itself, but the emotion that was behind it when I did say it. I don't think that any particular word makes an emotion better or worse, to me it's more important to know what is being communicated and why than the specific words a person uses. To me the use of swear words can come across as feeble compared to a more eloquently worded insult or remark.

Posted by: Megan | May 12, 2006 5:53 PM

gotta-say wrote: "June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable, Donna Reed and Carol Brady had people who wrote, erased, re-wrote and did "900 takes" to make them appear to be the perfect moms who were always smiling, never wrinkled, never yelling, never smacking, and always having the perfect answer while violins played in the background."

And then, thank goodness, along came Roseanne! :)

And Megan, my younger brother, probably aged 3 or 4 at the time, once surreptiously downed my mom's juice-based mixed drink while she had a discussion with my dad. We couldn't figure out why he got hyper and then fell asleep on the floor-until we noticed the empty glass, and my mom only remembered having had a few sips.

And Leslie, per Isabelle, next Friday let's do a BEST moment in mothering/parenting!

Posted by: niner | May 12, 2006 6:02 PM

Leslie, while I do not wish to criticize your choices, I would urge you to do a closer look in assuming that your Expedition is a safe car. It is actually quite dangerous-- less maneuverable and prone to rollover. We found this out when we did extensive research, with safety as the #1 priority. The safest cars by far are minivans, which are maneuverable and still fairly heavy.

Here's a good article that shows some of the research.

Posted by: Minivaner | May 12, 2006 7:18 PM

Minivaner -- you are absolutely right about rollovers. SUVs are clearly dangerous when driven over 60 mph and should not be turned sharply (even to change lanes). But what I found in my research is that most people are killed because of head injuries in car accidents, so it's a huge protection if you and passengers are high up enough that the collision hits below your head. Hence my decision to drive an SUV right now.

Oh, this is so morbid, gotta stop now! Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 12, 2006 7:49 PM


My nephew Branden grabbed the beer can and drank it when he was four, he is no worse for wear although I got in deep crap with my sister. (Yeah, the one my mom beat the hell out of).


I am right on your side about the SUVs. I wanted a safe car for my daughter; I did the research and bought one with side impact air bags (equinox). The only thing that complicated the issue is that where I am from, you as in me and everyone else from or who ever wants to drive a car back there, buys American. My father-in-law worked on the line at GM so we get a good discount. That said, as soon as GM or any other American car company makes an SUV, I'll buy it.

I'd really like to know if everyone who complains about SUVs recycles.

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 8:29 PM

My worst incident as a mother was a couple of months ago. I was 7 months pregnant, visiting my mother and extremely sleep deprived and stressed. I'd been trying for hours to get my 2.5 year old son to sleep in his bed on the floor next to mine. He was stressed too, and ran to climb in with me. I said something like "just go to sleep!" and put out my hand. He ran into it, fell down and started to cry. Then he looked at me and said "you don't have to make me cry mommy". The look on his face crushed my heart.

I apologized profusely and there was no harm done, but I'll never forget it. It also encouraged me to do more research on interacting with toddlers, which has paid off a lot. (Parenting books can help sometimes...)

Posted by: soon to be mother of 2 | May 12, 2006 8:33 PM

One last thing about swearing. My father used to say the most horrendous swear words that I can't repeat in this blog. (not to any of us children, well maybe my brother) All of my siblings my nephews and nieces are all fine.

Sometimes I would visit some of my friends and their house was so quite and proper that I couldn't stand it. I was always glad to go home and be around my loud, overbearing, swearing Irish family. It makes me happy to this day to hear my dad swear at Fox news.

Happy Mother's Day

Posted by: scarry | May 12, 2006 8:36 PM

I've probably had quite a few "worst mom" moments. I think we can all relate to what Leslie's writing about -- whose kids have not fought in the car? Not to mention the fights in public, so perhaps kids fighting in the car isn't so bad after all.

I do recall one episode on a return trip from a seemingly lovely trip to Pittsburgh for the weekend to see the science museum, the paleontology exhibits, etc.. My two oldest sons, then in sixth and fourth grades, were fighting bitterly in the back seat. Our kindergarten son was listening to all sorts of verbal assaults back and forth (he was sitting between the two older brothers). Finally, it appeared to be getting somewhat physical. My husband pulled into a gas station and told them both to get out of the car because he could no longer drive safely.

They complied. My husband and I remained in the car with our five-year-old, almost 200 miles from home. My husband said, "Maybe we should leave them here." Five-year-old offers, "Someone will adopt them, like Dudley." (Dudley was our cat, whom we adopted when his owner abandoned him in our neighborhood.) I told my husband and my kindergartener that the older brothers wouldn't be that lucky. Once we told them it was all right to get back in the car, they were civil for the remainder of the ride home.

Sometimes only a sense of humor keeps one's sanity in raising kids. BTW, these two fighting brothers, now almost 19 and 17, began getting along quite well about two years later, and have even collaborated a moderate amount on schoolwork and athletics over the years. But at the time, their fights were a source of great frustration.

Thanks to everyone for sharing insights and moments of weakness.

Posted by: suzyswim | May 12, 2006 9:34 PM

I've got one of those drill sargent voices, deep, husky and I use it very sparingly which makes it

much more effective when I need it. At level 6, I can rattle the filaments in the light bulbs, and

anything above an 8.5 is used only for emergencies, like the time I went out to the shed and left

the electric saw plugged in on the deck. Of course, at that time, I heard the sliding glass door

open as my two year old went strait for the saw. I blasted him with his name and melted him right

there on the spot. He cried in shame and I felt bad, but not really, he still has all 10 fingers.
This reminds me of a story of his older brother, who is a very annoying, challanging child. It

was the day before I was to meet his preschool teacher. The evening before, I was teaching him

how to water the vegetable garden with the hose. I show him how to adjust the nozzle to the soft

spray and be gentle on the plants. So there I was, enjoying a nice cold one, kicking back in the

lawn chair, listening to the birds chirp insects play their love songs, and the distant hum of a lawn

mower as my son watered the plants. He likes squirting the hose, I think it's a guy thing.What

What a great Dad, I thought to myself as I sipped my beer. Then it came, full blast, point blank,

my very irratating son had turned the hose on me, right in my face. My kneejerk reaction caused

the lawn chair to collapse, and I spilled the beer on myself. I immediately stood up and yelled at

the top of my lungs, "YOU BLITHERING IDIOT!" Instantly, the hose turned off, the birds went quiet,

the distant lawn mower stopped, even the insects stopped. The entire neighborhood went

completely quiet. After a 2 second pause, the silence was broken by the sound of my own

harrowing voice, returned to me in an echo, "You blithering idiot." The beer still fizzed over the top

of my can. As I heard the echo, my anger had rebounded in the feeling of shame and sorrow. My

son was very forgiving. He asked me very quietly, "Dad, are you an "bithing" idiot too?" I

answered him in a subdued tone of voice, "Yes, I guess I'm a blithering idiot too."
The next morning my son was very excited to have me meet his teacher, which caused him to

jump around a bit. When we got to his classroom, I introduced myself and my son to his teacher.

We noticed that my son had something very important to say as he got more and more excited. It

went like this:
"Ms King, Ms King", hop, hop. "Ms King, Ms King", hop, hop. "My Dad..", hop, hop. "My dad and

me..", hop, hop. "We are.." Hop, hop. "Bithing idiots!" Jum. Jump. He circled around us as he

jumped on both feet. "Dad" Jump. "and" Jump. "me" Jump. "are" jump. "Bithing" Jump. "Idiots!"

He landed right next to me and kissed my hand.
"Bithing?", Ms King asked.
"Blithering", I admitted.
Ms King just chuckled and said, "Well, you two certainly look alike."
I deserved that one.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 13, 2006 9:28 AM

I've got one of those drill sargent voices, deep, husky and I use it very sparingly which makes it

much more effective when I need it. At level 6, I can rattle the filaments in the light bulbs, and

anything above an 8.5 is used only for emergencies, like the time I went out to the shed and left

the electric saw plugged in on the deck. Of course, at that time, I heard the sliding glass door

open as my two year old went strait for the saw. I blasted him with his name and melted him right

there on the spot. He cried in shame and I felt bad, but not really, he still has all 10 fingers.
This reminds me of a story of his older brother, who is a very annoying, challanging child. It

was the day before I was to meet his preschool teacher. The evening before, I was teaching him

how to water the vegetable garden with the hose. I show him how to adjust the nozzle to the soft

spray and be gentle on the plants. So there I was, enjoying a nice cold one, kicking back in the

lawn chair, listening to the birds chirp insects play their love songs, and the distant hum of a lawn

mower as my son watered the plants. He likes squirting the hose, I think it's a guy thing.What

What a great Dad, I thought to myself as I sipped my beer. Then it came, full blast, point blank,

my very irratating son had turned the hose on me, right in my face. My kneejerk reaction caused

the lawn chair to collapse, and I spilled the beer on myself. I immediately stood up and yelled at

the top of my lungs, "YOU BLITHERING IDIOT!" Instantly, the hose turned off, the birds went quiet,

the distant lawn mower stopped, even the insects stopped. The entire neighborhood went

completely quiet. After a 2 second pause, the silence was broken by the sound of my own

harrowing voice, returned to me in an echo, "You blithering idiot." The beer still fizzed over the top

of my can. As I heard the echo, my anger had rebounded in the feeling of shame and sorrow. My

son was very forgiving. He asked me very quietly, "Dad, are you an "bithing" idiot too?" I

answered him in a subdued tone of voice, "Yes, I guess I'm a blithering idiot too."
The next morning my son was very excited to have me meet his teacher, which caused him to

jump around a bit. When we got to his classroom, I introduced myself and my son to his teacher.

We noticed that my son had something very important to say as he got more and more excited. It

went like this:
"Ms King, Ms King", hop, hop. "Ms King, Ms King", hop, hop. "My Dad..", hop, hop. "My dad and

me..", hop, hop. "We are.." Hop, hop. "Bithing idiots!" Jum. Jump. He circled around us as he

jumped on both feet. "Dad" Jump. "and" Jump. "me" Jump. "are" jump. "Bithing" Jump. "Idiots!"

He landed right next to me and kissed my hand.
"Bithing?", Ms King asked.
"Blithering", I admitted.
Ms King just chuckled and said, "Well, you two certainly look alike."
I deserved that one.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 13, 2006 9:39 AM

Dad, Even though you wrote your silly story twice, I think you are more of a dork than a blithering idiot. Us kids love you anyway. Have you thought of what we are going to do for mom on mother's day. She told me she wants you to take us out for breakfast and dinner. You also forgot to shut the computor down when you were done with it. Hahaha I'll bet you wont make that mistake again.

Posted by: Daughter of Father of 4 | May 13, 2006 10:25 AM

My worst mother moment was when I lost my four year old in Disney World. We were there with my brother, sister, and their families for a total of about 8 adults and 10 kids. We stopped for a family picture in front of the tree in Animal Kingdom. After we were done, we proceeded to the next ride. About five minutes later, I noticed my four year old wasn't with us. We instantly started a search for her and ended up finding her at the "lost children" station.
Apparently, we all left and she was looking at the tree. When she realized we were gone, she went to the man that took our picture and told him that she "lost her family." He then took her to the station - they gave her a pin for her bravery. Still now, three years later, she talks about when we lost her in Disney World and has even written about it in her school work. I feel horrible....

Posted by: Still Ashamed | May 13, 2006 5:31 PM

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I wanted to mention that minivans also elevate you above regular car heights, for head-on collisions.

From Gladwell's article I referenced earlier, here are the deaths per million miles:
Minivan (Town and Country): 31 driver deaths, 67 total
SUV (Ford Expedition):55 driver deaths, 112 total.

Again, I don't want to criticize you. But I think through advertising we have been mislead to believe that SUVs are the safest vehicles around. That's just not the case.

Posted by: Minivaner | May 13, 2006 9:31 PM

Some people just don't want to be seen in a minni van.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2006 4:49 PM

Oh, who CARES what anyone drives? Seriously. Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2006 12:25 PM

I don't care what other people drive, and if they don't want to be seen in a minivan that's OK by me. But if they say that safety is #1 and that's why they bought an SUV, then they should be educated, because they are NOT safe.

Posted by: Minivaner | May 15, 2006 1:39 PM

OK, I've been trying to restrain myself, but Minivaner is right on, and people need to know that SUV's are NOT SAFER for the people riding in them, despite millions of dollars of advertising trying to make you think they are. A friend of mine has written about how they have become an "arms race" on the road, as people feel compelled to get bigger and bigger (and less sustainable) vehicles because they feel threatened by the big ones already on the road.

I am not at all saying that people who buy SUVs are bad or whatever, I'm just saying that it's something to take into consideration the next time you buy a car. I think more information is better when you're making such an important decision.

And yes, Scarry, we do recycle, but we are far from perfect, just like everyone else...

Posted by: Megan | May 15, 2006 2:57 PM

I still you contend you are whats wrong with america. Its not the point of safety, or even being socially conscious.

The american disease of excess and self importance. Why the hell do you need a car with 7 seats? Do you have 5 kids? Doubt it.

Oh sure, you may cart the soccer team around once in a while. But 90 percent of the time when you are shuffling yourself between whole foods, aveda, banana republic, and the miserable cubicle in which you seek refuge.

You don't seek safety, you seek the illusion of safety. Your kids aren't safer in an Expedition (neither are the people outside). When I was a child, I stubbed my toe. From that point on, I promised that no matter what, I would wear steel toed boots to pretect my precious feet. Thats pretty dumb huh?

Buy a station wagon. Practical, safe, and versatile. But oh wait, you wont be keeping up with the Jones.

The illusion of safety owes to your self importance.

The initial little blurb wasn't about being a bad parent, or making parenting mistakes. It was a whine. It was "I must reconcile my guilt for being a bad parent parent, by recognizing I am a bad parent. Take pity on me, i do the best I can." The post wasnt about your kids; your anger wasnt about your kids. This is all about you.

The culture of "Me." Thats whats wrong with america. And you are a fabulous example.

Posted by: me | May 15, 2006 3:44 PM


Can you post a link to the SUVs-are-not-safer study? I am aware of articles that reference crash test ratings, but I have not seen anything that definitley states SUVs are worse than any other car if driven properly. That last caveat is important. Anything can be a death trap if you drive improperly.

Posted by: Not yet a Mom | May 15, 2006 6:19 PM

"And yes, Scarry, we do recycle, but we are far from perfect, just like everyone else..."

hey Megan,

I was just trying to point out that no one is perfect too and just becasue I drive an SUV, a very, small SUV really no bigger than a car with the same gas mileage, that I still care about the environment and other people too.

Posted by: scarry | May 15, 2006 6:40 PM

Not Yet a Mom,

It's been a while since I've looked into this, but the article posted by Minivaner looks like a pretty good one (though long), check out the chart in the middle for some summary statistics.

Also, I completely agree with you that the driver matters much more than the car. This is another thing that irritates me about the advertising for SUVs - the imagery implies that if you drive an SUV, you can automatically handle any weather. Not true. SUVs can go off the road in the snow just as easily as any other car if the driver isn't careful. We drive a Toyota Echo and a Scion XB. Both have great safety ratings, and I have driven both in every type of weather between Connecticut and Colorado and never had a problem. And, although we only have one child, my husband plays upright bass. In the Scion we can fit two adults, a baby, an upright bass, an amp, a gig bag, and overnight bags for the three of us. Not bad...

Posted by: Megan | May 15, 2006 6:41 PM

From Malcolm Gladwell's article:

"The truth, underneath all the rationalizations, seemed to be that S.U.V. buyers thought of big, heavy vehicles as safe: they found comfort in being surrounded by so much rubber and steel. To the engineers, of course, that didn't make any sense, either: if consumers really wanted something that was big and heavy and comforting, they ought to buy minivans, since minivans, with their unit-body construction, do much better in accidents than S.U.V.s. (In a thirty-five m.p.h. crash test, for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade--the G.M. counterpart to the Lincoln Navigator--has a sixteen-per-cent chance of a life-threatening head injury, a twenty-per-cent chance of a life-threatening chest injury, and a thirty-five-per-cent chance of a leg injury. The same numbers in a Ford Windstar minivan--a vehicle engineered from the ground up, as opposed to simply being bolted onto a pickup-truck frame-- are, respectively, two per cent, four per cent, and one per cent. ) But this desire for safety wasn't a rational calculation. It was a feeling."

Posted by: Minivaner | May 15, 2006 9:36 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company