Friday, November 13, 2015

Also, kid, sorry, but you're going to have to pay for it yourself

There is a thing that happens sometimes, when moms are talking to each other--yes, Scott, it is a thing that happens in meatspace and not just a fake trend from the internet, and I know this because I have done it myself--where they will make a joking reference to their kids' future therapy as a sort of preemptive acknowledgement of their flaws.

Have you heard this sort of thing?

"Oh, my kid always wears his older brother's hand-me-down Halloween costume. Guess he'll have something to talk about in therapy, ha ha."

"Oh, yes, we never bought her a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, guess we should take the money we saved and put it aside for therapy, tee hee."

(Considering I am a mom I should know about some kind of modern trend to substitute for Tickle-Me-Elmo--side note, I never got one of those and that's okay because I found them vaguely terrifying--but I do not. Maybe I should complain about my lack of pop culture awareness in therapy.)

And I totally get why this is a thing. It's the same impulse as "My kid fell off the table and bust open his lip, please mail me my Mother Of The Year trophy." We're preemptively and a little sarcastically criticizing ourselves so that other people don't jump on our Facebook status or casual comment with, "ACTUALLY have you thought about not being such a sucky mom?"

(Pro tip: If you regularly feel compelled to begin sentences with the word "Actually," you are probably kind of pretentious. Maybe dial it down a bit.)

But it makes me wonder: Why is therapy a thing we invoke like the boogeyman of motherhood, where only the bad moms who suck at everything have kids who go to therapy, LOL? Is that really the standard I aspire to, to have kids who don't go to therapy?

Given my genes, sorry, current kid and future kids, you're probably doomed to some kind of chronic mood disorder. Sorry 'bout that chromosome. But even aside from that--if I have a kid who's totally neurotypical and totally healthy and still goes to therapy, I think I will have actually done a really good job as a mom.

Because you know what going to therapy means? Going to therapy means that you have the self-awareness to realize you're struggling. (And we all struggle, thought some more than others, like Animal Farm.) It means you have the humility and good sense to know when to call it and say, "Hey, this is more struggle than I can handle on my own." And if they talk about me in therapy, well, I already knew I'm human, and it seems better for them to talk that out with a therapist than to just let it fester, or to hide it from the world because they think we need to maintain a perfect shiny family image even in front of therapists so we can't ever say, "Yeah, my mom was awesome most of the time but a few times she wrote blog posts about how I'm too much work."

If I can't be the perfect mom, then I'll consider second best (and good enough) to be "mom who gives her kids the tools to deal with all the mistakes she made."