Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bad Mommy Scares Children

"This is a picture of me at a Halloween party with my daughter and her friend. This was shortly before I began to get the feeling that not everyone appreciated my elaborate face paint. First, it was the funny looks from the other moms, all of whom, without exception, were dressed as witches. Not scary witches. Generic witches with pointy black hats and black or purple dresses. Their looks askance didn't bother me too much. I thought, Maybe they're jealous because their costumes aren't as interesting. 

"It was when three-and-a-half year old Romeo saw me from across the room and collapsed in tears on the floor that I thought, Hmm. Maybe I've overdone it a bit. When little Charley Mae, not yet two years old, began to visibly shake from the safety of her mother's lap, and yell, summoning her limited vocabulary, "GO 'WAY! GO 'WAY!" I had to face facts. I had seriously misjudged the situation. I had gone too far. These mothers were looking at me, not with envy, but with justified concern. I was scaring the children."

That's an excerpt from an essay I wrote, The Other Mother, and posted on my blog, Advanced Studies in Inner Work, in 2009. I reposted it last Halloween, and am posting it again this year with some additional follow up thoughts. 

Now, if you've ever actually really scared a child, you know it doesn't feel good. For example, I have a friend who found himself outside his living room window one night after taking the trash out. He saw his young son inside, playing, completely unaware that he was being watched. In an impulsive moment, he thought it would be funny to press his face up against the window, thus distorting his features in a ghastly way, and knock. His child looked up, turned white as sheet and then broke down sobbing helplessly. It took more than a few minutes to restore the child's central nervous system to health. The horror! For the dad!  Right? 

It's difficult to explain what I think happened on the Halloween of my embarrassing miscalculation, but I do mark it as the moment Bad Mommy was born, and I wanted to share the memory and the essay itself as a way of saying 1. Happy Halloween! and 2. Have you ever scared the crap out of your child accidentally? Please share. Finally, 3. Do you have a costume idea that would pay some homage to your worst fears of what you could be if you were the worst mom ever? (Drunk, mean, scary?)