Take heart - Cranky moms produce great kids

Joyce Pemberton Columnist

I had a revelation this morning as I was standing at my kitchen washing the dishes. The sun was shining through the windows, and I was singing out loud to a song that was blasting loudly on my radio. And then it hit me.

I can sing out loud.

And that’s not all. I can watch any TV show, lay in bed late or linger in a hot bath until the water turns cold. Heck, I can eat a cold pickle for dinner. My life is my own, and I can do pretty much anything I please.

Well, this is new. For years, everyone but me dictated my schedule. My mornings usually began when a child poked me in the face. Long baths? Yeah, right. Two-minute showers while the five-minute oatmeal was cooking was more likely.

My daily schedule consisted of packing lunches, making beds, doing laundry, helping with homework, walking the dog, cooking, cleaning, bathing kids and getting them into bed. Like most moms, I rarely had time to myself.

The bathroom was my only escape, but that rarely worked. I recall one time I had just shut the door to the bathroom to take care of personal matters, when the door burst open and my 3-year-old daughter calmly asked, “What are you doing?”

My first thought was, “Am I raising a small moron?” But that’s not what came out of my mouth. I sweetly replied, “I’m making cupcakes.” To which she sat down on the edge of the tub to wait until the cupcakes were finished.

I recall being tired and cranky those days. And now, decades later, standing here alone, staring out the window, it started to bother me. Had I been a cranky mom?

Standing there thinking, as I recollected those days, the guiltier I felt. Was I really as bad as I was making myself out to be? I decided to go straight to the sources to find out if my recollections were correct so I could chuck this guilt thing once and for all.

Both of my off-spring (now adults) live a good distance away, so I did what any mom fearful of the answer would do — I sent a text message. “Was I cranky as a mom when you were young? Then I laid my phone down on the table and waited.

My son’s response came pretty quickly. “Mom, you weren’t cranky. That’s not the right description. You were both loving, and moody. I just had to figure out when you were which … but the moody thing didn’t last long.

Perfect. I can live with moody. I’m a woman after all, and it’s expected.

Then finally the text came that I was dreading. That sweet little girl with the blonde pigtails is all grown up now, and thankfully, not a moron. I knew I could expect a direct answer.

Let me think on it and get back to you.”

I laughed out loud. Maybe she didn’t want to make me feel bad about something I couldn’t change. And she’s right. There’s not one thing about the past that anyone can change.

I know I wasn’t cranky all the time. I played with my kids, sewed Halloween costumes, built sandcastles, and made cookies with them. Crankiness notwithstanding, I did OK.

Smiling, I picked up my dish towel and went back to my task. My guilt was gone. Eliminated by the fact that whatever I did, wrong or right, it all turned out just fine. My kids are now happy, successful, well-adjusted adults.

So cranky moms, take heart. The day is coming when you will have all the alone time you need and then some. In the meantime, savor the craziness of your life. One day you might just miss it.