Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?
Good, bad, witch, mom. Women can be quick to mix and match these terms. MomSpeaker Stacy Heenan Biscardi weighs two parenting experiences that made her wonder why moms seem to hold themselves (and one another) to impossible standards.
The white pants seemed like a good idea. Not turning our car around to retrieve my son's forgotten water wings seemed like a bad idea.
But we were already late.
We were on our way to my husband's firm's annual family gathering; a pool party, at a partner's shore house.
We arrived, exchanged polite greetings, made introductions and within one minute of our entrance, our 4-year-old son, already dressed in his swim shorts, slipped out of my grasp and climbed into the pool.
He thought he could stand inside the pool. And at first, he could. He thought he could swim. For a second, he could. Two seconds ticked away and now he was in the center of the pool, staring at me, frozen with fear. He was sinking quietly.
I watched him go under water once and bob back up. I watched him go under water again and I jumped into the pool, white pants and all, and pulled him to safety.
He was coughing, I was crying. We were a spectacle to behold. My husband's coworker offered me a towel, a kind word. Women offered me dry clothes, moral support.
"Don't be embarrassed, don't feel like a bad mother . . . It happens to all of us."
It really made me wonder. Why are we as women so hard on ourselves and on other women?
A man would NEVER say that to another man who had just pulled off a heroic water rescue. He would just high-five him and mutter, "Nice save." More than a few men high-fived me as I emerged from the pool like a wet mess.
Twenty-four hours later, it was time to drive home from the shore. We had two cars. I took the little guy, not yet 2 years old.
It's usually an hour and a half drive home. But three-quarters of the way, we hit torrential downpours, flooded highways, a parking lot formed on the expressway. We were stuck in the car for six and a half hours. Just me and my 22-month-old boy. We ate snacks, we drank, we played on the iPad, we laughed.
Snacks ran low. Water ran out. Some drivers jumped out of their cars and panicked, or socialized, or walked to the shoulder to relieve themselves.
Was I a bad mom for not bringing more water? Juice? Not changing my baby's diaper right then and there? Was I a bad mom for taking him to the nearest Wendy's as soon as I could exit the expressway?
Or was I a good mom because I stayed calm, played his favorite train song 20 times, talked to him, held his piggies in my hand, made him giggle in the 30-minute line inside Wendy's playing Nosey Nosey.
You can look at everything both ways.
A frightening near-drowning or a lesson learned on the fragility of life and risk-taking nature of little boys.
A drive home from hell or making memories with my baby.
The panic of being stuck with strangers all around you or the calm in recognizing their shared humanity.
"Here, take my shorts. You're all wet."
"Here, take this napkin, there's no more toilet paper in the (Wendy's) bathroom."
"Is your son OK?"
"Is your baby OK?"
Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
Stacy Heenan Biscardi is a freelance writer and attorney from Bryn Mawr, PA. She has written for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, Chic Mom Magazine and several other publications. She is a former writer/producer for NBC and CBS. Stacy lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and two young sons. This post was adapted from her blog, Wifty & Shifty.