I'm the World's Worst Mother... and I Don't Plan to Change

I am deserving of the World's Worst Mother title, and I don't plan to change. Why? Because I'm set in my ways, of course, and because I genuinely believe that my actions will NOT have the perpetuated consequences that others perceive they will.

My beautiful 2-and-a half year-old son is a normal toddler. He loves roughhousing, he finds great joy from climbing on things that he shouldn't be on, he's slightly obsessed with his sister -- our 3-year-old chocolate lab mutt -- and he's very affectionate. Without being too mushy, I never dreamed of loving a human being the way I love my son. He's so much more than everyone told me he would be.

Last week I posted photos of my son baking me a Mickey Mouse cake in his play kitchen. As he showed off his imaginary baking ingredients and demonstrated how to mix the batter, he was all smiles. He sang the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song while tapping his finger on the plastic stove, impatient for the chicken clock to chime so he could present me with his first baked good. I, the proud mommy, posted his photo with the caption, "Look at my little chef." I expected likes and comments about how creative he was, but I didn't expect anger. My husband saw the photo but instead of remarking on our son's smile or creativity, he was upset that I posted a photo of our son wearing a purple apron. I am the World's Worst Mother!

debra richardson

I texted a video of our son smiling and laughing to my husband yesterday. In the video, our dog barks encouragingly, as she circles my son, who is laughing hysterically and struggling to stand. I looked in his eyes as I filmed him and I saw the glint of pride. He felt accomplished, proud... and silly. Again he sang a nursery rhyme loudly as he paraded around our house -- in my dress shoes. For weeks he has been wearing his daddy's shoes, strutting around the house as if he too were 6'4" and a man. My husband always beamed and laughed loudly, never berating him for wearing the shoes. My husband's response to the video of our son wearing my shoes, however, was anything but amusement. "I am all for being open to new ideas and ways of doing things, but I am a strong believer in following some traditional practices," he texted back. "If you want a girl to play dolly-house, you should hang out with the little girl next door."

Again, I'm the World's Worst Mother. Write it on a sticky note, and place it on my back. Better yet, I should have it tattooed on my forehead.

If encouraging my young son to seek enjoyment in life, live in the moment and look up to BOTH parents makes me the World's Worst Parent, then I'm okay with that. If seeking educational opportunities for my impressionable son that do not revolve around sports, rough and tumble play or picking him up out of mud puddles makes me the World's Worst Parent, them I'm okay with that.

Yes, I'd love a girl to play dolly-house with. I'd love to have a daughter who enjoys some of the calmer things in life, who I can enjoy the Hallmark channel with and go shopping with. I'd love to take her shopping for her first prom gown, go on mother-daughter dates to get manicures or help her pick out an outfit for her first date. But God blessed me with a son (soon to be 2), and I don't see anything wrong with sharing some of the things that bring me enjoyment with my son.

I love to read (no surprise for an English teacher) and I have tried, since the day he was born, to instill in him the love of reading and learning. I love to bake and after having his play kitchen for 8 months and showing zero interest in it, I was so thrilled when he borrowed my spoons and spatulas to bake me that Mickey Mouse cake. I am passionate about animals, and my son's relationship with our adopted dog, Sasha, brings a smile to my face every day.

As much as my husband wants to believe that my mothering is bringing out the worst in our son, and dare I say it, may lead him to be gay... I believe differently. If my son tells me one day that he is gay, I will not love him any less, but right now, my son is a baby, innocent to the evil of the world, protected in his mother's arms and supported by a network of loving family and friends.

I refuse to hinder his fondness for certain colors, prevent him from innocently wearing certain clothing or narrowing his creativity because society doesn't deem it proper or fitting for his gender. How can I expect him to be a good father if he's never permitted to tuck in a baby doll? How can I expect him to understand women as an adult if he never learned to talk to them as a child? How can I expect my son to comprehend empathy and sympathy when I don't permit him to hug or kiss? How can I expect my son to accept loss, fear and anger as normal emotions when he's never permitted to express those emotions himself?

If adorning me with the World's Worst Mother seems fitting for some to bestow on me, then okay. I'll accept it with a smile and the reassurance that I am raising a child who will one day be a husband, father, follower of Christ and a productive member of society. Whatever else he does or wherever he goes is beyond my assumption and control but he will always have an adoring mother, full of pride and no regrets, to return to.