Dear Sanctimommy: You’re Not the Perfect Mom

You’re standing in the grocery store aisle trying to remember if you already have an unopened bag of Goldfish at home or if you need to buy more, when she finds you. She takes one look at your messy-faced toddler, chewing on your grocery list in the seat of the cart, and draws up short. Her eyebrows skyrocket and her nostrils flare. Then she smiles.

“You know those are really high in sodium, don’t you?” she says, placing a protective hand on her own toddler’s head and gesturing to the Goldfish. You make some sort of noncommittal noise.

“I bake my own Goldfish crackers,” she continues. “They’re super easy. They only take four hours and my daughter loves them. Let me give you the recipe. You shouldn’t be giving those to your kid.”

Ah, the sanctimommy. You know who I mean — that mom who thinks she’s perfect. Or rather, who wants you to think she’s perfect. She shows up in the comments section of the article you’re reading about how to get your toddler to sleep through the night. (“Being awake with your baby is your job. Enjoy that extra time with your little one. It’s fleeting.”) She pops up out of nowhere when you pull out your bottle of formula. (“You know breast is best, right? I exclusively breastfed my oldest until she was 35. You should really consider ditching the bottles.”) She stalks your Facebook wall to leave comments on all of your pictures. (“If you’d been watching your child instead of taking that photo, the paint wouldn’t be all over the floor.”)

Poor Sanctimommy. It’s not really about the Goldfish or the sleep or the paint, is it? It’s okay, you can tell me. I know, it’s hard to admit it. But you’re safe here. I won’t tell. It’s all about that fear you have, right? That worry that just won’t go away. We all have it, from time to time. You’re not alone. Here, I’ll say it for you. You’re worried you’re not a good mom. Isn’t that it? In fact, you’re so worried, that the only way you can feel better is to prove that you’re a good mom. Over and over and over. At my expense. In the grocery store. While I’m wrangling my toddler. And trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

But, Sanctimommy, there’s a flaw in your logic. You see, when you tell me that staying up at night with my toddler is my job, you assume that will make me feel like a selfish jerk and realize what a great mom you are for doing the thing I’m trying to avoid. But I don’t feel that way at all. I feel sorry for you. I’m sorry that your priorities are so skewed that you don’t realize that a well-rested mom and a toddler with clear boundaries are good things. But I won’t tell you this. I’m not a sanctimommy.

Next Page: Why You're Not the Perfect Mom, and Why That's OK.