By Leslie Barnard
As a mother, you often find yourself feeling guilty and conflicted. You are constantly given unsolicited parenting advice from grandparents, friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers. But are you really a terrible mother? Take this quiz to find out.
1. Do you plan to breastfeed your child until he or she self-weans?
If so, you are a terrible mother. The co-dependence you are fostering will prevent your child from maturing into a healthy, independent individual and make it impossible for him or her to form satisfactory relationships throughout his or her life.
2. Do you plan to give your baby formula, exclusively or supplementally?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Breast is best. It rhymes, so it’s obviously true. Formula is worse than rat poison.
3. Do you plan to go back to work when your child is still an infant?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Children need a mother who is with them 24/7, who meets all their needs immediately and sacrifices everything for them.
4. Do you plan to stay home with your children?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Children need a mother they can look up to, one who embraces feminist values and contributes to the family financially.
5. Do you co-sleep with your child?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Your child will never be able to go to sleep without you and will not be able to attend college because co-sleeping with parents in the dorms is generally frowned upon.
6. Do you require your child to sleep in a crib in a separate room?
If so, you are a terrible mother. You have literally put your child behind bars. Those who grow accustomed to this arbitrary isolation will later be drawn into a criminal lifestyle, subconsciously seeking incarceration as a way of “going home.”
7. Do you plan to wait for your child to potty train him or herself when he or she is ready?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Your child will never, ever initiate potty training on his or her own. At best, he or she will learn to squat in the woods while other kids laugh uproariously and poke him or her with sharp sticks.
8. Do you plan to raise a “diaper-free” baby, using elimination communication to anticipate your infant’s toileting needs?
If so, you are a terrible mother. You will not be able to successfully intuit when your infant wants to pee or poop, so you will be peed on and pooped on regularly. Your hair and hands and face will smell like poop. Even after you shower. This experience will make you even more incapable of dealing with your emotions, and you will cry all the time, which will permanently scar your child. Additionally, your child will find your efforts to cue defecation by making grunting sounds both invasive and humiliating, and yet, ironically, he or she will continue to require you to provide these cues well into adulthood.
9. Do you stay close to your toddler at all times, making sure to keep him or her safe?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Your child will never learn to self-regulate or solve problems on his or her own.
10. Do you encourage your toddler to play independently?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Your child could climb up on the countertop and eat a box of detergent or set him or herself on fire, all while you recklessly diddle away the time wiping gobs of hummus off the floor.
11. Do you let your child eat birthday cake?
If so, you are a terrible mother. You are teaching your child that sugar and fat are the only means through which to recognize and celebrate meaningful milestones. Your child’s teeth will rot out of his or her head, and he or she will struggle with obesity for the rest of his or her life.
12. Do you make your child banana-cinnamon muffins as an alternative to birthday cake?
If so, you are a terrible mother. Your child is going to be ostracized by his or her peers, who will turn their noses up at this so-called birthday “treat.” In addition, your child will rebel in his or her teens by stealing twelve boxes of Sour Patch Kids from the nearest convenience store and stuffing his or her face until he or she barfs up a pile of neon blue goo.
Give yourself 1 point for each YES answer. That total is your TERRIBLE MOTHER score. If it is above 3, you are an ESPECIALLY TERRIBLE MOTHER. Congratulations!
Leslie Barnard is a fiction writer, essayist and mother of two based in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared in Best New American Voices 2010 and Briar Cliff Review, among others.
Illustration by Christine Juneau