I have an idea for a gift instead of a birth sampler for a baby shower (or “baby gender reveal party” whatever the hell that is, ironically going against the Millennial generation’s desire to de-emphasize gender differences). Doesn’t the younger generation also like making shit out of cat or alpaca hair because they’re bitter their moms went to work and didn’t stay home to read them Harry Potter in unique character voices or something? (Honestly, if Gen X mothers went to work and left you in day care it was because their mothers told them to since they’d burned their bras for the privilege). So if you’re going to make something from scratch besides your gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO organically grown zucchini frittata with matcha tea, why not stitch something up to hang on your eco-friendly, non-toxic painted walls?
Custom cross-stitches aren’t hard to find—you can design and print out a pattern from nearly any cross-stitch website for free if you’d like to create the framed gift yourself, or, if you’re lazy and your life motto is “embrace mediocrity” <another cross-stitch I need> like me, you can go to Etsy and order for the mom-to-be, or even for your own children, the following hand-embroidered message: SORRY I FUCKED UP YOUR CHILDHOOD.
That handcrafted framed apology will serve as a reminder to the recipient that mothers aren’t perfect. Not only that, but we can find new ways to fuck things up even decades into motherhood and after raising kids, since we don’t seem to have the ability to learn from fucking things up, either.
The Apology is great because it doesn’t say “sorry” for fucking some thing up, like that time we chaperoned the middle school dance and did the “Cupid Shuffle” in front of your friends because we were with one of our friends and thought one flask of Captain Morgan snuck into our Dunkin Donuts coffee cups was going to be “innocent enough” and got a little carried away. The Apology doesn’t say we’re sorry about the time you were the last kid picked up, or the time we were away on a trip and missed being there to take photos of your big game/play/insert repeating important event that you’ll casually mention for the next three decades worth of holidays, minimum.
The Apology says we are sorry for FUCKING UP YOUR CHILDHOOD. IN GENERAL. If you’re overly OCD, depressed, stressed, a bitch, you hate crowds, people, your boss, children, their mothers, yourself, society, me, science or algebra, the government, kittens, or whatever other grievous wrongdoing that you’d like to attribute to something that took place during your childhood, I’m willing to take the heat for it. That striped turtleneck and jumper can’t be unsnapped now, and honestly I don’t really care about it so let’s hang the DMC cross-stitch thread of your choice of 489 colors on the wall and I’ll be the one to blame.
Every time you want to mommyguilt me, you can walk over to that floral-edged piece of handcrafted-by-someone artistic beauty and know that I’m honestly sorry. My mom, who raised six kids, once said: “If I had known how to do a better job, I would have done it.” At the time she said it to me, I kind of thought it was a copout, but now that I’ve raised two adults and nearly (tick-tock) two teenagers, I think it’s honest and accurate.
There’s no manual. We do the best we can. Each kid is different, which means we have to raise each kid a different way. This means, in my case, I have to be four different moms. The only thing I’m really good at is fucking it up. Luckily there’s a whole psychology industry ready to listen to what bad moms we are. We must keep these folks in business. If we were Mary Poppins Carol Brady moms, they’d go broke. And that wouldn’t do.
—Follow Mary McCarthy on Twitter: @marymac