When I am sick, tired or stressed I become irritable. When I am irritable, I’m not the mother I wish I was. When I see myself fall short in a reaction or choice, I immediately think “I’m just not a good mom.” I know it’s impossible to be perfect, and normal to mess up, but somehow it still seems like I shouldn’t. I should just be perfect. I mean really, how hard can it be?
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Impossible, in fact. Perfection is a soul-crushing pursuit. If you are a self-motivated, high achiever who is competitive with themselves like me (and I really hope for your sake you aren’t) then small parental failures can put you in a funk. I’m not competitive in that I want to beat others. I’m competitive because I think that if someone else can do something, I should be able to do it too. And if I don’t, I’m somehow putting my entire children’s future in jeopardy.
They won’t know how to cook gourmet food if I keep making pasta bake. How are they going to be bilingual if I never put on Univision? The trouble is that, instead of taking a nice average of our strengths and weaknesses, we judge ourselves based solely on our weaknesses. The house is a mess, we are horrible mothers. I yelled at the kids today, they will need electric shock therapy as adults.
We need to stop worrying about measuring up to some standard, and start being encouraged we are doing a good job. Well, how do you know you are doing a good job? First off, I doubt you’re even reading a post about parenting if you aren’t, but we’ll ignore that for right now. Here’s why I think you’re a good mom.
1. You try.
Pretty much, if you try to be a good mom then pat yourself on the back. If you get up each morning, even after sleepless nights, and you put on a brave face, well done. You try to get nutritious meals on the dinner table. You try to read and spend time with your kids. You try to be patient and kind and encouraging. It’s in your heart to do and, to the best of your capacity in the moment, you do it. You aim high, and your kids can see that.
2. You push through.
There are so many things in life that we can just quit. We can quit smoking, drinking Diet Coke (yeah right), a job, a church, a group, even a friendship. We can quit those things because we can just stop showing up. Or stop buying something. Or stop calling someone. Motherhood is different. Day in and day out you wake up and start over. Yesterday may not have been a good day, but today can be different. Hugs are new. Smiles are new. Songs are new. We ask for forgiveness anew, and children are so eager to give it. If you push through even when you don’t want to, you’re a good mom.
3. You love your kids
If you care about your children’s emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, you’re a good mother. When you make decisions for their own good – even if they don’t like it – you’re earning your stripes. Even if they’re badly behaved, even if they embarrass you in public, even if you gain 50 pounds and have to wear a diaper at the age of 50 as battle scars of pregnancy labor, you still love them. And when you love them, they feel loved.
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4. You protect.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but mothers save lives. Last night my daughter choked on an apple. I can’t say I was graceful, and I can say we had to take the living room rug outside, but the fact is… that could have ended badly. Praise God it didn’t, but the day in and day out supervision you provide your children is the reason they are still here. It’s the reason they are growing. We absolutely cannot protect our children from everything, and mistakes happen even under our watchful eyes, but day in and day out we do our best to protect our children. We protect them from hot ovens, from kitchen knives, from their siblings, and from bullies. We don’t always succeed, but our mama bear and lioness hearts are there.
5. You sacrifice.
Good mothers sacrifice their sleep, their sanity, their time, and their good looks. Maybe only temporarily, but maybe not. You don’t have to sacrifice your career to be a good mother (obviously), but many good mothers do sacrifice their careers. You don’t have as much time for friends, for hobbies, and for solitary pursuits. There are times and seasons of life, and in many of the seasons mothers sacrifice a great deal. What’s so special about this and, dare I say sacred, is that you think it’s worth it. You count the cost, you feel the loss, and you still sacrifice. That’s a good mother.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
If you need encouragement today, mother, then believe me. It’s not your lows that define you. Your children don’t expect you to be perfect, in fact, they are far more forgiving of you than you are of yourself. When you feel like a good mother you will be confident in yourself, your choices, and your home life.
Your children already think you are a good mother, and since they are what make you a mother, don’t insult them by disagreeing.