Often as moms we tear ourselves down over the little things. Since it was recently Mother’s Day I wanted to give you a pick me up. We have all felt that sinking feeling of inadequacy when we feel like we weren’t very good at our mom job for the day. Maybe you didn’t get dressed at all today, maybe your kids ate fruit snacks for lunch or cereal straight from the box, maybe you didn’t clean anything, or the real zinger, maybe you did something mean and made your kid cry. We have all been there, trust me. Being a mom is such a wonderful and beautiful experience but it will arguably be the hardest undertaking of your life.
When you feel like you are failing I want you to remember that these are not things that make you a bad mom. Bad moms abandon their children without considering their welfare (not adoption, that’s different), bad moms abuse or exploit their children or allow others to do so. Bad moms are the ones that give up, quit trying, and quit caring.
I think the fact that you feel guilty, that you feel like you didn’t do a good job helps you earn your spot under the good mom category. It means that you care. It means that you are trying to do your best. It means that you want to be better for your children. We will always be our toughest critics, especially since motherhood is a long game. It’s difficult to tell if you are making the right parenting choices until your children are much older and you can look back and reflect. Right now there is no one to hand you a gold star or to give you validation, there is no pay raise or bonus at the end of each year. So how can you tell that you are in the good mom category?
If your children have shelter, clothes, food, reasonably clean living conditions, and most importantly your love and some of your time, you are a good mom. These are the things that really matter! They aren’t going to remember that you only showered once this week or if you got dressed at all it was late in the afternoon. They don’t count the days that you don’t put on make-up or let the dishes pile up in the sink. These aren’t the things that are important to them.
What they are going to remember is feeling loved, safe, and valued. They are going to remember feeling important when you stopped for a while and played with them. I can still remember my mom playing Barbie dolls with me or agreeing to rock me to sleep because I asked her to. I still remember sitting on the stairs with her as she taught me our address and phone number. Or as a teenager when I jumped in bed with her because there was lightening strike in our neighborhood. These are times that I remember feeling loved by her and they’re important to me.
The following poem captures the magic of motherhood. It is called “Excuse this House,” by an unknown author.
Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there,
Ours boasts it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.
For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges are on the doors
I should apologize, I guess
For toys strew on the floor.
But I sat down with my child
And we played and laughed and read
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
His eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I’m forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook and clean and scrub,
But first I’ll be a mother.
This is the true sign of a good mom. You will make mistakes as a parent and will need to course correct but let’s stop measuring ourselves by the things that don’t really matter and start measuring our success by how much time we spend with our children, how many hugs we give them each week, and how many times we put them first. One day your children will be all grown up and you will find that you miss those smudgy handprints on the windows, the pitter-patter of little feet down the hallway, and the wet kisses they plant on your cheek. Please don’t think that your house needs to look pristine or they need to have everything they ask for, make the most of the time you have with them now. Above all remember that because you love them, because you are trying your very best, YOU ARE A GOOD MOM!
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