I saw an intriguing and thought-provoking question the other day: “What is your definition of a ‘good mom'”?
Think about that for a minute.
Take a moment to jot down what you think are the essential qualities.
At the same time, please acknowledge that parents confuse this question with the daily self critique of “not being good enough.” Why is that? I believe that we are trying to measure up to an unrealistic ideal in parenting. Not being “good enough” in this sense really means “less-than-perfect” when perfection is the way this person feels worthy as a parent.
That is where we confuse and defeat ourselves. We shortchange our kids with what they really need: us. Flawed. Imperfect. Us.
If we are so busy tearing down our best efforts because they aren’t up to some imaginary measuring stick, that is wasted energy. How is it we accept flawed, imperfect attempts by our kids (and find them adorable, by the way), but we don’t afford ourselves the same appreciation.
Stop and review the list you wrote of the things that nourish and flourish little people into healthy adults. I doubt you had on your list, “Cook a homemade healthy meal every day.” “Never raise my voice.” “Have all laundry folded neatly and put away (with socks that found their mates) all the time.” No? Well why do we get discouraged when we don’t do these?
Here are some insightful “good mom” responses from real moms who answered this questions honestly and thoughtfully. There are 20 responses and you’ll see quite a few repeated ideas. I will bold repeats to scream, “Pay attention!” It’s surprising, really, how being good enough is quite simple.
As you read, please consider if you can do these things and how to do them as often as possible. If you concentrate on these, let go of the rest and just do your best.
- Love your kids, apologize when you’re wrong, and do your best.
- A mom who never gives up on being better.
- Unconditional love, says sorry when necessary, teaches basic life skills like respect and kindness, the importance of good education but allowing natural consequences. And love some more.
- The best mom for my kids is me, not because I am anything great, but because I love them and will continue trying to do better. Today my house is a mess, my kids haven’t bathed in days, we ate pancakes for dinner, and didn’t bother doing any school work. But we did cuddle under the duvet, laughed at movies, talked about the things we love, took care of our animals and generally enjoyed each other. Tomorrow I will clean the house and they will do some work. But tonight I will have a bubble bath and restart our journey together.
- For me, I feel like I am being a good mom because I pack their lunches (mostly) as a tangible thing I do purely because I love them. But honestly, my kids are the ones teaching me how to be a good mom every day. Nobody has ever taught me to be a good mom other than my own children.
- When your kids have a nightmare, do they come to you for comfort? Do they know they know they can come to you for anything without fear or judgement? If they can, then you are a good mom.
- For me, I am a perfectionist. I tried so hard to be the perfect mom. I know the “gifts of imperfection” (Brene Brown) and I believe a good mom is actually imperfect, relatable, and tries to connect with an imperfect kid. I no longer even want to be perfect.
- Some days I want to strive to be loving, compassionate, Donna Reed, Pinterest Mom. Other days, I strive to not be a Netflix, Documentary binge-watching Mom. It’s all about balance.
- A mom who knows this job is crazy hard and keeps trying anyway. A mom that’s dependable, that shows kids love unconditionally, that gives them safety (emotionally, spiritually, and physically). A mom that motivates them, who is honest with them, and apologizes for her mistakes. One that is trying to prepare her kids for life all while growing with them herself. A mom that strives to teach them of their worth and of God’s love for them personally.
- A mom whose kids know they are loved.
- A mom who keeps trying. A mom who says she is sorry when she needs to. A mom who is not a doormat to her kids or anyone else. A mom who is teaching her kids how to operate in the world and she doesn’t want them being treated or treating other badly. She works to teach them to be decent by insisting they be decent to each other and to her. A mom who gives herself credit for what she’s doing right and knows where she needs to improve and is working on it.
- Someone doing the best they can in the circumstances they’re in–knowing full well they are not perfect but they try, they love their children and do what’s best for them. Every bit of good we do for our family is good.
- Do my kids know I love them? Yes they do. So I am a good mom.
- Who loves her kids and tries.
- Loves her children unconditionally, teaches them to be independent and have good self esteem, is a good example, teaches them that she is human and mistakes and owns up to them and apologizes.
- Being present.
- One who gives time. One who teaches. One who cries with her kids and doesn’t always give into all their demands but teaches instead of consequences. One who is true to herself and doesn’t try to be someone else. At the end of the day, giving and loving is what kids want most.
- Someone who love her child and keeps trying even when she fails.
- A mom who loves her children and herself (so important!) as Christ would. A mom who welcomes imperfection and never gives up.
- Anyone who has had three or more hours of sleep.
I encourage you to add the bolded words to the list you made. When we boil all down this messy work of parenting, it comes down to these few things. “Welcomes imperfection” is one of my favorite phrases. What a GOOD thing to strive for each day.