What it Means to Be a Good Mother
Summer has an uncanny way of making you face yourself. Whether it’s the heat, the late nights, or because time seems to stretch on and on, summer can be a time of reflection.
Maybe you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror barely hugging your child because you’re emotionally elsewhere. Or maybe you hear yourself yelling at your child to pick up the toys. Or maybe you stop and listen to your child cry after putting her in timeout. It’s during these moments that you quietly, privately ask yourself, “Am I a good mother?”
“Am I a Bad Mom?”
A lot of moms share concerns about a number of things they fear might classify them as a bad mom. From not keeping the house clean, to letting the kids have too much TV, computer or video game time and not enough physical activity, to …fill in the blank. Moms blame themselves and want to know, am I a bad mom?
I think what most moms really want to know is not whether they are a bad mom, but whether they’re a good mom. In my work as a parenting coach, I find that most moms long to feel like good mothers.
None of us wants the platitudes of others, although well intended, to answer that question. So how can a mom find out if she’s doing a good job, if she’s a good mom? I think the bigger question is, who is the judge of whether or not you’re a good mother?
The answer: You are!
But to get your answer, you have to go back in time. By this I mean that you have to have what can only be described as a time travel experience; a moment when, as if by magic, a series of memories floods into your awareness.
Tapping Your Memories
Allow yourself to feel like you’ve been transported back in time. All of a sudden you can remember the smells and sensations you felt back when your child was a baby. Begin by remembering every detail of feeding your baby in the middle of the night. You smell the milk on her lips as you embrace this quiet, warm bundle who has her finger wrapped around yours. You feel blessed, fulfilled and whole.
You recall wondering, Will I be a good mother?
Let your memory shift forward. Remember that your heart skipped a beat when your daughter stood up and took her first step. She waddled forward, stopped, and looked up, searching for your face. When she saw you, she gave you a smile that melted your heart, and tears of joy rolled down your face.
You remember wondering, Will it always be this sweet? Will I have what it takes to get through it all?
The memory shifts again. You recall the first time you inhaled sharply and forgot to breathe. You stood frozen looking at your child on the ground after a bad fall. You remember the panic swirling around deep inside your belly. You remember wondering, Am I really equipped for this job? Then you remember how you shoved those feelings aside and went into action. You did what you had to, and triumphed.
Of course you’re a good mom! How do I know?
All moms unconsciously draw their parenting knowledge and strength from an instinctive place deep inside themselves. A place that holds all the answers you didn’t know you would need. That instinctive place holds all the knowledge about how to be a good mother. And that well of information never dries up. It’s yours to access whenever you need it. You just need to remember that it’s there.
Why We Question Ourselves as Mothers
Questioning whether or not you are a good mom is part of the job description. It’s what motivates us moms to do our best and to handle things even when we don’t think we can.
So when the “Am I good mom?” question haunts you, don’t let negative thoughts, fear, or self-doubt be the judge of your self worth as a mom. Let the memories of how you followed your instincts and how you’ve triumphed tell you: Yes, you are a good mother!
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series. Go to proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.