“Do you think I’m a good mom?”
Sitting on the couch with my oldest son, I got brave and asked what he really thought of me. It was brave because he was only four at the time, and I knew he night be honest. But then, his opinion was really the only one that mattered.
“Yes, you are a good mom,” he reassured me with a hug. It surprised me how nervous I was to ask. What if I wasn’t a good mom? His answer brought relief.
PC: @eyeforebony via Unsplash
A few days later, the moment was less than precious. He was taking his time in the bathroom, as he had a tendency to do in the early, post-potty-training days. I was in a rush for some reason, but that was not out of the ordinary either. After I realized I could not get him to do whatever I wanted him to do, I huffed out of the bathroom yelling, aware I was not in control of him or myself in that moment.
When my impatience shows like this, I question my mothering ability. Sometimes it seems being “a good mom” is just a fluke and now the real me is showing: “The Bad Mom”.
I think most of us mothers are secretly afraid we are blowing it, that we’re incompetent, mean and terrible, and we don’t have what it takes. At least a lot of the moms I know feel this way. So our bad mom moments only confirm our suspicions.
I stomped into the bedroom to give my son and I some distance. I did not feel like talking. I felt upset with him but mostly disappointed in myself.
But instead of taking my I-need-some-space cue, he stood in the doorway and called to me, “You’re a good mom. You’re a good mom.”
I stared back at him in disbelief. How did he know exactly what to say? I broke down and cried.
I didn’t know how to respond as he repeated himself again, reiterating to my surprise the words completely opposite to how I felt.
I don’t remember what we fought about that day probably for this reason: I heard these essential five words from the only person whose opinion matters: “You are a good mom.”
That day an inner voice of truth shouted at me, “You ARE a good mom.” Through the voice of my son, it called right over my shame and self-hatred, past my own accusing finger pointed back at me.
How do I have the audacity to call myself a good mom, even when I don’t act like one? Well, if I am a good mom, I can act like one. I can put the “bad mom” in the past anytime I want and move on from her. She’s not who I am anyway.
Even when I am yelling at my children, even when I am impatient, brooding and exhausted, who I am is really “a good mom”. I’m just not acting like myself.
When you don’t act kind or compassionate or generous with your kids, it’s not the real you.
The real you loves your children with a sacrificial love you didn’t know you had. The real you stays up late holding tired bodies and wiping tears, doling out medicine and singing lullabies when you wish you were snug in your own bed.
You give and give and give, and most of the time, no one sees you. No one knows. And no one acknowledges. It’s hard work, and your children will never repay you or know how much you gave up. Maybe they won’t even care. And that’s what makes you a good mom. Because you keep showing up and doing it anyway.
Not many people will tell us we are a good mom. But we need to know it, don’t we?
Mom, you’re doing it. You’re not only doing a good job. You are a good Mom.