What does it mean to be a “good” mom anyway?
I think it depends on each individual – each circumstance and situation. That makes the most sense, right?
Though, society beats this idea into our brains that somehow, magically, we are ALL “good” moms. Without knowing us or seeing us. We are all “doing our best”. Even with our bad habits, self-centered tendencies, and our limitless excuses to not try harder or be better.
Is that the kind of “good” mom I want to be?
Hell no. I don’t think anyone truly wants that. And yet I see more people and more articles surface every day, excusing the bad habits we moms have developed over the last decade.
Why are we telling ourselves that we always put our kids first when really, we don’t? Are we that oblivious to our behaviors and practices, or are we making these decisions consciously?
I believe that awareness and attentiveness are imperative in parenting these days. Especially with continually rising cases of children and young adults with behavioral disorders and emotional/mental health concerns. How can we be so naive as to presume these issues are not even slightly related to us?
In an article she wrote for Psychology Today, Dona Matthews, Ph.D. says, “Young children are closely attuned to their parents’ attention. They depend on that attention for their survival, of course, but also for their social and emotional development”. In the article, she highlights several recent research studies done on the harm caused when parents are physically present but distracted by their phones. The most commonly overlooked habit of parents today.
One of the studies reported, “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”
And yet, this is everyday life for most of us. This is accepted. This is normal.
When my first daughter was born, this was a habit I knew I had to break. I had become aware of the detrimental effects of “distraction” through various past relationships. Even as an adult, it didn’t feel good to me to be holding a one-sided conversation with someone I cared about, while they scrolled through their facebook newsfeed.
By being a “better” mom (more aware and attentive), I understand that there is irrefutable value in my presence. In being FULLY present.
I understand that my time and undivided attention is the best gift that I can give my kids.
I understand that while I raise them to be independent humans and give them the tools they need to flourish on their own, I can simultaneously create trust, security, and confidence by giving them what they need: ME. The best version of me.
By being a “better” mom, I strive to be attuned to their emotional needs. To be aware of how the things I do and say affects them internally.
I want my kids to be everything they were born to be, regardless of my own desires and hopes for them. I want them to be happy. Truly. And that means giving them the freedom and confidence to be wholly themselves, whomever that may be.
My kids weren’t brought into this world to bring me joy or fill my heart with love or teach me life lessons (even though they do). They weren’t born for ME at all.
When I get into bed every night, I strive to know without a doubt that I did the best job I could that day. Not by society’s standards, but by my own. My goal is not just to “show up”, not just to “survive”. My goal is to end each day with a sense of fulfillment, that I did everything in my power to be a really fucking GOOD mom.
I don’t believe the lie that mom-guilt just “comes with the job”. I believe it’s there to tell us that we should have tried harder.
And we should be employing that guilt to help us become better parents. To become better people, overall.
We all make mistakes. We all need help. No one has all of the answers, and sometimes we feel lost. But none of this means that we shouldn’t try harder.
We all have hard days. Sick days. Days that we are overwhelmed, days that we are sleep deprived. Days where we just don’t want to “mom”. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try harder.
Some of us don’t get breaks. Some of us are in this alone. Some of us are in the thick of motherhood surrounded in newness, frustration, and exhaustion. Some of us work full time and barely get to see our kids. Some of us have struggles that we can’t even imagine.
But we still have to show up for our kids.
We still have to try harder. Always.