Tell me I’m not alone in wondering that.
Tell me I’m not the only one who stands in the bathroom and looks in the mirror with tears in her eyes and has that moment of doubt and wonder and worry.
I just want to be a good mom.
Not a perfect mom.
Just a good mom.
That’s what I want my kids to remember.
I want them to remember a mom that smiled and tried and gave and made mistakes and apologized for those mistakes (again and again) and just loved loved loved them.
But somedays I worry. Make that most days I worry. I worry that I’m not spending enough time with them or am reading enough to them or that I did enough math facts or spelling words. I worry that they’ll grow up looking at me and being upset with me and angry at me for not doing this or that or making hard choices. I worry that because I snapped at them when they wouldn’t go to bed that that is what they’ll remember. I just plain and simply worry.
And that makes those moments when I type in Facebook Messenger the words I’m a good mom, right? even more tender and real and just a picture of us moms all trying.
I shared a post on my Facebook wall (link) of this really awesome and cool mom who let her toddler pick her clothes out for a week and instantly I thought I lost that moment. Yes, yes, my first thoughts, humbly, were of looking at me and what I’ve done and being a bit hard on myself. But, but, but, as I scrolled through the beautiful pictures I realized that so many of you could have that moment if I shared the joys and victories that we as a collective motherhood unit have instead of looking at them like a scoreboard where all too often my score reads in my own mind under ten.
Yes, that moms.
Being a good mom doesn’t mean needing to do everything that everyone else does.
You see even though I didn’t let my toddlers choose my clothes when they were little I did other things. We had ice cream sundaes and dress up parties and I made them the coolest Halloween costumes out of scraps in the house and I stayed up and taught them how to count and how to write their names.
Those things matter.
In fact, I bet if you looked back at your days you’ll have those moments tucked in there.
Those are the good mom things that sometimes I forget when I type and worry and drive in my car up to drop my boys off at choir practice and all the wanting to be a good mom tears to fall. I just don’t want to mess up. I just want to make the right choices for them. I don’t want to worry all the time that this choice will mess them up here or they won’t forget it or they’ll be adults who want nothing to do with me the person that carried them in her belly for nine months and screamed in pain to deliver them and stayed up without sleep and burped them and changed their diapers and helped them walk and cleaned up vomit and tucked them in and on and on and on.
The truth is that I cannot control that.
You cannot either.
They are independent wonderful drive you crazy individual humans.
So we do our best.
We are good moms.
Not perfect moms that never fall and have moments of doubts or worry.
We are good moms.
A good mom is a beautiful, rewarding, unbelievably awesome thing to be. A good mom burns the grill cheese and scrapes the burnt part off in the garbage and chooses the worst piece for herself and says it’s not that bad as she dips it in tomato soup.
A good mom makes choices her kids don’t understand or says in a minute because she’s working but not working means that there is no milk in the fridge and no new shoes on their feet.
A good mom wants to be a good mom.
That’s what makes that wonder beautiful in a way. You see, you right now – you wondering if you’re a good mom or if you’re doing enough or if you’re making a difference – are right now in the midst of the journey to be mom. My grandmother, when she was alive, never talked to me about how she wished she was a good mom.
She was simply mom.
And she knew in those years that the loving, trying, crying, laughing, giving, going, and all of it mattered. She saw it in hindsight. And before she died, when I just had that one sweet colicky baby of mine and I was floundering around worrying about motherhood and just wanting to do it right she told me this.
I am proud of you.
Not words about what I needed to do more. Or that I shouldn’t be using those disposable diapers. Or that I wasn’t using the right sleeping pattern. Or that I just picked the pacifier up and put it back in Hannah’s mouth after wiping it off. No no no… she was simply proud. Because she saw how I, once the little girl who used to sit in her lap and laugh and play piano, was now a woman, unsure of her own role in this crazy thing of mothering, was simply trying.
And loving. Yes, loving that creature that someday would call me mom instead of simply crying and me trying to figure out if she was hungry or gassy or tired or just simply a baby.
So today, today, sweet mom reading these words who has uttered the same words as me listen. Like really listen. Not the kind of listen that we do to our kids and then worry if that will make us not good moms because we’re doing the uh that’s nice kind of listen. I’m talking about taking a breath and reading these words of truth.
You are a good mom.
And I’m proud of all you do.
ps. and don’t worry. I think almost all of us moms have at one point or another done the uh-huh kind of mothering listen and let me tell you they turn out fine.
pss. pictures are courtesy of my daughter Hannah who once was that colicky baby but who turned out awesome.
I say this just about every post, but thank you. From a place of coulda-done-more, depression-ridden, scrambling-all-the-time regrets, thank you. It is so easy to listen to the voice inside nagging with doubt and comparisons, so hard to hear the One that says, I chose you for this.You are a good mom.Thank you again for the reminder.:)
You just became my favorite author. This hit me right in the heart. I needed to read this.
Love this post as I love all of your posts but I just have to tell you, your kids are gorgeous! 🙂
Thank-you for this – that’s a question that runs through my mind often. And it’s nice to hear a mention of one of your daughters again! I love hearing and seeing pics of your adorable sons lately, but was beginning to wonder where your daughters have gone!?!
Keep on trying, Rachel. You might be amazed at how much your children will appreciate you when they are grown up and see how much love and devotion you gave them AS a single Mom.
This is powerful, and it made me cry. I’m so glad you got to hear your grandmother tell you she was proud. I’ve only read a few of your writings, but you’re already one of my favorite bloggers I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for sharing your heart.
I so needed this! I ask this of myself constantly. I even ask my very small children this question and of course they say I am a good mom if I will give them chocolate. I’ve asked My spouse and friends so much that they don’t even answer anymore. I’ve asked God and only gotten angry at His perceived silence. I don’t know what I want to hear. Constant flattery wouldn’t even get to the root of what I am hoping for, I think because intuitively, we know that being “good” means not even thinking of ourself. Being “good” when it comes to mothering means to give and give and give until it hurts and then give some more. And not expect a thank you or a congratulations. Because we didn’t do it for that. We did it humbly and as a free gift and what the recipient does with e gift is out of our control. Even if they don’t fully understand w at we did or why. Even if they don’t see all that we do. Even if they don’t feel the love that we try so hard to give. We have to accept them for all their idiosyncracies and just give to them and love them. And know that we can lean on each other for support and we can love each other. God sees all that we do and all that we are trying to do and He loves.
Thank you for this. Today was definitely an “am I a good mom?” day.
Hi Rachel, that’s such a nice piece. I went searching ‘I’m a good Mum’ on google because I wanted to cheer myself up, and yours was the first one that came up that said ‘I’m a good Mum’ as opposed to ‘I’m NOT a good…’ You’re so lucky to have that affirmation from your own Mother. Some of us have the exact opposite problem – I think I’m doing ok, but my own Mum tells me to my face how bad she thinks I’m doing. It’s so important to stay positive and affirm these small things with each other, to help undo all the negativity that surrounds or comes from within.
Thank you. I needed to read this more than you can know.I stumbled across this by accident tonight as I sat here crying on New Years because I feel like I messed my daughter up. I had terrible post partum depression for the first three years of her life and just feel like I wasn’t there. Now she is 10 and I feel so much time with her was lost. Thank you for the reminder that it’s the little things now that will make the difference. I know I can’t get those years back and that breaks my heart. But I am trying to be present for her now.
Thank you! This really hit home. This single parenting thing sucks! I worry that I’m doing the right thing all the time. Esp when I go to work. My boys have such a hard time when I go. I have a hard time going. My parents then report how hard it is on the boys when I go. My parents watch my kids when I’m working. I just want to say gee thanks Mom like it isn’t hard enough without you telling me on a regular bases…. but someone has to pay the bills. At least I’m not alone in my thoughts. :)Thank you.
The words that Ive read from this page are the words that only my heart knew. I am so grateful that the universe brought me here today. I am a 20 year old single mother and everyday with every decision i question myself. Its hard with so little support.. But its absolutely life changing to read these words. And all of these beautiful moms out there, we are the light of this planet only outshined by the light of our children. Thank you for changing my life today. Thank you so much. I have faith again.