In this uncertain world, I am 100 percent certain I am a great mother. Make that a friggin’ fabulous mother. I’m as positive that I’m an amazing mother as you are that you’re a less-than-perfect one, regretting your parenting decisions and beating yourself up.
I know how so many mothers think, because I work at a parenting website, and all day long I read non-stop about mom guilt, mothers making promises to themselves to be ‘better’ mothers the following day, and many, many stories about how mothers can’t have it all and can’t find the balance, so they feel like failures. Oh, and there are so, so many parenting experts and coaches out there. Obviously, there is an audience, and need, for parenting experts for many unsure-of-themselves moms.
I can’t seriously be the only mother out there who feels 100 percent capable as a parent, can I? Or in this day and age, is it just wrong to admit you are a great mom? Or, god forbid, to say it aloud? But I’m saying it. And I’ll say it again; I’m a f***ing great mom.
Am I a perfect mother? Heck no, but that’s because I’m an imperfect human. I’m disorganized, to say the least. Just last week, we missed an orthodontist appointment…for the fourth time. I’m trying to care that I forgot again…but I don’t. Another appointment will be made and my daughter’s teeth will be perfectly straight.
Many permission forms are filled out, literally, the morning of those excursions. I don’t care. My children have never missed a field trip. The forms get in really damn late, but they get in. I missed all parent-teacher interviews so far this year. I’m not beating myself up over it. Why? I’m pretty sure if there were an issue with my kids at school, I’d hear about it. I just couldn’t make parent-teacher interviews on the days they occurred. But am I going to punish myself? Nope!
I missed my son’s holiday concert because I had committed to something else. Did I feel bad? Um, I wish I could say I did, but there will be many many more concerts that I will attend. I miss kid’s birthday parties that I RSVP’d to weeks earlier. Why? Because I’m also forgetful. Presents are bought on the way to birthday parties. Or dropped off at kid’s homes days after the party.
Many weekends, my son will only drink chocolate milk and eat Lucky Charms…for every single meal. He eats well the rest of the week, so this doesn’t bother me either. With my daughter, who will only eat organic, I often lie and tell her something’s organic when it’s not. I do not feel bad about this at all. Not. At. All.
If my son is rude to me, I give him the silent treatment until he says he’s sorry, which could take up to two hours. I wait for him to come to me when he’s ready. This actually works. I’m constantly reminding my daughter to clean up after herself. Yet, I do not demand that her room is perfectly neat, also, because I don’t really care. It’s her room. I keep the door shut. Messy room and teenagers go hand-in-hand, so why fight the inevitable. She’ll eventually tidy it when she needs to find something.
I also bribe my children when I have to. I ignore them when I have to. I separate them saying, ‘No one looks at anyone today!’ when they are arguing. I once killed my daughter’s fish. I do not know my son’s doctor’s name off by heart. And, yet, I still don’t feel like a failure as a mom. I still feel like a good mom.
My daughter is also allowed to take ‘Emotional Days Off’ school, because I believe she, as do many children, need a day off here and there. I have no idea what she’s learning in school and rarely ask her because I don’t f***ing understand it anyway, and I’ve already passed Grade 8. It’s my daughter’s turn to pass (and she’s doing just fine, thank you!)
I don’t worry if I’m spending enough time with my children. Over here, it’s always been quality time over quantity, because I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mother. I’ve never professed to be able to do the 24/7 parenting thing, so I don’t feel bad about that either. I do not eat with my kids every night. I use the iPad as a babysitter a lot. It’s a great babysitter.
I don’t worry about ‘savouring’ moments because although my babies were delightful as babies, and are delightful now, I find them even more delightful as they grow up and their own personalities shine through. I know they love me because they tell me they do. And they still want to talk to me, so, hey, all is good.
I don’t think I’ve ever ‘promised’ myself that I’d be a ‘better mother’, as the wonderful writer Alison Tedford writes in a heartwarming piece entitled, ‘I’ll Be a Better Mother Tomorrow‘. She writes, ‘Parenting seems to be an exercise in demonstrating how to handle the feeling that you are never quite good enough, often from first-hand experience.’
I do not ever feel that I’m ‘never quite good enough’ as a parent either. In work? Yes. In relationships? Absolutely. But, mostly, because I will never compare myself to another mother, I’m neither a better or worse mother than you, and you are neither a better or worse parent than me. If you stop comparing, you’d be surprised at how your confidence as a parent can grow. In fact, with all my personality faults, I can still say I am more than good enough as a parent. Again, I’m a great parent. (I’m not even going to bother bragging about my kids! Let’s just say, they are good!)
I think it’s time for all mothers to stop being so hard on yourselves. Because, really, what’s the point of ‘trying to parent better tomorrow’? If you have that outlook, you’ll be saying that every day, for the rest of your life. It’s time for parents to have faith in themselves, pat themselves on the back, and say, ‘I’m a great parent!’
Because I think you probably are.