How Do I Know if I Am a Good Mom
Mother’s Day is just around the corner. It is such an important day. And, once again, as with all major holidays, it is commercialized. YET, in my opinion [insert fist slamming the table] compared to other holidays, Mother’s Day (yes, Father’s Day as well) is NOT commercialized enough! Amp it up, people.
Why can’t Mother’s Day celebrations start 2.5 months early as we do with Christmas? Why can’t we propel this puppy into overdrive around New Year’s? I know Dads are super important – I mean, welcome to science; however, there is just something about the connection between mother and child. It is a bond you just cannot explain – agree?
We learn a lot from our “mother” figures – whether they are in our life entirely or not at all. Even an absent mother teaches us a lot. Whether your “mother” is a birth mother, guardian, stepmother, grandmother, or the amazing woman who may have adopted you, most of us understand the concept, at least of what the word “mother” means. Early on, many of us decide if we want to mimic Mom’s habits and traits or run for the hills and be nothing like her. Regardless of anyone’s experience, we all have been “birthed” and influenced by a female figure of some sort. This brings me to pondering for the week – How Do I Know if I am a “Good Mom?”
I thought mostly about those who have given birth to and raised their own children, and in order to protect me even further than that disclaimer – I will share the nagging, I mean loving, assessments I have made of myself as a mother of two beautiful, compassionate and brilliant sons. Oh, I bet they cannot wait to read this and weigh in. So, again, my pondering is that of a personal experience, NOT judgment of anyone else’s story.
I first began processing the typical role of an American mother. I say American because that is my tale. I am unfamiliar with a mother’s role in other cultures, and as I said, I will stick to my personal experience.
The caregiver, disciplinarian, security officer, educator, financier, nurturer, housekeeper, public advocator, healthcare provider, nurse, confidant, accountability master, motivator, nutritionist, mentor – oh boy, I felt like the list could go on and on. Yet, I still asked myself, “How Do I Know if I am a Good Mom?” I knew the answer would be subjective regardless of whomever I asked the question.
My sons would first inhale, have an internal conversation, and then answer matter-of-factly as if running for governor, unloading all sorts of “politically correct” randomness. This tactic is due to history – they know my questions always come “loaded.” “Mom, stop – this is crazy; you know you are a great mom. Stop; you are the best. Mom, don’t cry.” Hug hug. Yet, I will never forget when I stupidly asked my oldest son when he was about 10 years old, “What will you remember most about me when I pass?” Quicker than an egg frying on the pavement in Texas, he answered, “That you worked hard and the house was always clean.”
WTH. So, guess what? I just realized – that is where they first started learning my questions were loaded. I vaguely remember that after his answer, I ran a red light and started sobbing. Therefore, this bright young man quickly learned no more honest answers to that broad again.
My parents would also answer politically correctly as well. “Of course, you are a good mom – a great mom” [insert painful pause as they realize I must be having some random crisis, and they are too tired for more of my self-deprecating rants]. My sister, friends, or man in my life would answer perhaps a bit more honestly.” You, at times – I mean not all the time, but some of the time – I mean a once in a while, get a little more involved than you should – perhaps, but like not always, and you work hard, and they look up to you – now that is important right…they respect you. So…”
Lord – what to hell are those answers, you guys? I quickly realized that with my little game this week, I would be left drinking my coffee and staring off into the ocean, trying to, once again, analyze the crap out of my 32 years as a mother and figure it all out for myself, “How Do I Know if I am a Good Mom?”
And it went something like this; quite a bipolar conversation, I must say. I sometimes chit-chatted internally while blurting out loud in the next breath, causing a ruckus to the gray cranes marching across my lawn.
“Peggy, you always wanted to be a mother. You really took care of yourself. Better than you did when you weren’t pregnant. Remember? You worked, yes. I always worked two jobs, BUT that showed motivation, dedication, and responsibility, didn’t it [I think that sentence was blurted with my really loud ‘outside’ voice]. Maybe I should’ve stayed home? But I would have gone crazy [also blurted out loud]. They wouldn’t have had the things they needed and wanted if they didn’t work. Well, the house was clean; am I supposed to be a slob? Organization shows respect. You cooked – oh, and baked. Yes, I know you did watch all the food labels, but I mean, the boys were athletes, so, like, you had to. But you baked – well, that was good, or was it? When they were sick or injured…boy, oh boy, they were injured a lot…you were right there. You used soap in the mouth once. That showed you were a badass, right? Or was that horrible [also blurted out loud and my head now flailing backward]? Well, they never went to jail, and no one was pregnant. –Where did that come from?– You were tough; tough enough? Maybe I loved them too much. I mean, maybe I love them waaaay too much. But what is too much? There isn’t a book on this crap… Aaaaaargh!”
Exhausted, I rolled my eyes, realized I was out of coffee, had scared away the cranes, had come to absolutely no determination, and noted the morning had passed – the bottom line…I have and will continue to do what feels right in my heart, live in the moment, and hope and pray someday they understand being THEIR MOM was the best damn job I have ever had or will ever have, and no matter what anyone says or thinks, “I am a damn amazing Mom.”