I see you there wiping up yet another spill, folding more laundry and soothing tears. Your frustration boils up at times. You wonder if what you do each day matters and if you’re a good mother. Here is your answer. Yes.
There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.- Jill Churchill
Those everyday moments add up to your child’s growing up years. They may not remember all the things that you did for them or all the words that you spoke to them, but they will remember how you made them feel. (Thanks, Maya Angelou, for that reminder.) The time you invest in your home can give them a feeling of safety. Spontaneous dance parties, craft activities and times in nature can give them a sense of joy and wonder. The time you invest in your work can leave them with a feeling of being capable of growing up to work hard and follow their passions. Time spent playing a game or listening to their stories makes them feel seen and important.
You will mess up at times. This doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you human. We can use these times as a gift to our children to show them how to take responsibility for their actions, ask for forgiveness and repair relationships. They are human too and need to see this modelled. Sometimes you will need help from a friend, a mentor or a counsellor to process your own pain to allow you to grow past your default reactions. This makes you a good mother too.
We sometimes think of being a mother in static terms- you either are one or you’re not. And yet, I know that I am not the same mother today that I was when my daughter was a newborn. As my daughter continues to grow, my mothering will change too. We are works in progress, learning and adapting to the needs of our children at each new stage. Maybe the times of questioning if you are a good mother are indicators that a time of transition is happening and some adjustments are needed? It doesn’t make you a bad parent, just a developing one.
Choose your focus
I have found in my own parenting journey that putting aside the question can be helpful. Instead of wondering if I am a good mother, I can choose to focus on the small choices each day that bring me closer to my daughter and who I want to be in her life. I can choose to put down my phone and enter into her imaginative play. I can choose to say yes when she wants to help me cook, even if it means more mess to clean up later. A heartfelt ‘sorry’ and ‘please forgive me’ can be my quick responses when I snap over something inconsequential.
So often it comes down to the perspective you take in each day or even each hour. Are you viewing your own reactions as indicators of being a bad parent or of the need to get some more sleep or fresh air? Do your children’s behaviours get interpreted as deliberate manipulation? Or are they the actions of a child learning to interact in this world? Start to become aware of how you are thinking and find those perspectives that propel you forward instead of keeping you trapped.
You are a good mother. Find ways to remind yourself of that frequently. Remind your friends too. We are on this motherhood journey together.
MOPS Australia Managing Director
Jodi spends her days sharing words of encouragement for women in leadership, finding her way through the beautiful mess of parenting and relationships, and geeking out on technology. She is the author of the book ‘Stepping Up In Leadership’, a speaker and the Managing Director for MOPS Australia. Find more inspiritment at jokoepke.com.