Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

What Makes a Good Mom?

Letting a baby play with a plastic bag probably wouldn't qualify as good Motherhood.

This last week my chest felt like it was in a vise, but not from anything physical.  I was fighting off anxiety over the kids’ crazy baking schedule.  Brownies for Tall Girls’ class on her birthday, stollen for Sweetie Pie’s class on her “Share a Bread” day, and gingerbread cookies for Art Girl for her presentation on family traditions.  I tried to convince Art Girl that our new family tradition was hiding in bed trying to ignore all the coloured sheets of paper in her backpack announcing more school “FUN!!!”, but she didn’t buy it.

I know what you’re saying.  “So, Mrs. Busypants, just say no.”  But no one wants to be the Mom whose kid doesn’t bring the treats on her birthday, who’s presentation didn’t include the snacks that the student teacher suggested that you could provide (in a letter to the whole class, by the way.)   Motherhood has become a competitive sport with kids as our proxy players.

But why?  How did things get like this?   This debate was brought to my mind by the whole “Never worked a day in her life” kerfuffle.  Which then reminded me of the times when I was out with my stay-at-home mom peers and heard that Moms with nannies, “don’t love their kids as much as us.”  And the time my friend worried aloud if her son’s autism was due to the TV she let him watch.  Or the sadness I felt reading that Veronique at Vie de Cirque she went to Grad school in part over feeling “that (she) was a rather lousy mother,” (which I totally don’t get because her blog always makes me feel like a couch potato slacker.)

This self-loathing coupled with drive-by character assassination and the endless busy-busy-busy, is due I’m sure to that the fact that are target is worse than just moving.  It flies around the room like a laser pointer piloted like a toddler, landing on everything for exactly 3 milliseconds.  There is no consensus on what makes a good Mother.  When is your job done?  What do you owe those little angels of yours?  A college education?  A Tiger Mother study schedule?  Non-stop “advocating” until they are placed in the gifted class?  A TV?  Trans-fat free diet?  Perfect spank-free discipline delivered in a monotone voice?  Three meals a day and roof over their heads?  Lots of money?  Frugality and simplicity?  Really, I ask what?

And God forbid if you get it wrong.  Your adult children have the licence to go on about how their mistakes in life are somehow due to you.  (Thanks Dr. Freud!)  And that’s what we’re fighting against:  someone someday looking at our messed up offspring and thinking “what kind of bad mother let’s that happen?”  After all the sleepless nights, the money spent, the stretch marks from here to your ankles, this is what just might come your way:  a judgement of failure.  You should have done more.  What that more might be, that’s not so forthcoming.  But judgement, as a society we’ve got loads of that.

What makes a good Mom?  You try your best with what you have.  Period.  Really, what more can anyone do?  But more importantly, we are about to pass this toxic hate cult on to the next generation.  I’m not sure how happy I’ll feel watching my daughters fall as casualties in the Mommy Wars.  While I’m not sure where this all began, I feel deep down in my bones that this is where is all should end.  I believe we need to have a conversation on the Philosophy of Motherhood.  As a society children are now (mostly) fed, clothed and sheltered.  We need to look at the opportunities this affluence has given us and decide what we are going to do with it.

Because I can’t believe that God and nature intended Motherhood to be a guilt laden taxi-service marathon, and until we figure out otherwise, that’s just what it’s going to continue to be.

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6 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Mom?

  1. Here’s all you need to know. When your children need you (really need you with every ounce of their being) they come to you. That’s when you know you are a good mom. If they can talk to you when they need someone to talk to, you’ve done a good job. It has nothing to do with your relationship with anything (cookies, job, volunteering, other mommies, etc.) outside of your child (that is all about you), so let some of that go if it’s taking away from time spent with your kids and talk, talk, talk . . . solidify those bonds of trust and respect.You seem like the kind of mom who has great relationships with her kids, keep that up and forget about all the superficial fluff that clutters up motherhood.

    • Okay — I guess if a Worrywart says I don’t need to worry, than I really shouldn’t.

      But seriously, I want to thank you for your insight as someone who would be classified a “successful mom” (kids off on Peace Corp and all.) All new moms get is the stuff in magazines and on TV which is mostly ads and ads dressed up as editorials, and too many latest-scare stories. Somewhere we lost the voice of the experienced women who can tell us to stop rushing and start connecting.

  2. Amen, Liz!

    Posts like this one are my favorite thing about the blogosphere: a space where we can come together and have that conversation about the philosophy of motherhood. And I’ve found that good conversations I’ve had here have helped me have good conversations with the moms I see day-to-day or, at least, have helped me feel more confident in making a choice that doesn’t conform to what is often expected of us.

    • Thanks Kristen! I love your blog too about these issues. It’s great to be able to meet other moms who are struggling with what we are really trying to do now that the basics are being met.

      Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

  3. Great post Liz! I agree with everything, especially your last paragraph: “guilt-laden taxi-service marathon”? Yeah, check. My husband and I were talking about useful skills and how our children didn’t have many (like cooking, sewing, gardening, plumbing etc.) Sometimes it seems like the only life skill we are teaching them is to be driven around…

    Although I do feel sorry for making you feel like a couch potatoe. I have many (many) faults but being a couch potatoe is not one of them. I am more of a hyper potatoe… which has its own set of challenges! 🙂

    • Thanks Veronique! Hyper potatoe sounds like something from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! LOL Please don’t feel sorry — just remember this when you feel like you aren’t doing a good “Mom” job! I hope I didn’t make you feel bad for feeling bad that you felt bad….oh you know what I mean 😉

      You’re right about useful skills and kids. I try to get the kids to do stuff, but there is not a lot of time to teach things, and everything you could want is $4.99 at a discount store. What is going to happen if overseas manufacturing stops being so cheap, and we have to start making our own stuff again? Yikes….

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