Last week, I was standing in my front yard with my dogs when our neighbor’s dog wandered over to us. It was cold and I didn’t know how long she’d been outside so I picked her up (she knows me. We dogsit for her) and brought her home. Because it was only two houses down and I had no intention of going inside for a visit, I left the child inside, by herself for the whole 5 minutes I was gone. While talking to my neighbor, I let him know that the child was home by herself and I needed get back and also that “I’m a terrible mother for leaving her alone”.
That last comment has stuck with me since then.
Because the truth of it is, I’m not a terrible mother.
And neither are you.
Despite what all the blogs and Pinterest and news stories and Facebook groups would have you believe.
Motherhood has become this horrible competition filled with unattainable, arbitrary standards that leave even the most seemingly perfect mother filled with anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and also sometimes rage. I suppose there’s always been some sort of competition among mothers, and some animosity between working mothers and stay at home mothers, but with social media (or perhaps just our current societal culture), it’s become an all out war.
I’m over it.
So I’m going to break some things down for you and clear up some all too common misconceptions we moms believe about ourselves.
- Whether you use cloth diapers or disposable, you are a good mother.
- Whether you cook from scratch every night or feed your kids takeout, you are a good mother.
- Whether your kids go to public school or private school or are homeschooled, you are a good mother.
- Whether you bottle fed or breast fed, you are a good mother.
- Whether you have a Pinterest worthy home or it’s in desperate need of a cleaning, you are a good mother.
- Whether you bake and do crafts and have endless ways to keep your children occupied or you let them watch TV, you are a good mother.
- Whether you have 10 kids or 1, you are a good mother.
- Whether you work part-time, full-time, have a nanny or stay home, you are a good mother.
- Whether you lost the baby weight immediately or you’ve hung on to a few extra pounds, you are a good mother.
- Whether you look perfectly put together or have worn the same yoga pants for so many days in a row the elastic is starting to give, you are a good mother.
- Whether you’re strict or laid back, you are a good mother.
I could go on. I won’t because the list would be more extensive than anyone would probably care to read so for the sake of brevity and also making you not hate me, I’ll stop there.
Now. With that said, let me break down for you what makes a bad mother so that when you go to think you’re not enough, you can say “hey, self. Remember that list you read on that random blog post that detailed the qualities of a shitty parent? You don’t do that and while you’re frustrated and maybe not the best you can be today, you’re still a damn good mom!”
A bad parent (read: not you) does this:
- Neglects her children, emotionally, physically, medically, educationally
- Abuses her children, physically, emotionally
- Consistently endangers her children’s safety (ex., bringing them on a drug deal)
Do you do any of that? I’m 100% confident you do not.
Which means, contrary to what the internet might tell you, you’re doing just fine as a parent.
Being a mom is so much more than how we look, what we feed our kids, and how beautiful our home is.
Being a mom is about how you make your kids feel.
And if they’re happy (most of the time because let’s face it, kids can be moody little shits), you’re doing just fine.
So give yourself a big hug and a Stuart Smalley affirmation and tell yourself you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and damn it, you’re a good mother. Hell, you’re a great mother. The best one your kids have got.