Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and how to measure my success at it. Motherhood is the most challenging and rewarding job in the world, but, unlike a typical 9-to-5 gig, you don’t always have defined ways to measure your success. You don’t get quarterly performance reviews from a boss, or opportunities to check in and set goals. Sometimes, this parenting thing feels like one giant crapshoot… a waiting game. You basically just hope for the best and wait to see how things turn out over the next 18+ years. Honestly, it can be a bit nerve-wracking — especially for someone like me who thrives on feedback.
It can be easy to look at the other moms around us and feel like we’re doing it all wrong when they appear to have it all together. But the truth is, we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Despite outward appearances, we all feel like failures from time to time. There seems to be a checklist in my mind of things that “good mothers” do… things like feeding their kids all-organic, well-balanced meals, doing focused educational activities with their children, never losing their tempers and always looking put-together. When I focus on these things, I become disheartened and frustrated and overwhelmed. I often feel like a failure — even though I know deep in my heart that this is not where real success as a mother lies.
So, how do I measure my success as a mother?
It’s in the beautiful, sunny hellos from my daughter when she runs into my arms as excitedly as she would if she were greeting Minnie Mouse at Disneyland.
It’s in the moments when she asks “Just one more song, Mama?” as I tuck her into bed at night.
It’s in those grumpy/sad/angry moments when my toddler snuggles up into the crook of my neck and just asks me to hold her.
It’s in the healthy smoothies for breakfast and the sometimes treats for dessert.
It’s in the kissing of “owies.”
It’s in the reading of that same favorite Little Golden Book for the 13th time in the same day.
It’s in the physical pain I feel when my child is sad.
It’s in the way I would bend over backwards just to make her smile.
My success as a mother is not measured by the choices I make about circumcision or vaccines or the way I gave birth. My success is not measured by how great I might’ve been at mastering a sleep routine or how early my child talked or how quickly she potty trained. My success is not found in my level of toddler culinary expertise or how clean my kitchen floors are. My success is not measured by the clothes I wear or how cute my kid looks when we go to the grocery store.
Even though I am not, nor will I ever be, a “perfect” mother, I am a good mom. I love my child and I try my hardest to make the best choices and create the best childhood I can for her on a daily basis. And at the end of the day? That’s pretty great.
We are good mothers, my friends. And we don’t acknowledge it nearly enough — we focus on our imperfections instead of the things we’re doing right. Set aside your insecurities and parenting shortcomings today and take a moment to appreciate all the wonderful ways that you have been successful as a parent, because I promise you… the list will be longer than you think.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.