I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes I look at other moms and wish I could be more like them.
You see that mom calmly talking her obstinate toddler down from a tantrum? Yeah, I’m nothing like her. Or that mom who’s organizing school fundraisers, hosting epic birthday parties, and driving all over the planet for that sold-out Elsa costume? I’m not like her either.
I’m a yelly mom, an insecure mom, and a serious mom. And even though I’m also a loving mom, a devoted mom, and a mom who’s undoubtedly trying her best, I can’t help but wonder whether my best is good enough.
“I worry about that all the time,” my friend and mom of three admitted, “I ask myself whether this will screw them up or if that will. Any minute I feel like someone’s going to swoop in and pull my mom card because I’m screwing up so bad.”
“How do we ever know we’re doing a good job?” she asked, “Are we just supposed to wait and see how they turn out and hope for the best? By then it’s too late!”
Our exchange left me wondering about our measure of success in motherhood. Are there “good job, mom” whispers like tiny gold stars to be collected along the way? And if there are, what do they look and sound like? Are they good grades or a “please” and “thank you?” Can they be found in our children’s caring hearts, boundless ambition, or desire to do the right thing? Or do we really have to wait until they’re grown to somehow know for sure?
I reached out to my fellow moms for their measures of maternal success and this is what they said:
“I think I know I’m doing a good job when I’m exhausted beyond belief, my kid is fed, worn out & with a smile on his face, I tuck him into bed with a hug & kiss & his response is typically ‘I love you’ or ‘thank you for being a good mom.’ Even though my husband & I may be worn out, we know everything’s going to be okay when our son shows thanks, love, & empathy.” — Jennifer
“Earlier today, I asked my son a question that I’ve been puzzling over. His answer was thoughtful, practical, and witty, and I thought, ‘Yes! I’m doing this right.'” — Lane
“It is so hard to gauge. You’re just SO in it. I think we are made to thrive off resolution and sometimes in parenting there isn’t any, or not for months or years. Sometimes you just feel like it’s all a shot on the dark. Small victories are all I have sometimes. But sometimes that’s all you need to get you through.” — Sarah
“Parenting is a hard, personal, and often criticized job. I don’t think there is a ‘right’ way. Everyone is different, making parenting styles different. I think if you are wondering if you are doing a good job, chances are that you are. You are self-aware enough to be observing your parenting and the effects. I think it is a rare thing to have that sense of good parenting come directly from your little one. I get the sense of accomplishment by hearing positive things from other adults or witnessing my children making independent, positive decisions.” — Mary
“I don’t think you truly know until they have grown up and are taking care of themselves, and their own families if they have them. For now, I am happy when others compliment my kids on how well-behaved they are.” — Michelle
“I know being a good mom doesn’t always predict how their children will be as adults (although sometimes it does). I know some wonderful parents whose children had addictions and wound up in jail and terrible parents whose children became missionaries. It’s a complicated question!” — Anna
It is a complicated question, but what if the answer doesn’t need to be so hard?
Mamas, if we can sit here and confidently proclaim that we’re loving our very best, I have to believe our children feel loved. And isn’t that bigger and better than any good grade brought home or compliment received? Raising a child who feels loved might mean more than just a measure of success; it might mean everything.More On