So often I feel as though I’m failing as a mother. I find myself obsessing over a long list of indictments, like I don’t spend enough time with my children. They never have matching socks. I didn’t breastfeed long enough. I went back to full-time work too soon. They have too many breakfast dinners.
And at the heart of it, what I’m really worried about is this often all-consuming question:
Am I a good mother?
I know a lot of you mothers out there can relate – we seem to pour over the smallest and most insignificant things, recriminating ourselves for the most minor infractions – and the bigger ones we just never let go of.
Well. I am just totally over mother-guilt. I have decided that when I ask myself that question when things have gone wrong, I am going to answer it with: YES. I am a good mother. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Yet I am a good mother.
So in that spirit I thought I’d share a list of things I am proud of doing, that I think make me a good Mum. Hopefully there are lots more things than what I’ve listed, but these are the things I am particularly proud of. I hope it encourages all of you out there with kids to do just the same.
I know my children
This is easier with some than with others. I like to joke that Bookworm is indeed the proverbial open book while Picasso is a coded message and Little Miss is an overhead projector. There’s usually no problem knowing exactly how Bookworm and Little Miss think and feel – in fact it’s impossible not to know – but it is harder with Picasso. I need to – and do – try very hard to know what’s going on with him. And I think I do. I know what they like and don’t like, what makes them scared and happy, their hopes and fears, what makes them laugh and what makes them sad. I know their little hearts, how they think, their strengths and their weaknesses.
I make space for creativity
I can’t count the amount of times I let them take out the pots and pans and play music shops even though it did my head in. Or use the garlic press for playdoh and then had to buy another one. Or let them empty all the cupboards so they could climb inside and play cubby house. I have cupboards full of craft and paints and bits of cut-up paper and even though it makes a huge mess I always try and say yes when they ask to drag it all out. The downside of this is that my house is pretty messy, and I try not to care.
I try to parent thoughtfully
Now I’ve said “try”, because of course I don’t do this all the time. But generally if things aren’t working, or there’s a pattern of behaviour I don’t like, or I’m yelling too much, I try to think about what’s not working, and then try something else. When making decisions – like when or how we’re going to school, where we’re going on holidays or how we’re going to make a pocket money system, I do try and think about what larger goal we’re trying to achieve. That we’re bringing up little people who will one day be big people – and I want those people to be compassionate, thoughtful and living lives of integrity and fulfillment.
I actively foster a sense of “belonging”
We belong. It’s as simple as that. A couple of weeks ago Bookworm came home pretty upset because he’d had a fight with some friends that hadn’t ended well. We talked it through and hugged and prayed and then we all had a fun night together, which I think gave him the strength to face the next day (and sort it all out, which, luckily, usually happens). I always want home to be a secure place, a safe and welcoming haven where it doesn’t matter what’s happened to you in the big, bad world, you can come home to people who love you unconditionally.
We are explicit about our values
We have family values we try and live by, and I like this about us. They are all about loving and respecting each other, trying our best, valuing our faith and living a purposeful life.
I would love to hear what you are proud of as Mums – I know all of your lists will be different, and that’s just the way it should be. Let’s celebrate us!