• jordenlmackin

Good-Enough Mom

Many days, I find myself reflecting and wondering, am I being a good mom? I think this is something most mothers question, and it opens up a whole can of worms, such as, what does it even mean to be a good mom? I'm sure if you were to ask, you'd find people have all sorts of definitions of what it means to be a good mom, and just like with so many things in life, some of those definitions most likely contradict each other. I'm not sure there is one universal definition or set of qualities that make up a good mom.

So, when I'm reflecting on the status of my mothering ability I can really only base my conclusions on my personal opinions and expectations, and therein lies the problem. I'm 5 years into being a mother, and I often find my reality doesn't match up with my expectations, and I think that's in part because, my expectations about parenting formed before I ever had children. It's so easy to have an idyllic view of motherhood when you haven't yet experienced it. It's not to say I was completely naive about the challenges of motherhood, it's just, you don't know what you don't know. The fact is, I'm not the same person I was when I was forming my opinions and expectations of motherhood, because the act of becoming a mother has changed me in ways I couldn't predict.

I love the thought at the moment of birth, it is not only the baby being born, but it is also the mother being born, and I feel this is true for all mothers, not just first time mothers. Just like we aren't quite sure who are baby is going to be, we can't be quite sure who we will be as mothers either, although, I know we all have our ideas about how we'd like it go.

Just recently, I've been feeling some disappointment that I haven't lived up to some of my mothering expectations, and it is difficult to admit because it feels like some sort of short-coming on my part. I'm in a place now where I'm coming to terms with it though, and I've realized just because I'm reacting differently to certain situations then I thought I would, doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong or being a bad parent. My therapist used to talk to me a lot about how I needed to stop chasing perfection, and how there's no such thing as a perfect parent. I agree with her. I don't even know if there's such a thing as a good parent, what I'm striving for instead is to be a "good enough" parent. When I frame things with this perspective it becomes a lot easier to see any perceived short-comings as just differences in my reality versus my expectation.

Some times our reality and expectations line up just right, and that feels great, and sometimes they don't line up, but it doesn't mean we are bad parents. When this disconnect happens, it's okay to feel upset for a moment, but then you must give yourself permission to be curious about it and reflect on it so you can process the emotions and get over it. My point is, if you find yourself mothering differently than you thought you would, or making different decisions than you thought you would, it's okay. We all are just doing the best we can with the circumstances we are given, and that's all any us can really do. Plus, if you're spending any energy worrying about all this stuff, chances are you're doing just fine, and you're a good enough parent.

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