I constantly doubt myself as a mother and feel like a bad mom, and I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this, you do too.
If I raise my voice because the first 20 times I asked nothing happened. If I tell her, no, you can’t climb to the top of the tree for fear she will break something and she gets mad at me. If I say “give me a minute” once again because I’m trying to cook dinner and I know she just wants to show me the thing she’s coloring, again, and things will burn if I go.
Basically, any time I have to put other needs in front of my daughter’s, potentially hurting her feelings, I feel like a failure.
But, what does it mean to be a good mom? Mothers who are nurturing, caring, and take care of their children, their families, and their friends are good mothers are thought of as good mothers. Fostering a child’s security and well-being are also the prime responsibilities of a good mom.
A mother can “nurture” in a variety of ways, however, and that’s where things get a little subjective.
What it Means to “Nurture” Your Child is Inconsistent
Are you a good mom if you expose them to as many things as possible, music, sports, hobbies, etc., because how will they find the thing they like if you don’t introduce them to things? Or are you a good mom if you don’t overschedule them and let them discover their likes and dislikes on their own, to forge their own path?
Are you a good mom if you keep your children away from all the now old-fashioned childhood norms that we now know are harmful? Or are you a good mom if you’re flexible about what your kids eat and drink and do with others so that they can “enjoy” their childhood fully?
Are you a good mom if you ensure your children are being stimulated with appropriate activities, and if you’re filling their attention cup? Or are you a good mom if you allow them to be bored and develop their imagination and become comfortable with themselves?
Are you attentive or too controlling?
Are you supposed to be fun or a rule setter?
Should you protect their sense of self, or ensure they’re not being annoying to others?
Is it better to be flexible or to plan three months in advance?
How much is too much? How much is too little?
See the problem?
Backseat Parents Want to Tell You How You’re Harming Your Child
Not only is the whole “nurturing” thing full of contradictions, but even the security and well-being of your child is constantly being put down by “friends,” family, and every person on the internet.
Everyone and their uncle will want to tell you exactly how they would do things differently and you doing [insert parenting activity or decision here] is straight-up hurting your child.
Cloth diapering? Wrong! Disposable diapering? Wrong!
Cosleeping? Wrong! Letting them to cry it out in the crib? Wrong!
Bottlefeeding? Wrong! Pumping at work? Wrong!
Hospital birth? Wrong! At-home birth? Wrong!
Purees? Wrong! Baby-led weaning? Wrong!
Ignoring their tantrum? Wrong! Giving in or leaving the store to calm their tantrum? Wrong!
Potty training before they are ready? Wrong! Not being potty trained after three? Wrong!
The list goes on and on and on!
What to Do if You’re Struggling as A Mom
So, with all that crap in your head, if you’re struggling as a mom, as I believe we all do, here’s the deal — there’s no winning the title of “good mom” because someone, likely even yourself, will always be telling you you’re a bad mom from time to time.
It is what it is.
So, what can do? Just know — and I mean really understand it, write it down somewhere if it helps — that you’ll never be a good mom all of the time, but you can always keep working on being a better mom.
Four Ways to Be a Better Mom
1. Embrace the Messiness of Life with Children
Some of us need more order around us, but it helps to accept the inevitability of the chaos that invades our home, our car, and our purse when we have children.
Do what you can, but don’t hate your home or yourself for not being on the cover of a home magazine.
One day they will be out on their own, and your house will be still once more.
2. Take a Quick Look at What You and Your Children Have Done Today
We often focus on the things our children need to learn or do or be better at. It’s a blessing and curse as moms to see our children with x-ray vision.
One day, while I was a stay-at-home mom and felt like NOTHING ever got done, I opened a notebook and jotted down the things my daughter had done that day and the things I had done. Wow!
I was unprepared for how many good things there were, how much more cooperation there was than fights, how much more they learned than I thought, and how much more I was doing than I thought I was.
Give the notebook a try yourself, you may be surprised.
3. Remember This is a Life in Progress
Your body will change, your kids will grow, and you’ll feel sometimes as if you are going forward and sometimes as if you are stuck.
It can feel messy and chaotic and not at all what you thought your life would be like.
I promise you, they will not be asking to sleep in your bed or wearing training pants in college. You’ll get there.
Watch what happens — you never know how it will turn out!
4. Love and Forgive Yourself
Forgive yourself for yelling or being impatient, for overeating or undereating, for not getting everything done on your list, for your less than perfect birth, for breastfeeding too long or not long enough or for not breastfeeding at all, for doing this or that “wrong” – just say, “it’s okay, I’ll try again tomorrow.”
The people who love you (especially your children) will love both your imperfections as well as your strengths, just as you do theirs.
So, what’s my point? Well, first off, I hope that hearing all this makes your day a little easier! I know I’ve been the one Googleing how to be a better mom on occasion, and any words of solidarity helped.
But my point is also that, you do have some control in the chaos; strive to be a better mom, as outlined above, and know that you’ve got this.