Thursday, November 11, 2010

A good mother

What makes a good mother?

I’ve been reading the Her Bad Mother blog for a few weeks now. My first reaction when skimming through the posts was, “I’m not a bad mother!”, but the more I read and understood Catherine's reasoning's I am proud to say, “ I AM a bad mother!”. (Read her full Manifesto for more info).

I am guilty for trying to be a perfect mother. For getting stressed out and crying over things that didn’t go as planned. For stressing my Hubby out for not doing things perfect. For thinking that everything that I read about caring for baby the proper way would be easy. For believing that I could be perfect.

Things have changed and I’ve learned the hard way that it really is impossible to be perfect. Instead, I have fostered the “do what’s best for you” approach and I am happy to share these foundations with other mothers.

When I wanted more sleep, I brought a nursing baby into bed with us. Now when my toddler wakes in the night we often let him sleep in bed with us. I’ve let my baby cry it out. I’ve rocked him to sleep. The list goes on and on. Professionals would label me a bad mother, but according to me, in doing these things I am a good mother because I do what’s best for my son and what works for us as a family.

Catherine from Her Bad Mother wrote an (amazing) post this week in response to an article in The Wall Street Journal by Erica Jong titled, "Mother Madness". The gist of Ms. Jong's article is that modern motherhood is like prison.

I don't feel like I am in prison. I have made all of these choices because I want to and want to do the best for my child. There is so much judgment out there about mothering and parenting. I feel judged when I talk to mothers that have a much more relaxed or go-with-the-flow parenting style than me. I’ve felt like I needed to defend myself on more than one occasion when they made it seem like I was going too above and beyond my duties, trying too hard or perhaps trying to out-do them. I could see them rolling their eyes and labeling me as one of those mothers. Yes, I try to be a great mom and yes, I was blessed to have been able to carry through with some of the so-called perfect mother qualities. I gave birth naturally. I breastfed. I made all of my son’s baby food. And I happen to be very proud of these things. So shoot me or better yet, lock me up!

I am much more reserved when speaking with other Mom’s unless I already know that they have the same values as me. It shouldn’t be like that. I should be able to talk about these things in confidence. But instead I feel ashamed for what comes off as bragging or trying to be perfect.

There really should be more out there about “doing what’s best for you and your child”. We need to remind mothers that being perfect is impossible. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being “the best that I can be”. That’s what I strive for. I want to be the best mother that I can be for little E. I want to give him the best life.

I am a bad mother, and therefore I am a good mother. Thank you, Catherine, for pointing this out and reminding me to remain confident in my decisions.

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely inspiring! As a new mother of a now 7 month old little girl, I can relate to nearly every sentence in this post.
    I too have learned the hard way - and with the advice of a certain friend blogger that it is important to do what works for you, your child, and your family - it just has to work, it doesn't have to be perfect. I have found myself in situations where I am proud to speak of our routines and high standards at home for our child and how we are able to make that possible. For example, we/I insist on feeding our girl home made baby food for many reasons, and often am questioned with a judgmental tone "Why?"... I think things are much different now than they were for generations passed. Some of us new Mom's have high standards because we want the best for our children, why wouldn't we as parent's do our personal best to see that they have it?
    Our family is very structured and our daughter does well with this lifestyle. She sleeps well, she's extremely happy - always smiling... and yet even with a beautiful example of a happy, healthy child, I still find myself defending my strict parenting style or questioning my own decisions. I am often told or "encouraged" to be more relaxed with our daughter's schedule because "She'll be fine", and a more relaxed schedule works better for others. I don't want to raise a child who is "fine". I want her to be full of happiness, and love, to have good morals and to be respectful, intelligent and to trust in our love and consistency as a family etc. etc...(I could go on forever)
    All that matters is that we give our best to our children, and it's enough for them, so it's enough for me and my family. In order to do this we have to be confident in our decisions & actions as mother's. Being a parent, in my opinion is the most important job a person could have, and is the most rewarding. Unfortunately, because of it's significance, it is a position which often attracts a great deal of attention, commentary, and judgement. I will admit, it has taken me time to learn to shrug it off, and I do struggle with it at times still. With this said, there are also times my insight and strict regime at home has been praised and admired. Love this post. Incredibly insightful, especially for new Moms. Thanks for sharing! :)