Myths About Being a Good Mom
There are probably no more loaded words in our mothering vocabulary than the term “good mom.” We all want to be one, but often fear we aren’t.
We pour our coffee in the morning and vow that, today, we’ll keep it all together and be a good mom.
We drink wine with our friends on a rare night out and disclose our motherhood failings (not all of them, though) and verbalize our fears that we don’t fall into the category of a good mom.
We see good moms from afar and believe the shiny veneer we see only from the outside. We compare ourselves to these unrealistic expectations, convincing ourselves we’ll never measure up.
But measure up to what?
Truth be told, the women we hold up as role models probably doubt themselves as moms as well.
I’ve never met a woman who proudly and unequivocally is comfortable saying “I am a good mom.” Usually, there are qualifiers around this statement.
“I’m a good mom, but…”
Try saying you’re a good mom.
“I’m a good mom.”
It’s not easy is it?
Something about it feels unnatural to us.
I’m here to start a movement to get women comfortable saying, “I’m a good mom.” Our parenting perspective changes when we internalize this belief.
It may take awhile to shift to this frame of mind, so let’s get going.
To get started, here are 7 myths about being a good mom that need to be busted.
7 MYTHS ABOUT BEING A GOOD MOM
You have to read to your kids everyday.
I’m going to kick this party off right here with a little bragging session. My oldest daughter will be starting law school this fall at Cornell University. That’s Cornell, the Ivy League school. Cornell, one of the top law schools in the country. That Cornell.
So after bragging, confession time: I didn’t read to her every day. I don’t know if I’d even say I read to her most days.
Now, I did read to her and she saw me reading. And visits to the library were a frequent part of our routine during my SAHM days.
We also engaged her and her younger sister in “real” conversations about in depth topics, so there was a lot of mental stimulation in our household.
But reading to her every single day just didn’t happen. And she turned out alright. Not just alright, she turned out to be a driven, academically excelling young woman.
So if at the end of your tiring mom day you don’t have the energy to read a bedtime story, it’s okay. If things got busy during your week and you realize reading hasn’t happened very much, you’re still a good mom.
Release yourself from the absolutist, everyday demand of reading.
Make reading important, set an example, and read to your kids regularly. But it doesn’t have to be every single day.
They’ll be alright, I promise.
You have to cook nutritious homemade meals all the time.
When my middle daughter was home from college recently, I made her a lunch of Shells and White Cheddar. From a box.
As I was cooking she said, “That’s the smell of my childhood.”
I was slightly embarrassed, but mostly nostalgic. I remembered stocking up on prepackaged pastas and easy meals I knew my girls would eat.
You see, I’ve always envied people who consider cooking one of their hobbies. How I wish my hobby was something you have to on a regular basis for your family’s survival.
But no, I don’t like cooking, even though I’ve tried. So I’ve struggled with mother guilt for having a boxed meal be the food that brings back memories for my daughter.
But guess what? My kids are healthy and eat nutritiously on their own as young adults.
So buy fruit for healthy snacks, cut up raw veggies for dipping, use whole grain bread for your toast, and generally make the staples in your cupboard and refrigerator as nutritious as you can.
But if your pasta comes from a box and that’s the smell of your children’s formative years, cringe to yourself a little bit, but realize they’re turning out just fine.
You have to have a well-organized house.
How many laundry management systems have you tried? How many times have you resolved to set up and stick to a cleaning plan to keep your house guest-worthy?
I’m not going to tell you how often I’ve tried these things, not because I don’t want to admit it, but because I have no idea. Let’s just say it’s a bunch.
And none of my attempts have ever worked. None of them. Not even close.
I did a fantastic job last summer of a Marie Kondo-inspired purge and I was sure this time I would keep things cleared out. Nope again.
But does my semi-cluttered house make me any less of a good mom? Not at all. It has nothing to do with how well I have, or have not, parented my children.
So when you see beautiful Instagram posts of homes that look perfect or you envy the blogger behind all pins about organization that make it look so easy, relax.
You’re still a good mom, even if your house needs to be cleaned.
You have to keep your kids on a schedule
My friend Christina who shows up on my blog in posts periodically had her young kids on a schedule extraordinaire. I knew when we could and could not go do things or when she could and could not talk on the phone.
I, on the other hand, flew by the seat of my pants. Every day.
There was no set routine from one day to the next and that was the way I liked it. It made sense to me and helped curb my resentment toward having my autonomy stifled by parenting.
Most people told me I was wrong at the time or tried to convince me if I just tried a schedule like theirs, I would instantly see how much better it was and change my deranged parenting ways. I might not have been confident about everything having to do with being a mom of young kids, but I was sure I secure that a “no-schedule” schedule was best for me.
When I searched for articles to prove my point about how not having a routine is just fine, I had a difficult time finding much to back me up. Most articles are about why you have to have a schedule, how to get one, or how much better your life will be with one.
But when I came across this post from Mamalina, I realized she had summed up my feelings about not having a schedule even better than I could have.
As an older mom, it has literally been decades since I was home with my two older kids. And with my youngest daughter, I went back to work so there was naturally a little more structure to our days.
But 10 Reasons Why We’re a Zero Routine Family would have been the words I would have written during those early years if I’d been a blogger back then. Her points jive with exactly how I felt oh so many years ago.
So find the routines that work for you and hang on against those who think they know what will or won’t make you a good mom. You’re a good mom when you adapt a lifestyle that works for you and your family.
You have to be calm all the time.
This one’s a tough one to justify, but it’s not justification I’m trying to give you.
It’s reassurance you can still be a good mom even if you lose your patience sometimes. Even if “sometimes” is more frequently than you’d like.
It’s how you progress forward in your parenting and how you process these times with your kids that makes the difference.
Because, despite what you might believe from social media or superficial conversations with acquaintances, there is no mom, not even the most centered and mindful, who doesn’t get at least a little out of sorts with her kids now and then. (If you actually know one and have proof of her 100% calm nature 24/7, please send me her info because I want her secrets).
Busting this myth is not to give you carte blanche to flip out on your kids, quite the contrary.
If your motherhood struggles have you overwhelmed to the degree that losing your cool with your kids is happening on a regular basis, in ways you feel are hampering their and your own well-being, consider what steps you can take to get some of your frustrations, anxieties and anger, yes, anger, to a manageable level.
You may need to read a good parenting book, find more time out to create who you are as a woman (add a link here to some other post), or even consider talking to a professional for some guidance.
What I’m talking about here is the unrealistic expectation we put on ourselves that we were “born” to be moms and if we’re good ones, then we’ll easily embrace the rough times. The idea that we can be calm in the midst of the storm, every single time.
Can we be calm sometimes? Yes.
Most of the time? Hopefully.
All the time? No way.
You can still consider yourself a good mom even when you let the storms drag you under for a bit. Hopefully along the mothering journey we learn strategies to brainstorm before the storm and keep some of the hurricanes at bay.
But when you don’t and you know you should have done better, own up to it, with yourself, your partner, and your kids.
These are our parenting “teachable moments” when we share with our children how we always strive to do our best, but sometimes we fail. And when we do, we apologize and make a plan to do better next time.
Our kids learn from our example. So when we don’t set the best one, we use it as an opportunity for us all to learn.
And that, my dear friend, is what makes you a good mom.
You have to put your needs behind everyone else’s.
Let’s just start with a big fat “no” here.
Yes, being a mom inevitably means your needs will be on the back burner quite a bit of the time, especially when your kids are young.
But always putting yourself behind everyone else is a recipe for resentment and that’s a path you don’t want to start walking. It doesn’t lead to a good destination.
What you have to find is your balance between your kid’s needs and yours. Both of them are legitimate.
And, honestly, most of the time, their needs are going to win. That’s just the nature of parenthood.
But it is imperative, not optional, that you find times and ways to meet your needs.
You may think it makes you a good mom to sacrifice all the time, but it’s actually the opposite. Finding time for the parts of your life that make you the amazing human being you are is what will inspire your kids to become the amazing human beings they are.
If you feed your mind and soul with what makes you happy, you can share your excitement about life with your family.
If you’re no longer interested in anything except your kids, you cease to show the world the inherently interesting person you are. To be interesting, you have to be interested.
Because who wants to be raised by a boring, resentful mom? Not any kid I know. And not your child if you want them to grow into a healthy adult with a strong sense of self and their own boundaries.
Because no one enjoys a martyr, so don’t be one.
Give and give and give to your kids. Sacrifice and choose to make them a priority.
But give something to yourself and choose yourself first sometimes.
Your kids will be happier for it because we all know the truth in the phrase “When Mom is happy, everyone is happy.”
You will be completely fulfilled by being a mom.
An even bigger and fatter “no” to this one because it is often connected to the previous myth. You put everyone’s needs behind yours because, hey, what else could you possibly need than to serve up doting mothering on your angelic little ones all day every day?
Now I’m not saying being a mom won’t give you a sense of fulfillment. But it’s important to remember there is a continuum of women and a spectrum of how fulfilling each of them finds motherhood.
And there are times when you yourself will fall at different places along the continuum of “motherhood satisfaction.”
When my first daughter was about five weeks old, I remember telling her dad that being at home with her was all I would ever need. I had previously been in graduate school before she was born and had been trying to decide how to proceed with my education or career direction when she was born.
At that moment, I was sure she was the be all end all of my life and I’d never need or want anything else.
Fast forward to her first birthday and I distinctly remember thinking, “how in the world am I going to keep going this?” I was overwhelmed, tired and completely flummoxed by my role as a SAHM.
I had lost myself and didn’t know how to find me.
I had fallen victim to the myth that being a mom was all I would ever need to feel complete and whole. I was sadly mistaken and the path back to myself wasn’t easy.
So when you hear, read or believe words that if you need anything more than your children you’re not a good mom, don’t believe them. Because those words are wrong.
There is nothing flawed about you if you realize you need a little more in your life than your babies. And if you can’t find someone who agrees with you on this, come hang out with me because I have a feeling we’ll totally get each other.
The list of mom myths is endless. I’m sure as soon as I post this I’ll instantly think of things I want to add and start my list for installment number two.
If you have any myths you believe need busting, please leave a comment because I’m betting other moms need to hear your words of encouragement as well.
And if you need a place to keep track of your mom wins, download my I’m a Good Mom pdf where you can write yourself reminders of your awesomeness as a mother.
Because raising human beings is tough so pat yourself on the back for all the great things you do each day.