Recently I have been having a discussion with myself about what makes a good mom. I realize I need to own a truth: Lately, I cringe at the phrase, “You are such a good mom.” I hear it often, and I say it to others — sounds like a robot at times.
Picture this: Moms are gathered for weekday brunch. Kiddos are happily romping in the play area. One mom, Sarah, takes a sip of iced coffee and gazes as a little boy gleefully glides by in a ketchup-stained shirt with unkempt hair. He coughs and sneezes. Sarah quickly excuses herself and calls for a team meeting with her littles. She gives them another short lecture on germs. She rubs their hands down with the conveniently provided wipes. She takes a few extra and wipes down some of the play equipment. Sarah rejoins the moms. She counts on one hand how many times her children have gotten ill since she started using these new healing leaves. Another mom, Sally, reassures Sarah. “Listen mama, those are your babies. Mamas are brave!” Head nodding in unison occurs around the table. Sally goes on. “Sarah, you are such a good mom. Thanks for cleaning that bench, too, by the way.” Sarah beams.
The moms keep one eye on the kiddos and each take turns sharing.
Sally: “I am exhausted. I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. finishing Colt’s birthday cake. I am so excited; the cake moves!!”
Samantha: “I saw your post, Sally! You are such a good mom. Oh, look at the time! I need to pick up Suri’s recital dress. Tonight she has a piano recital, a soccer game, and pageant practice.”
Sasha: “Oh my goodness, Samantha! You are suuuch a good mom. How do you do all of that and manage to look like a beauty queen yourself?! It’s all I can do to keep up with little bear’s traveling karate team. We have spent thousands, and it is finally paying off! Ziek won the congeniality trophy in the past two tournaments!”
Sarah: “Sasha! That is amazing! Oh my gosh. He will get a scholarship for sure. You are such a good mom!”
The moms finish conversations, gather kiddos, and schedule the next brunch. Each mom is affirmed. Each mom is officially such a good mom because the other moms said so.
Exaggeration much, but conversations like these exist among many — daily. Personally, I think they can be pressure inducing. Maybe Sarah spends all of her money on healing leaves to impress her friends. Maybe Sally works on decorations to escape play time with Colt. Maybe Samantha lives vicariously through Suri. Maybe Ziek never does homework. I don’t know. Maybe.
Creating, engaging, and investing in the lives of our children is absolutely meaningful. To each her own. I am certainly not here to say what is important and what is not. I just want to dig a little deeper for myself. I want to step away from the conversations that define what a good mom is based on the outward. There is more. Regardless of how we perform or execute our duties and desires in motherhood, what do we really believe? What do we teach? What do we model? What is left when the veil is raised? I know many mothers fighting a good fight of faith, battling death and disease, separations and divorces, empty bank accounts and the anxieties of more life struggles. Sometimes their children are not afforded opportunities of piano and karate, extravagant birthdays, and self-healing leaves. Yet, these moms, such good moms, still find ways to care for their children, teach them life lessons, love them with hugs and kisses, and let them grow as they nurture and guide them the best they know how. Sometimes life and people are broken, and sometimes that is okay.
I think a good mom makes the sacrificial decision to be present.
Different seasons in motherhood call for different duties and desires. Being present is forever. I asked my sons what they think makes a good mom. My youngest said, “Well, she hugs me. She kisses me. She lets me get in her bed.” Granted he is five, but that is what he said. My oldest, much like his dad and frugal with words, just smiled a great big smile, stretched out both arms, and pointed to me. “You, Mommy!” Then he skipped over and gave me a great big hug. He is six, but for my recent pondering, this is quality research, my friends.