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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Am I a Good Mother?

Written by Amy, a mom without a blog

“A dutiful mother is someone who follows every step her child makes.”

“A good mother is someone whose child wants to follow her.”

Quoted from the current novel I’m reading entitled
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult. This quote stuck with me. It really stuck.

Would my kids want to follow me? I have to look long and hard at myself to honestly answer that question.

Would they want to follow me?

Am I a good mother?

By whose standards are we trying to answer this question? I think this band of women called mothers is sometimes no band at all. As a matter of fact, sometimes I think this band is a group of our worst enemies. And it all comes down to COMPARISONS. 

Why do we compare our job performance when it comes to mothering? And by what standard do we use to measure this? It seems like Mother-land would be a much better place if women around the cul-de-sac reached out to support, lift up and love each other as women and as fellow mothers and not to compare ourselves and our children with each other to the extent that we do.

Comparisons - they are everywhere.

On the playground … your child can cross the monkey bars; mine cannot.

In our neighborhood … my child can ride a bike; yours cannot.

In our school … so and so’s child is in the top reading group; why isn’t mine?

At church … that child is sitting quietly while mine is misbehaving.

In the grocery store … I have sugar cereal in my basket; she's got bunny shaped bran flakes.

In restaurants … tantrum deluxe vs. sitting and eating appropriately.

We have all been on both sides of the fence. In one situation our child acts like a perfect angel and in another, ours is the one that we want to deny is our child. I am very guilty of this, but when I sit and think about the purpose it serves to constantly compare what we’re doing vs. what our neighbor is doing vs. how my kids behave vs. how her kids behave, really, who cares? We are all in this together. We are all trying our very best to raise independent, competent, real, loving human beings and does it really matter what everybody else is doing? If they jumped off the proverbial parenting bridge, would I?

So am I a good mother?

Would my children want to follow me?

My answer is…I’m a work in progress.

But I can tell you this. The next time I get on the comparison merry-go-round, I’m going to get off and hope I have some little feet behind me.


  1. I HATE comparisons. It is really happening a lot lately, as school gets out and kids are placed for next year.

    I try so hard not to do it, but I think it's human nature.

    One thing I can kids follow me every time I head into the bathroom.

    Am I taking this too literally? ;)

    Great post, Amy!

  2. My answer you your question is unless you beat, starve or constantly ridicule your children, the answer is a resounding yes!

    You are the best mother that you know how to be. We are all a product of how our parents raised us and how theirs raise them. It's what we KNOW.

    I agree 100% to everything you said. The only way are kids are going to survive and be honest hardworking adults is if we go back to the way it was when we were kids. Village raising a child.

    Rest assured. You are a good mother, we are all works in progress. We willmake mistakes, learn form them,move on and do things differently the next time the situation comes up.

    Still, kids should have been born with a water tight manual in the palcenta when they are born!

  3. We are definitely a work in progress, as are our kids! No kid is perfect - I try to remember that when mine are doing something that makes me want to crawl under a rock.

  4. Well said. Thankfully, I was a teacher before being a parent,and I had so many conversations with parents about letting their kids go at their I attempt to allow my own kids to do the same!

  5. Kids usually only follow me when I want to be alone :-)

  6. wish we could 'order' our kids to have the best of one trait from column A and one from column B.

    My girls are me in miniature. Poor things.

  7. GREAT post!

    I'm reading Handle with Care too...just a sidenote.

    I love that quote.

    I think it comes down to comparison based on insecurity. I just wrote a post yesterday on this subject and talked there about how we're all good and bad at the same time. To compare is so defeating. I love the analogy you've left us with at the end of this post. I want to stay off the merry-go-round too.

  8. Excellent timing on your post. I've been beating myself up all day over a camp issue with Youngest this morning - seems three hours is just way too long to be away from mommy, and he let the coaches know about it. Luckily Older brother was there, but ugh.

    Do you think he's scarred for life?

    Kidding, sort of :-)

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

  9. Measuring sticks came to mind when I read this post! We hold our own measuring stick out for not just our children, but everyone else we encounter in our day-to-day lives. It takes a conscience effort on my part to put my measuring stick away. Who am I to judge someone? Who am I to compare and rate someone? Yet it happens without thinking sometimes, and I don't like that.

    One thing that my parents did that helped me want to follow them and then branch out on my own is they reinforced the idea of only looking within. How do I measure up with my own expectations? Their example (and the examples set in many works of literature that I read during childhood and adolescence) really showed me the path to take.

    As a mother I need to continue on this path of intraspective thinking for myself and think about the beauty in each child I observe interacting with my children. I hope my daughters will follow my example and learn to look at their path and where it is going, comparing only oneself with the person we strive to be every day.

  10. oh amy, amy... i think about this a lot, and this is what i have figured out: we all want to do what is the absolute RIGHT thing as mothers. so when we encounter moms that are doing things differently, and claiming to be right... then we must be wrong. if working outside of the home is right, then staying at home must be wrong. if breastfeeding is right, bottle feeding must be wrong. i think this is the fundamental thinking that gets us, as women, into trouble. we certainly don't want to be doing the wrong thing for our children! god forbid!

    of course, the logical thinking is that there are as many ways to mother as there are moms. and they are right for them and the kids they raise. period.

    as they say, there are many, many ways to skin a cat. and i am skinning my cat by letting him play video games before bed instead of studying for his final exam that is tomorrow morning. am i right or am i wrong?

    great post... way to get us all thinking!

  11. So, so thought provoking, Ames.

    The whole comparison/competitive issue is HUGE for moms. I constantly wonder...was is such a big thing for our own moms? It's really hard for me to picture my mom sitting there back when I was a kid and analyzing her mothering to this extent!! Maybe she did, but I really can't imagine it.

    I agree with the others, I think the comparisons often come because we really want to be AMAZING moms. We look at others (sometimes with envy) because we really want to be great at this very important role..."mother."

    Would my kids follow me? Gosh, today probably not. I nearly yelled my lungs out at my boys this evening. Here's the rub...we may not think we are being "good" moms, but our kids DO think so. As long as we give them consistent love and security, that's all that matters. Despite our faults, we love our kids with a rare, primal, deep all-encompassing love. They know that. They really do. And they will follow...

    Sorry for rambling. BTW, I'm reading "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. I'll look for "Handle With Care" when I'm done! :-)

  12. I would. I would jump first then reach over and grab your leg as I fell and pull you down with me. Might be fun.

  13. this is very well written, Amy and so very true. I am too a work in progress.

    BTW I am reading Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult :) I miss you!

  14. My friend, there are so many beautiful points in this poignant post of yours....this being my favorite:

    "We are all in this together. We are all trying our very best to raise independent, competent, real, loving human beings and does it really matter what everybody else is doing?"

    We as women and mothers needs to remember this simple truth when our brains jump into comparison mode. We are all in this together trying our best.....

    Thanks for these wise words which will stick with me...

  15. P.S. Wow peeps. I really need to get on board and start reading Jodi Picoult novels!! Everyone else is doing it, I guess I should be too!!


  16. Great post, Amy - you hit the nail square on the head, lady - why do we drive ourselves so INSANE with obsessing on everyone else and everyone else's kids? Nothing distracts us from what is really important (our own home and everyone in it) like peeking over the fence into the neighbor's yard and burning with envy over their PERCEIVED perfect life.

  17. Ms Amy, I think your posts are just getting better and better! I too work on this issue, but I think I am making strides. Ironically, it took having my first child who has different needs than other kids to really stop wanting what others have, and loving what I have. I am the other side of the coin. I am the mother with the child who is NOT sitting still at dinner, or is having a meltdown at the store. And I can tell you, it sucks when other people stare at you in horror as if you are a terrible parent. You can just see the thoughts scrolling through their minds..."Well, if that was my kid I would (fill in the blank). But what they don't know or see is all the blood, sweat and lots and lots of patience it has taken to even get your child to that point. So the next time you see someone with a child that has to stand next to the table or is just having a hard time, remember that poor parent is thinking "Why isn't my kid (fill in the blank)", and instead of judging offer a smile!

  18. P.S. Lee, the best Jodi Picoult book is My Sister's Keeper. Read it before the movie comes out because I don't know if it will translate as well. I have read her others but by far My Sister's Keeper is at the top!

  19. You know I cried my lungs out because I am thinking I am not the best mother I can be. My oldest daughter is very mature for her age (5.5 years old). She has a tendency to get 'too' attached to a friend and if something goes wrong with that relationship she gets very hurt. I am questioning myself about this issue a lot...maybe I see myself in her...maybe I was in her shoes in those ages and I know how much it hurts. But then maybe this is all normal for that age and I have to see it as a growing process...after all I did not turn out some isolated asocial any of you have this guilty ...painful feelings sometimes that your children bring back to you from your childhood??


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