Friday, September 9, 2011

What Makes a Good Mom?

Somebody said something to me several months ago and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. I think he meant it as a joke, though I didn't take it as one. I mean, I laughed, but that was because I didn't know how else to react. He really struck a nerve--not that he meant to--but it happened nonetheless.

So what was this statement that haunts me? Well, upon learning how many kids I had (five!!!!), he said that nobody with five kids is going to be a good parent. Okay, honestly, I'm biased here. Those may not have been his exact words, but that's how I heard them. I laughed him off, said something about I'm not doing too bad, in my humble opinion, and the subject was changed.

Anyway, it stayed with me. Everytime my teenager forgets about an assignment, I remember that comment and I think I should've made sure I asked him about every class instead of the idle chit chat about who he saw and what he did.

Everytime my tween shows her painfully shy side, I  remember what he said and think I should've done more to help her become more self-confident so that she knows how amazing she is.

Everytime my six year old shows her temper, I remember it and I think I should've done better in teaching her anger management.

When my preschooler cries over every little thing and acts out at her baby sister, I remember again and I think she's gotten lost in the shuffle and I need to give her more of my time and attention.

When my baby gets sick, I think that I should've done better at sanitizing the house and then maybe those germs wouldn't have reached her.

When I take the time out to write, read or watch a movie, I can't help but feel guilty because I know there's something more important I could be doing with my time. I just can't seem to do it all. The more I try, the more impossible it seems. And these are the moments that statement rears its ugly head once again.

I suppose most parents have doubts about the job they're doing--especially mothers. I mean, we're supposed to be wired to be these wonderful, nurturing, caregivers, right? We're supposed to know what everyone else needs before they do, right? Seriously though, I really have no idea how to guage what a good mother does.

I love my mother more than I can say. She made some real sacrifices to bring me into this world, when it would've been much easier for her to make another choice. She was fifteen when she got pregnant with me. Barely sixteen when she had me. I can't imagine how difficult that must've been for her. She was so sick she spent much of her time in the hospital. Her marriage to my father didn't last beyond the early months of my babyhood-- and then came the rollercoaster of different homes, fathers and a lot of other things I won't go into just now.

Suffice to say, that I had a different plan for my life. I wasn't even sure if I ever wanted to get married, let alone be a parent. I didn't even think I was capable of trusting a man. God had other plans for me though, and I met the only person in the world I could share everything with and not want to run away and hide afterward.

I sobbed when I found out I was going to have our first child. It happened on the same day I found out I got the full scholarship I'd worked so hard for. I was terrified! I didn't know how to be a mother! I wasn't one of those nurturing types that wanted to hold those tiny newborn babies. I hated babysitting. I didn't know the first thing about what to do with a kid. I only knew the extremes of what not to do.

Well, I made a decision. I decided to put college on hold and see what this new life would bring. I knew I wanted to be the one to raise my baby and be there for all of the important things--and to protect him from all of the horrible things I knew all too well were out there.

I was sure I didn't know what I was doing, but I figured that knowing the things I wasn't going to do would be a good start. I got a subscription to every parenting magazine in existance and I did what I do best--research.

Fast forward to more than fourteen years and five kids later and I love my life. Yes, I know that sounds cliche, but that's something I never thought I'd be able to say. I'd certainly never said it in the years before my family. I love my children. I can't breathe when I think of anything happening to them. I miss them when they're not here, I want to know everything about what makes them who they are.  I want to help them overcome every obstacle that comes their way. And more than anything, I don't want to be an example to them of what not to do.....

I make a lot of mistakes. My body and my mind can't always keep up with all the demands that are put on me. But despite that, I'm happy. I have a good husband and I have very good kids. Are they perfect? No. But they're mine-the good and the bad.

I need to stop measuring myself by those perfect TV moms...or even those moms in my neighborhood who seem to have it all together. Maybe I'm not the perfect mother, but I love my kids more than life. I'd give anything for them. Just maybe that's enough. I hope it is..............