I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately. I haven’t been giving lil’ ol’ me enough credit. I feel like my house is always a disaster, my kids are always bored, my husband and I are always fighting, we’re always broke, we don’t eat healthy enough, I could go on all day.
You might have read my recent post on Mom Guilt. The post garnered more attention than I had expected, which led me to believe that I’m not the only one walking around wondering “who the hell let me be in charge of another person’s life and entire upbringing?”
So I’ve decided today’s post will be on a much more positive note. I owe it to myself to give a little credit where it’s due. We all do. We aren’t bad parents, and we’re going to prove it. Today I’m challenging myself to find ten things that make me a good mom. This way, whenever I question my skills at this shit-show called parenting, I can bust out this little list as a reminder that maybe I’m not so bad after all. And I encourage you to do the same, fellow guilt-ridden friends!
Okay, now. Where to start……
- We dance. My daughter, especially, loves to dance. She’ll shake her little tail feather to almost ANY song she hears, even the theme to Star Trek (much to her daddy’s delight). So I take advantage of the fact that this is the easiest activity on earth that we can do together, and we do it almost every day. True, there are selfish incentives (i.e. this is my version of “going to the gym”) but the bottom line is that it makes my kids happy, and really, it’s so damn cute watching them bop all around the living room that I don’t mind at all.
- I bake muffins. Like, I mean, I’m the kind of mom who bakes muffins. And I do it all the time. I even do stuff like hide veggies in them and scale back the sugar to make them healthier. Yes, I’m sure lots of moms bake muffins. But if somebody had told me ten years ago that I’d be an apron-wearing, muffin-baking mom of two someday, I’d have been all bitch please. So the muffins are kind of a big deal to me.
- I breastfed. Now, don’t go all OMG on me for saying this makes me a good mom, because there are at least a zillion moms out there who formula-fed their kids and could easily run circles around me in the parenting department. I’m NOT saying that breastfeeding makes anyone a better mom at all. What I am saying is that the very act of allowing another human being to nibble on my BOOB for thirteen months straight is kind of a marvel in itself, when you think about it. And my daughter barely ate any real food (she still doesn’t), so my boob basically kept her alive for over a year. It’s pretty cool, in a sorry-for-talking-about-my-breasts-so-much kind of way.
- We go to the park. And let me tell you, I HATE THE PARK. In fact, I’m currently brewing up a blog that will effectively convey my contempt for trips to the park with the kids, so stay tuned for that one. From the germy equipment and booger-eating children to the boiling hot sun and bitchy parents, I hate practically everything about the park. But still, we go. As soon as the weather starts warming up, I drag my sorry, playground-loathing butt to the nearest set of snot-covered swings and slides as often as I can bear.
- We read. I loved to read as a child and I really want my kids to love it just as much as I always have. Now, if I said we read together every night while everyone drifts off into a peaceful slumber like they do on TV, I’d be flat-out lying. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still read a-plenty. When my son was younger and obsessed with dinosaurs, I used to read the dinosaur encyclopedia to him almost every day. The DINOSAUR ENCYCLOPEDIA. Did you know that there is no such thing as a brontosaurus anymore? And that a T-Rex’s tooth is roughly the size of a banana? Well, I do. Because we do the book nerd thing around here, and we’re proud of it.
- I say no. Sometimes, saying no is a lot harder than it sounds. It would be a lot easier to just say sure, you can have ice cream for breakfast. Or sure, you can give your sister a smack for throwing your Lego creation across the room. Or sure, you can watch Walking Dead with me. It would be easy to just let them do what they want and avoid the meltdown at all possible costs. But instead, I draw the line. I’m sure you do, too. We keep the Pandora’s Box of “sure you can” closed most of the time. It makes us better parents than we realize.
Just so you know, I’m struggling to come up with four more, which is rather contradictory to my original objective, which was reminding myself that I’m not really a crappy mom. Like, really, Jeannine? Six things? That’s all ya got? Ugh. I need a coffee break. I’ll be back with 7-10, and they’ll be much better than “I bake muffins.” Hopefully.
- I let them help out. Would the muffins taste better if my daughter didn’t stir the batter for fifteen minutes? Probably. But what fun would that be (for her)? And taking out the garbage would be a lot faster if my son didn’t insist on helping sort the recycling every time, but I think it’s teaching him an important lesson about the environment that he should know. Letting them help can be a pretty big pain in the ass, and it requires a LOT of patience, so it doesn’t happen EVERY time I’m doing something. But we do it as often as my patience allows, which is often enough.
- The love is in the little things. I can’t walk past a really cool Super Mario tee-shirt without getting it for my son because Mario is his absolute favorite. And I let my daughter pinch my arm until she falls asleep every night because it relaxes her, even though it kinda hurts like hell. And I hug them and kiss them and say “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” at least a hundred times a day. And I have cutesy little nicknames for each of them that I’ll probably still be using when they’re all grown up and embarrassed by it. And I let them use up all the hot water for their baths at night because they have fun in the tub even though it leaves me with nothing but freezing cold water for my own shower. The little things are so little on their own, but they add up. May not always seem that way, but they do.
- I take pictures. Zillions of pictures. And then I place them into labeled family photo albums in chronological order. It sounds like the sort of thing that someone with OCD would do, right? But I’m far from OCD, so I’m kinda proud of this habit. It’s really important to me that my kids have these childhood pictures to treasure as they get older. Pictures are memories, after all. And who knows? Maybe if they have all of these bright, shiny, smiling images to look back on, they’ll forget about all the yelling….
- I originally wanted to make #10 “I’m doing my best.” But then I thought: what the hell IS my best, anyway? What does that even mean? Some days I play with my kids for hours at a time, keeping them happy and busy all day long. Some days I need to clean and do laundry and cook and do all that not-so-fun stuff that keeps a home functional. On those days, my kids are entertaining themselves. Some days I’m the best mom in the world, and some days I totally suck. I mean, can anyone really say they are doing their best when there is no real definition for “best”? So instead I will make #10 be that I care. I care about my kids. And my husband. And my home. And even myself. I care and I think it shows in the things I do. I can’t give everything and everyone 100% all the time – no one can do that! But I always care, and I do what I can for the people and things that I care about. Isn’t that all we really can do?
So now it’s your turn. Take the good mom challenge with me. Stop wallowing in parent-guilt and tell me what makes you a good mom or dad.