10/10/14

"A great mom"

I read this article today written by someone I admire and respect (and have been lucky enough to meet.)  This article talks about her fear of becoming a mother.  She worries that if and when her dream of having kids will come true, she won't be good enough.  Give it a read. 

Dear Friend,

While I understand your feelings.  I would like to share with you some knowledge that I've learned as a mom for 19 years.  I have 3 natural kids, 1 stepdaughter and 1 that will be my stepson someday.  I can tell you with all honesty, that after all these years, I still worry about being a good mom.

The fact that you have waited, and are contemplating if you will or won't be a good mom, that the thought of having children makes you take pause and wonder if you will be good at it- is enough to know that you are at least aware of the mom you might WANT to be.

I got pregnant at 22.  I was in a new and exciting relationship and destined to be in love forever, the way we are at 22.  I did not think about why I wanted kid.  I felt it was just something I wanted, so I did it.  I didn't put a lot of thought into it- and I struggled for many years.

Many of us go in with ideas of natural childbirth, breastfeed only, cloth diapers, homemade baby food, we will sterilize EVERYTHING, never microwave a bottle to heat it up, let them cry it out, never use a pacifier, vacuum when they are sleeping so they get used to noise, and we will read to our child every. single. day.  We will keep the baby book current until they are five.  We will never use TV to distract the baby.  We will never put cows milk in a bottle, and only give our kids fruit as snacks.  We will ever raise our voices.  Never argue with our partner in front of the children.  We won't ever say "because I said so."  We go in with at least some of these good intentions.  We will be "a good mom."

Then we have a child.

Quickly we realize that sometimes you have to give a bottle.  That there isn't enough hours in the day to MAKE baby food.  If you shake the microwaved bottle, it will dissipate the "hot spots."  We realize that a pacifier both soothes the child, and also allows you to have a conversation with someone.  A little TV doesn't hurt, and you have to sweep the floor sometime.  It is impossible to not raise your voice when your child is about to put something questionable in his/her mouth.  You also learn that there is very little in a parents' vocabulary that feels quite as satisfying as "because I said so!" 

That's all ok.  You will become the mom your child needs because you are not a selfish person.  You actually put thought into this.  Perhaps the maternal instinct will kick in, and it becomes as natural to you as a baby fish in the ocean.  When that happens, it's like magic.  It didn't for me.I still make daily mistakes.  I curse around my kids.  Some days they are the last to get picked up from school.  I recently forgot to actually MAKE the sandwich for my sons lunch and sent him to school with only two pieces of bread in the plastic bag.  My "Mom of the Year" speech got tucked away a long time ago- and I think the paper is wrinkled and the ink is faded.  Most days I am glad that "nobody bled today."

When my oldest son turned 16, I finally started making enough money to support him and his brothers.  I finally live in a nice house with a stocked fridge.  My son, now 19 and moved out, who didn't get as much of the 'good stuff' as my younger ones are enjoying, doesn't hold it against me.  He knows I did the best I knew how and that I love him.  They never REALLY appreciate you until they are older anyway.  That's important to remember.

Parenting is hard, and even the ones who DO all the "Good Mom" things, make mistakes.  While I can't stand her, Dr. Laura talks about being a "good enough" mom.  It means we do our best, we realize we are not perfect, and if we have a bad day, we let it go and try to make tomorrow a little better.  Judgment errors will be made.  Bad decisions will probably happen.  Kids are resilient and forgiving.  They love you even when you leave them in the diaper too long or when you sing off key.  For most, the only real currency needed is love- and that is given in the form of doing your best, giving them your time, hugging them a lot and teaching them the things they will need to know when they stop being children.

It's good to have that fear.  It means you are aware of what's ahead.  You are looking around, scanning the scenery, watching for sharp corners and things that make you itchy.  You are already looking out for the child you will have someday.  It's a good place to start.  It's where a lot of us DIDN'T start. 

You might even be a little bit ahead of the game.  Best of luck to you. 
May you be good enough.

love,
Julie

 

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