The most difficult thing about being a mom is that you really never know if you are a good one. We don’t go to school to learn the tricks of the motherhood trade, we don’t have a job description, our children don’t come with instruction manuals or guarantees, and feedback is sporadic and often negative. (“I HATE YOU!” aka, The Teenage Years) Motherhood is winging-it in the truest senses of the word. We try to go with our guts, perhaps rely on some snippet of advice or past experience as a child, we cross our fingers, feign confidence, and hope for the best.
This is how I feel most of the time, and these are my high points. My low points are when I start comparing myself to other mothers. They seem more patient, more loving, more creative, more engaged, more experienced. Crap, sometimes these mothers are everywhere! They are also more organized than me, more stylish than me, more fit than me, and seemingly, more interesting. If all this isn’t enough of a blow to the fragile confidence of the mother psyche, just wait until you witness their children. These small people don’t burn three-sixty turns with the shopping cart in the narrow isles of the grocery store, they don’t fight with their siblings or their mothers in the driveway when neighbours and passers-by are within earshot, they don’t get sent to the principal's office for swearing or get C-‘s on their report cards. OH NO, not the children of the gifted moms! After helping old ladies carry their groceries to the car, and speaking in hushed polite tones to their parents, these kids run home to do homework (during summer) and then play outside collaboratively with their siblings building forts and go-carts for some eco-conscience youth fair that will allow them to explore ways to raise money for water in poverty stricken countries. I think my kids were watching TV this whole time by the way.
I get on these jags and I beat myself up for bit, and I lay in bed talking to my husband about it all for a while. Well, I think it is only “a while” but he thinks it is eternity, and he has ear plugs in but knows well enough to take them out occasionally, pretend he is listening and remind me at the same time that he has to get up early and can we talk about it tomorrow and that I might be over reacting ever so slightly. I listen to that drivel, pause momentarily, and then go off again about these freakish moms who make me look bad. Eventually, even I tire of this and once I have sufficiently beaten myself up, I decide to look at the situation differently.
Good or bad, it isn’t me against them or me compared to them. There is no formula, and we are all so different. There is no "them"; it is just us—us moms. Some moms are sweet and cuddling; some are stern and strict; some are goofy and funny. We are all our own versions of motherhood. We all do our best and have the best interests of our children at heart (most of the time), and we all make mistakes. I like to think I am the melting pot of motherhood: a bit of everything—depending on the “time of the month” and the situation at hand. I also like to think that some moms out there might momentarily envy my approach, but I know I am grasping at straws a bit here! With all of our differences, we also all have at least one thing in common. Well, OK, two things in common:
1. We love our kids so much we really would throw ourselves in front of a bus to save their lives.
2. We are all our own versions of a good mom!