You Are A Good Mother

You are a good mother

Today I read a wonderful post by Birth Without Fear. It brought a tear to my eye, and inspired me to write something (which is no mean feat, I can tell you).

January writes so passionately and emotionally about how, as parents, we don’t have to be perfect. We can still be great, and that nothing can take away from the joyous moments of parenthood.

Whilst reading this post, it suddenly hit me what has been wrong all these months, years, etc. This whole time I have been trying so hard to do everything “right”. Don’t leave your kids to cry, breastfeed until they self wean, never praise them, never shame them, always boost their self esteem, follow their lead, never shout, etc etc etc…. I’m not for a second saying that these ideas shouldn’t be heeded – I am a firm believer in unconditional parenting and I have spent years striving after being an unconditional parent myself.

However, my mission to be the perfect unconditional parent has actually led me to be a pretty shitty mum.

I worry all the time about the things I say and how I say them. Every time I open my mouth I wonder, “will my kids be telling a therapist about this one day?” Every time my three year old and I get into a battle of wills over watching one more programme on Cbeebies (with me terrified that 15 more minutes of screen time will melt his brain and seal his fate as a blithering TV addicted idiot by age 20), every time I raise my voice because I’m fucking stressed and exhausted because my baby nurses all night and berate myself for losing my temper.

It’s just not worth it.

I am not a perfect parent. I am loud, I lose my temper, I fucking relish the peace that our twice-daily TV time brings. I am crap at playing, I’m stubborn and have tantrums that rival my toddlers’.

A couple of days ago, it pissed down with rain all day long. We decided to say To Hell With the World, and spent the entire day in our jammies. We put the duvet on the floor and danced on it. We did some cleaning together. We played. We watched TV – about 3 hours in total, spread through the day. I raised my voice a couple times, but it was no big deal. I apologised, nobody got upset, it was fine. In fact, the whole day was better than fine – it was fab and I loved it

I feel like I’ve had an epiphany. You really can only do the best you can do. And if the best you can do involves some undesirable parenting practices – bribery, praise or use of electronic babysitters – then it’s likely to be MUCH better than the you that’s trying to attain some unreachable goal. Just because somebody else has the temperament to live and parent in a certain way, doesn’t mean that I have.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to do better – of course we should. I’m not saying we should all embrace our crappy traits and never try to do any better. I just think that, with all of the trying and striving, we can forget to just be in the moment with our children, enjoying them and creating memories that will stay with us until we are old.

So I will continue to co-sleep, babywear, breastfeed, make an effort to spend quality time with my children, try my hardest to speak to them nicely and set a good example to them. The remainder of my parenting energy will be spent ENJOYING my children, not panicking about how many times I’ve said “well done” or “good job”, or about what kind of effect another episode of Mike The Knight will be having on my child’s psyche.

I am a good mother. You are a good mother. Believe it.


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Comments

  1. Just wanted to say Thank you ! Today of all days, I SO needed this ! sigh, :-)

  2. Imogen, you are wonderful! Thank you! You’re in my weekly links post again! http://freeyourparenting.com/2011/11/13/sharing-sunday-16/

  3. Hey mama! I believe you were also interviewed by Mama Earthly on her Give an Earthly blog.
    Just wanna say I love you! This is a really truthful and wonderful piece you have written here.
    I wrote an article in Juno Magazine recently about how real life gets in the way of your mothering ideals and that if you roll with real life, it’s ok! You don’t have to completely loose all your principles all the way but letting go a bit and allowing an imperfect alternative that is uniquely you is perfect and normal and good. At the end of the day, even the high priests and priestesses of parenting have days of saying ‘fuck it’ from under the duvet – or making big whopping mistakeroonies. I’m making tons – I’m still a good mum – and so are you and so are billions of mamas around the world trying their best. It’s all we can do! :-) Much love to you X

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! :) yep that was me, and I loved your interview :) you’re so right. we spend so much time trying to instil a sense of confidence in the self within our children, teaching them that our individuality is what makes us special, and then we try to conform to the ideal of a perfect parent! Silly :)

  4. This hit home for me. I’m currently expecting #2 and finding the work/home/me time balance stretched to the breaking point. Your post reminded me to take a breath and just be the parent I already am. My hubby is the stay at home parent and I am constantly reminding him to just go with it and telling him that he’s doing an excellent job. Sometimes I need to hear these things myself. While hubby tells me, I don’t know if I really believe him. Your post reminded me that deep down I KNOW that I am doing what’s right for my daughter and future child. Thanks again!

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  1. [...] we find it to believe! The first one is The Ideal Mother? by Purple Mum and the second is You Are a Good Mother by Alternative [...]

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