As a general rule, I try not to judge other mothers for their choices. Just because I’m not a helicopter mom doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice for someone else. So, this notion of deeming someone a “good mom” might seem hypocritical. But I don’t think so.
Let’s face it. None of us is really going to know whether our efforts as parents is going to yield success or failure. Even if our kids end up with blissful lives, we know we can’t take all the credit, just as we can’t take all the blame for everything that might go wrong in our children’s lives.
Still, I believe there are certain standards we all agree on that we try to meet, even if we’re not always successful. And I think if you can see these 10 signs in yourself, you can give yourself a pat on the back for doing a good job as a mom.
1. Your Child Gets Angry at You
You cannot be doing a good job as a mother if your child NEVER gets upset with you. Our primary role as mothers is to define boundaries of acceptable behavior. It’s human nature and part of natural child development, for a child to test those boundaries. “I want candy for breakfast!” “Absolutely not.” “You’re mean!” is a conversation that should bring a smile to your face because you know you are being a great mom.
2. You Can’t Sleep at Night
Every mother I know has had a sleepless night, or at least a hard time falling asleep, at least once (and usually far more) having guilt over the things they did wrong that day or worrying about all the things they have to do in the days to come. In my opinion, even if you screwed everything up that day and THAT’S what is keeping you up, the fact that you know you screwed up and feel bad about it, is proof that you care whether or not you are doing a good job as a mom. And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that caring is definitely a quality of a “good mom.”
3. You’ve Suffered A Mini-Breakdown
As moms, we juggle a LOT of responsibilities. We cook, clean, nurture, organize, manage, chauffeur, volunteer, and dozens of other things. Sometimes, these obligations intersect in a perfect storm of stressors. If you were totally lazy or just didn’t care about the people affected by all those things you do, then you could let that stress fall away pretty easily. However, a conscientious, responsible person (i.e. “good mom”) will have a much harder time shrugging off the stress and might end up collapsing in a ball of tears or a pillow-throwing, foot-stomping tantrum.
4. You Make Food Your Kids Hate
Sometimes we get lucky and we get a child, or maybe a couple, that actually ENJOY healthy food. Your first-born probably didn’t even know what a french fry was for several years. However, very few of us survive motherhood without at least one phase of picky eating. Sure, you can cave and feed your child chicken nuggets, pizza, and macaroni & cheese every night, but most of us can’t bear to do that over the long-term because we want our children to be healthy. We go to great lengths to find compromises so we can “sneak” some vitamins and nutrients into our kids. And, sometimes, we believe the nutrition fairy might have visited our child in the middle of the night so we pull out the tilapia and spinach for dinner hoping for a miracle resulting in tears, tantrums, and arguments. Though your child isn’t very happy, you did a good thing.
5. You’re Selfish
Despite what society tells us, being a great mother doesn’t require complete, selfless devotion to our family. In fact, unless you are a bona fide saint, that would be impossible. If you aren’t a little selfish (e.g. stashing your favorite chocolate so that your kids who can’t tell the difference between Godiva and Hershey’s don’t eat it or locking yourself in your room to finish the book you’ve been trying to read for the past month), little resentments will start to build on top of the stress of taking care of everyone BUT yourself. Great moms nurture themselves so that they have more energy and optimism to help everyone else.
6. You’ve Been Called Crazy or You Think Others Think You Are
Some of us experience this a lot more than others. While it might sound like I’m saying you need to have a mental disorder to be a good mom, what I really mean is that you are so passionate about something (typically it will involve your kids somehow) that your intensity will lead others to believe you are a little out there. Whether you cheer too enthusiastically at a sporting event, rush your child to the doctor at the slightest indication of illness, are a zealous member of the PTA, or you have super strict rules that you never stray from, someone has either given you and odd look or actually said to you, “You’re a little bit crazy.” Kudos mom! Great moms have passion and the compunction to stand up for what they believe.
7. You Think You’re A Bad Mom
I truly believe that bad moms either don’t know or don’t care that they are bad moms. Abusive parents and negligent parents don’t care enough about the lives of their children to protect them, let alone nurture them. They will never try to change their behavior because they don’t register that they are doing anything wrong, or they simply don’t care. If you think you’re a bad mom, you’ve already identified something you believe you are doing wrong. Chances are, since none of us wants to be bad, you’ll make an effort to improve or change the characteristic you dislike in yourself. In trying to not be a bad mom, you are being a good mom.