Some time ago a friend of mine sent me a text stating, “I just lost it with my daughter. I blew up at her. I am a bad mom.” Knowing that my friend works hard to have a healthy relationship with her daughter, and also knowing how much they love each other, I texted back, “You are not a bad mom. You are a good mom who is having a bad day.” With a little more encouragement, my friend finally agreed with what I was telling her.
Today, I blew up at my daughter. I am ashamed to admit it, but it is true. Typical reasons led to the tension, like her room not being cleaned, her laundry not getting done, and the ignoring of my requests for help from her. After I had vented my anger and frustration to her tear-filled face, I immediately regretted my outburst. And I said to myself in my mind, “I am a bad mom.”
Much to my surprise, these words popped into my head, “You are not a bad mom. You are a good mom who is having a bad day.” Not expecting that my advice to someone else would return to me at just this moment, I ignored it, as I was still dealing with guilt. But the thought wouldn’t leave me, and ultimately I had to answer my own question: Was I really a good mom having a bad day? Or do I deserve the title, “Bad Mom of the Year”?
As I thought about this, another question followed: So what makes a mom good? What does a good mom do? A myriad of random thoughts immediately flooded my mind:
· Good moms make homemade cookies instead of getting store-bought ones.
· Good moms recycle.
· Good moms have a clean house.
· Good moms are never late picking up their kids from school or activities.
· Good moms don’t get behind on the laundry.
· Good moms pack healthy lunches.
· Good moms plan play dates and family activities.
· Good moms live on a budget and use coupons.
· Good moms make their kids take music lessons.
· Good moms volunteer to be a PTA officer.
· Good moms only let their kids watch 2 hours of TV a day.
· Good moms always wear makeup and have their hair done nice.
· Good moms never yell at their kids.
· Good moms are always happy.
Now I have never read this list anywhere, nor have I ever written it down before. But I know where it came from. These are all the mom-things I feel I do not accomplish; the invisible, unachievable check-list in my head that separates a “good mom”day from a “bad mom” day. But today I began to wonder, is this really the right list?
After further evaluation, I decided maybe I needed to make a slightly different list in my head. While I am still working on this new list, here are a few items I think will be on it:
· Good moms listen more than they talk.
· Good moms say, “I’m sorry” when they are wrong.
· Good moms laugh a lot and yell a little.
· Good moms try to say “yes” as much as possible and “no” when it is necessary.
· Good moms teach the value of taking care of possessions but don’t put possessions before people.
· Good moms make time to have fun with their kids even when they don’t feel like it.
· Good moms give lots of hugs and say “I love you” to their children whenever possible.
· Good moms feel inadequate often but don’t blame others.
· Good moms know how fast time goes by and that makes them aware of the gift of each day.
· Good moms can have bad days, but they have great days too – and they make those count!
I am so glad my family is patient and forgiving of me when I have a bad day. After apologizing to my daughter, she gave me a hug and quickly moved on to talk about other things as if my outburst had never happened. Though I was still feeling guilty inside, she was excitedly chatting about her upcoming activities that evening. Wanting to continue our conversation, I suggested we go get ice cream. As we licked our drippy cones and laughed together, I began to feel at ease again. Maybe I could do this thing called “being a good mom”. I do know I will always be working on it. And I will be forever grateful for the privilege of being called “Mom” by my three wonderful children.