I've been wondering lately: What makes someone a good mom?
(Or dad. I will be using "mom" generically because, well, let's face it, I am a mom. I know nothing of being a dad. So, for the wonderful and much loved dads here, this is not exclusive to the female parent.)
I found myself saying to my best friend the other day, "I'm just so scared that I am not a good enough mom and that by working full time at home, I really won't measure up anymore."
Measure up to whom?
We all know it's easy to point out the bad parents, the ones who are neglectful or abusive or don't care one bit about their kids. The worst of the lot are easy to see. And we do all we can do to protect the children from them. But what about the "good mom"?
Is there a long list of "Good Mom" qualities that you must have in order to pass the test that you really can't study for? Is there someone keeping score somewhere?
Who decides who is a Good Mom?
Is it the Mom who logs in the most hours volunteering? Or the Mom who worked extra hours this month so her son could get those new cleats for soccer that he wants so badly?
Is it the Mom who went through 20 hours of labor without medication? Or the Mom who asked for an epidural while still at the hospital door?
Is it the Mom who won't let her kid watch any movie with a rating higher than PG? Or is it the Mom who lets them watch an R-rated movie, but watches it with them so that she is there for questions or censoring?
What about the Mom who makes her children do a lot of chores and work around the house? Or perhaps the Mom who cleans her children's rooms and washes their clothes for them?
Could it be the Mom who makes sure every meal is a balanced meal, no matter what? Or the Mom who is always willing to pick up the phone and order a pizza?
Is there a scorecard? Does it go on your permanent record?
Last week, when my son was sick, he answered these questions for me. He was restless and upset and running a low grade fever. So, I snuggled up to him in his bed and began to rub his back, talk to him, tell him stories. After a while I felt him relax and could tell he was drifting off. But just before he did, he turned his sleepy eyes towards me and said in a voice just barely audible, "I love you. You're the best mom in the world."
It was all clear to me then. It doesn't matter what the "model" mother should be. There is no Standard Mother Behavior that makes someone a Good Mom. The critics make no difference to me. There are only three people whose opinions matter when it comes to this topic.
And I received a rave review from one of them.
Jenn is a 36-year-old freelance writer and mom who works from the Texas home she shares with her husband and three children.