Approval Ratings

‘Good’. What does that word mean? I mean specifically in the phrase, ‘good mother’ or ‘good parent’. I could look up the definition of the word ‘good’ and still have no idea what it means to be a good mother.

 I would love to have some sort of system that could accurately measure and give me feedback on my success and progress as a parent. Sort of a Nielsen rating for motherhood. And why not? After all- we all need positive feedback, don’t we? I do. It is odd that in everything else, I can tell you, ‘I am competent’, or ‘I am not competent’ and give good and convincing reasons why. But here… well I FEEL like a pretty cruddy parent most times.

 Here it is- Maximus’ first day of school- yesterday. I feel like I failed entirely to do whatever it is a normal mom would have done for an event of this significance. I’m pulled in many directions- attention divided by school, insurance, financial aid for college, bills, pimples… you name it. Minimus, oh baby I am so very sorry, my baby, for how much you have had to navigate this life unaided. You are such a remarkable boy, and I hope that when you are grown you don’t remember me as detached and uninterested. I’m always so distracted. I love you both so very much.

 But am I a GOOD momma? Maximus had what he needed for school; a good lunch, appropriate clothes, he was clean and had a backpack and a notebook for his teacher to communicate with me. He knew it was coming. (ok- I forgot to brush his teeth) We were a few minutes late, but no one blinked an eye. Minimus and I walked in with Max, and my big boy said, ‘Momma, I don’t need a hand.’ When I held mine out to him. Oh, I did remember to take his picture!! Well, I guess we did ok after all… Poor Minimus started a new care situation- many more days than he has ever had to be cared for by someone other than me. I feel I have abandoned them, both.

They had a fantastic day.

 So did I. Then the guilt hit. I enjoyed abandoning my babies. I was horrified at myself for this. Now- I KNOW I didn’t abandon them, and I know that if I had I would not have enjoyed it. But fear and guilt are irrational things. I look at my parenting as always having room for improvement, and I am always adding more tools, but I get stuck in that self-check mode. ‘Am I an ok mom?’ Then, it’s the end of a badbad day and I am crying to a friend about how differently I should have handled Max (especially) and she says, “You are GOOD MOM!!!” No, I protest. I am a barely adequate mom.

 This afternoon I figured out that what bothers me about being or not being a good mom is that I can not KNOW this about myself. There is no way to step outside of myself sufficiently to see that. I hate NOT knowing. I wish, for my sake- and maybe for the boys’ too, because maybe if I knew and was confident I could relax a little- I wish parenting had approval ratings.


About greenegem

Wielder of the Pen of Deep Wit.
This entry was posted in Figuring it out, Grace-Based Discipline, Greenegem's Story and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Approval Ratings

  1. You know what? A mom who was not a good mom would not even care. You are a good mom who loves her children and is making the best of very difficult circumstances. You are not perfect and that is ok because perfection does not exist among humans.

  2. Simon Elmes says:

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog by chance, so only seen this post for now, will be back. Alas there are no approval ratings and it would appear there is no manual (i googled it, and nothing) but if you care enough to ask the question of yourself then you are of course a great mom, although technically as a Brit I would say mummy but the great bit stands.

  3. Marcy says:

    Great post — how well you’ve captured this frustrating uncertainty full of judgment, fear, and guilt!

    I have been working harder on learning to notice things instead of judge them… including my judgments — and to more often challenge my fear of being wrong. Hand in Hand Parenting is helping.

  4. greenegem says:

    I thank you all for your Kind words. ❤ I have always struggled with needing outside affirmation of what I am doing. God is working on me- slowly, because of my unbelief- to help me see that my parenting doesn't need outside approval to be valid. That said, your comments have been very soothing to read.


  5. You want what is best for your babies and for yourself, and you pursue that and don’t settle for good enough. I think perfection is unrealistic and unattainable, but we keep learning and growing and that is huge part of what makes a ‘good’ mom.

    We do the best we can with what we have and remember to give ourselves grace. God doesn’t expect us get it right; that’s why He sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us.

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