As a parent, I love my children more than anything else in the world, and I want them to be safe, strong, happy and healthy.
I want to be a good mother. I love photos of mothers bathed in the warm, peaceful light of the golden hour, sitting in a field of wildflowers, holding their children affectionately while wearing a pretty floral dress. She has patience in abundance and loves to spend every possible moment caring for her children. That’s the kind of mother I dream of being.
Sometimes being a mother comes easily to me—like when the right thing to say leaves my mouth and my kids’ faces brighten and I know I said exactly what they needed to hear. I try and anticipate my children’s needs and meet them. I try to be patient and kind, to listen and play with them as much as I cook and prepare for them. I try and spend the time talking with them about the little things because as someone has said, the little things are the big things to them, and I want them to talk to me about the big things when they grow up.
As many as there are good motherhood moments, sometimes being a “good mom” feels like an elusive quality that I just can’t grasp. It floats away from me, and I’m left feeling impatient, snappy and frustrated, and we’re all out of joint and nothing goes the way it should. I feel like I’m a failure of a mother as often as I feel like I’m a good mother. I observe other mothers out in public, I talk with friends who are mothers, I am part of a family in which many are mothers. I read about them, I see them on TV and watch them in movies—these other mothers—and I see in them what I am not.
I often find myself wishing I was more like “other mothers. “ “Other mothers” are more patient, more kind. They have their tempers on a tight, strong leash while my temper’s leash seems to be composed of threads that unravel a lot. They don’t care about messes and embrace the adventures had in the midst of the chaos. They want nothing more than to make memories with their kids. They look lovingly at their child with the slightest air of displeasure when their kids spill an entire glass of orange juice, and then wipe it up with one fell swoop of Bounty, and they don’t chide the child to be more careful. They drop everything to answer their kids’ questions, never telling them to “wait a few minutes, please; I just need to finish sending a couple of important emails.” They have nothing to feel guilty about.
I started realizing that by idealizing all the good aspects of all the “good moms,” I was creating an archetype of the perfect mother, and distancing myself from her all the while. I could barely see her, that ideal mother, because she was so high up on a pedestal, her pretty shoes barely visible. I could barely see her, but I desperately strived to be her.
But I have also realized that every mother is not the same person. There are so many kinds of people with so many different childhoods, different life experiences, different personalities and different lives, different challenges, different strengths and weaknesses, different values and motivations, different family dynamics. Then, many of them become mothers. Just because they become mothers doesn’t mean they all left themselves behind and transformed into the same person: “good moms.” Yes, parents routinely “die to self” for the sake of their kids’ needs, but trust me, you’re still in there, and the truth about who you are will come out and be even more apparent when you have kids.
There are so many kinds of mothers because there are so many kinds of people.
We’re all different mothers, but it doesn’t mean there is only one combination of personality and life experience that comprises a “good mom.”
Many people say that their mom is the best mom in the world, but if you lined up all of those best moms in the world, you would see a row of vastly different people. If every mom is the best mom in the world, then no mom is the best mom in the world. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s a good thing. It means that every mother is what her kids need; every mother is an imperfect human with good days and bad days; every mother is trying to do what is best for their kids; every mother expresses their love for their children in different ways.
On this Mother’s Day, I want to encourage all the mothers out there to just be the “you” kind of mother. It’s what you were created to be, and every day, you are living out the best kind of mother for your kids. God knew all this when He created you and created your children. Happy Mother’s Day, and much love to you!