When you get told you're a bad mom-by someone you love

 Photo by Hilary Kaye Photography

Photo by Hilary Kaye Photography

I do not hide the fact that I didn’t grow up waiting to be a mom.  I saw kids in my future but I was definitely more interested in travel or a career first.  Getting married wasn’t something I was eager to rush into either-but when I met my husband things changed and his eagerness to start a family rubbed off on me.  When we had our son almost 4 years ago I remember being terrified and excited simultaneously.  Excitement that he was finally here and I’d get to see who he will become.  Fear that I wouldn’t be enough as a mother; I wouldn’t love on him enough, or play with him enough, or feed him the right foods-read him the right books, I wouldn’t have that mother instinct I knew good mothers had.  I was terrified I’d take this beautiful boy and ruin him with my shortcomings.

But I was wrong.  I was, and am, a great mother.  I assess his needs and desires, constantly researching and trying new things to better accommodate him as an individual.  But more importantly I love him without limit and engage with him endlessly.   I am a great mom, and I know it.  Which is why it hurt so badly when someone I love told me I was not.  When someone I trusted and respected told me I wasn’t nurturing enough as a mother, I yelled too much and didn’t play enough, that my best, wasn’t good enough-it broke me.  The thing is, when someone you love chooses to hurt you, they know exactly where your cracks are and how to tear you down with one comment.  This one person made me, just for a moment, doubt myself; doubt my sons love for me, and doubt my dedication to him.  It made me feel like all I do, and all that I have become since my son was born was not enough-as if my very best had fallen drastically short. 

But this just wasn’t true, it isn’t true.  I will say it over and over again as many times as I need to to forget the hateful words that were said to me-I AM A GOOD MOM, no, I am a GREAT MOM!  No one should ever be attacked as a mother, especially if the child is in no harm emotional or physically.  There is no reason to bring someone down who dedicates her every waking moment to someone other than herself.  Yes as mothers we all fall short sometimes.  We miss pick ups, or misplace favorite toys-we lose our temper, raise our voices.  It’s only 3pm and I can think of a million things I wish I’d handled differently today.  But that does NOT make me a bad mom.  It makes me human.  We all make mistakes, we all wish we could go back and have a redo sometimes-but that doesn’t mean we are bad Mother’s, or bad people.  

I know mothers who yell, mothers who speak softly, mothers who spank, mothers who do not punish at all; I know crunchy moms, young moms, cool moms, old moms, new moms, modern moms, you name it-and none of them are bad moms.  Each and every mother I know is doing the very best she can for her kids.  THE VERY BEST SHE CAN.  That isn’t saying all the moms I know are perfect-that is saying that your best as a mother, whatever that is, is good enough.  And if anyone makes you question that, even someone you love, they don’t know you like your kids do.  If you want to know your value ask your child what they think of you as their mommy.  I’d bet on my life they see you as perfect no matter what kind of mom you are-because they see you trying day in and day out. Even if trying isn’t perfect, kids don’t need perfect moms, they love you in all your imperfect glory.

A few weeks ago I saw a video where producers brought young kids and mothers in separately to be interviewed about motherhood.  Each and every mother questioned herself-if she was doing enough, if she was good enough to deserve the kid her world revolves around.  Most cried thinking they could never be enough.  As if somehow being human, losing her patience, having accidents happen, makes her a bad mom.  In the end the moms were brought back in to watch their children’s interviews.  Many of them you could tell were nervous, scared all their child remembered were the timeouts and tantrums.  But every single child had nothing but praise and love for their mothers-all for different reasons.  Every.  Single.  Child.  Not one said a bad thing.  Each child loved their mom for the things that made her unique.  The way she read a bedtime story, or how she’s always gives high fives. 

beyond these little things, almost every kid mentioned how much they loved their mom simply for always being there.  That’s the thing about being a mom that makes it hard not to question yourself.  You are always there.  You are there in the good proud moments, and you are there in the terrible moments that make you want to burry your head in the sand.  Those terrible moments stick with you, and somehow one bad day overpowers months of amazing mommy moments.  The moral of this video, and this article, is that moms do a great job questioning themselves.  Which means we don’t need our loved ones to push us down.  As a mother I am tasked with the biggest and most important job I’ve ever had, raising a human that doesn’t suck.  Bluntly put.  The pressure of that is something we all feel everyday, we don’t need any more reason to put ourselves down.  We already question everything we do.

Be a support for those mothers in your life.  And the ones you love, give them grace, give them love.  No mother should ever have to hear from a loved one that she’s not enough for her child.  Nobody else can judge you as a mother but your child.  And if your kid put clothes on today-you are already a better mom than I am.  Don’t let anyone tell you you are not enough for your child.  You are enough.