I AM a Good Mother

i debated whether to post this.  i knew i wanted to write this--to put it down, almost like speaking it and giving these feelings a platform instead of dismissal once again.  and because this blog allows me a safe place to learn to speak my mind and to not have to make excuses for sharing my voice, i'm having courage and releasing this.

not too long ago, ben and i were contemplating the oddness that surrounds the perceptions our society often has in its view of participatory dads--those dads who would probably see their time with their kids as ordinary, just living life and doing this parenting thing as best as can be done--and how it seems that these dads may often hear comments or receive looks of, "what a great dad he is.  he's out with his kids, spouse absent, doing it on his own.  super dad!"  and it's almost as if this dad is automatically placed in one of two camps:  if he's actually caring for his kids (which could also be that he's just really doing the normal thing of parenting), he's seen as this super person.  and the other camp, the one where we hear about the statistics of how many of these dads are not present and the affects their absence has on the children they are not parenting, are sometimes known as the "deadbeat dads".  which seems like such an old-fashioned term because really i even hate to write those words, thinking of the sadness when some dads aren't allowed to be with their children in the capacity that they want to be and the spiral of hurt and brokenness that could lead to the purposeful removal of their fatherly-physically-present support.  and like any parent--father or mother--it's good to remember we're trying.  we're trying to love and discipline these children of ours well.  but...and this is what i'm getting at here...why does it seem that for most moms, to be deemed a "super mom", we actually have to be in the burning building, wearing the red and blue spandex, saving the neighbor's cat from near death; raising competent young adults who display empathetic feelings (because they've supposedly been breastfed longer); all while getting the (organically-grown) home-cooked dinner on the table  that has been garnished with the new table cloth we just sewed up that morning.  i don't do that.  but nonetheless, i should be recognized as "super mom".  well, let's just throw out those words anyway--"super mom/dad!"  no one is.  there isn't a competition here.  we are all great moms and dads--those who are sticking around, muddling through, have children who are being loved and respected.

yes, my heart has been stirred by the recent publicity given to the "mommy wars"-related media these days.  and i'm sure i'm not alone in this--it's rubbed a raw nerve.  and i didn't think it would have.  i'm left upset and wondering.  and i shouldn't have to wonder and compare...

because i'm going to tell myself this again, and i will try to practice this in my montra more often:  i am a good mother.

it's not simple or easy to swallow those words and that's why i have to force myself to remember them, to hold onto them, to let them help me grow and to give myself grace when i need it.  and even though sometimes i'd like to be on the receiving end, hearing those words from others, i shouldn't yearn for it.  it shouldn't matter if anyone notices my work as a mom.  but like any job ever, isn't it nice to hear from someone that you're doing a good job?  shouldn't we tell other mamas that they are good instead of internally judging or just forgetting to remind them?  because kind words--a lesson we are teaching for our children and something that i am learning to do--are important to share with others.  and if it takes so much effort to even tell myself i am good, it takes so much more courage to tell other moms (and dads) that they are good too.  hell, we may be at our worst, in our lowest parenting moment of the day, but hearing those words (internally and externally), have a way of re-directing our minds and our actions.  reminding us that we have the strength to do this and the grace that will allow us to start again.

maybe there are moms and dads out there who just intrinsically know that they are doing a fine job of parenting.  that it's almost just part of their dna--their confidence and security.

i'm not there.  i need to hear it and i need to remind myself.  because i am doing a good job.  i have done a lot of mental work and still do a lot of self-care to help me grow as a healthy individual and as a healthy mom.  there wasn't such a great pool of experiences in my life to draw from, and being a victim of abuse, there are so many shaken and bruised pieces of my being that leave me ragged and aching.  and these shitty pieces of my life are in the process of healing--and will always be--but i am trying to love the brokenness and be kind to myself in this process.  because when i felt my worst, and i had a small, beautiful one-year-old to care for, i knew that i couldn't love her well if i was not well.  and she was my motivation for getting help.  for working through the heart ache and the doubts.  to mother myself so i could mother her (and now both of them).  and this isn't an easy process.  but i am doing my best, day by day.  and the moments when my screaming toddler is sprawled out on the floor, i gather her in my arms, kicking, and rock her there, all the while, speaking into her these truths, but also reciting them for my sake once again:  "i am loved.  i am lovable.  i am intelligent and i am strong."  because for such a long time, i didn't believe these things about myself.  and when i am weak, it's easy to believe their opposites.  and i want sophie (and audrey) to know these (and so many others) are wonderful qualities about themselves.  even when she is acting her worst, she deserves respect and love and a solid place in which to feel her deep emotions and to be okay in doing so.  sometimes i hate that life isn't fair and that i have been "dealt a bad hand", and i have to learn these things and care for myself in such ways that allow me to care for my children well that might come easier for some.  but i am going forward, progressing.  loving fiercely and allowing wounds to heal.  all in the name of motherhood--wanting to be the best mother i can create for the  needs of my children.

and i am a good mother.

when i know my limits and have to walk away from my screaming babe, leaving her in a safe place, so that i can gather myself again, that is mothering well.  and then i ask for help.  and ben is gracious and so incredibly strong and loving.  and he's present. and i trust him and his insights.  this is mothering well.  and i am learning how to self-care, so i hire a babysitter to watch my child/ren so that i can leave the house or be preoccupied with something other than mommy-duties.  this is mothering well.  i try to have fun and laugh with my children often.   this is mothering.  i try to balance that with positive discipline and patience.  and i try to remind myself that what works for some doesn't necessarily work for us, and to breathe that in and release it.  this is mothering.  i try to get out of the house with friends and do grown-up things for my sanity, supporting ben when he feels the need to do the same.  this is mothering.  i try to recall the other mothers in my life who i hold up as such good reminders of what being a mother is, and the authors of books i have read who have been so transparent in calling the shitty parts of mothering, shitty; who also speak to the loveliness of mothering and seeing those God-given moments.  this is mothering.  and all of this, i remind myself...

i am a good mother.

and it's okay if you want to tell me that from time to time.  and when you do, i will do my best to receive those words as a blessing.  and when ben tells me i am good; that he sees me as a mom who is doing my best, i take it and savor it.  and try to recite it over and over again in my mind.  and then remind him of his goodness as a father.

raising kids--this isn't an easy journey.  this has been brutal and blissful.  and i am lucky to have such a wonderful spouse who is doing this parenting thing right alongside of me.  he keeps me stable.  there are days when we are not at our best, and those are the days we just try to get by.  and there have been days when we recognize how lucky we are and laughter from our children and our own selves resonates through our warm hearts and in the walls of our home.

i love my children and i am working so hard to be a good mother.   day by day.

yes, i guess this blog post is just for me.  to work out these feelings of insecurity and to remind myself of how truly valuable being a mother is and how far i've come.  and to remind myself that this is all a process--and i am here, right here, in the process.