As a mum, I seem to be great at defining what makes a bad mum – what I mean to say is I have a lot of guilt, apologies and worries that I am not doing a good enough job. I’ve written about mum guilt before, and am well versed in the various forms of guilt mothers encounter throughout the day. Here are some of the negative thoughts I have had this week about my parenting:
Did I really just give in and let her have a lolly for breakfast? Her poor teeth. I thought I would be the mum who gave her porridge and honey from our bee hives. Or eggs from our chickens. We don’t have a beehive or chickens. And now she’s eating the last of the biscuits from the packet I left on the sofa last night.
Her bedroom is the messiest room in the house. It’s been in a state of disarray since her conception. I thought I would be the mum with a beautiful insta-worthy house. All my friends manage to stay on top of tidying. And all the mums on instagram have amazing nurseries. She just found a dummy on her floor and is now sucking it … a dummy that I bought in desperation when she was 3 months old. She’s now 2. Where did she find that? Ewwww cat hair.
Oh my god, I just trod on what I hope was a grape. Or is it cat sick? God, we haven’t had grapes all week. Am I now hoping it is sick? I’ll just slide it under the sofa and clean the floor later … hopefully no one will notice the dust bunnies and food crumbs. If I’m not teaching her about cleanliness, at least she will have a good immune system, right?!
Did you notice that the things I often feel guilty about are linked to other people – either that other people do it better than me, or that other people will judge me. I don’t think of their judgement if something positive happens, but have a tribe of imaginary ladies in my head telling me I am definitely not a good mum. When I compare myself to them, I am a bad, bad mum. There’s a reason they say comparison is the joy thief. But here’s the thing, I am so busy berating myself for these daily ‘fails’ that I have completely forgotten what parenting means to me. What do I actually think makes someone a good mum?
What does it mean to be a ‘good mum’?
Have you really thought about that? Sure, you maybe had an idea of the mother you hoped to be, or the mother you thought you would be … but have you really thought about it since becoming a mum? What does it mean to you? Not your friends. Not your sister. Not your mum. Not anyone. What does it mean to you – you and your family. Because let’s face it, there isn’t one right answer to that question. There isn’t a list somewhere that says everything a good mother must do. We are all different, what one child needs from their mother will be different to what another child needs. Our circumstances are different yet we are all capable of raising our children well. So there can’t possibly be just one version of a ‘good mum’. So the only version that should matter to you, is your own version. And that version can’t always stay the same, because our children will grow and develop. Our version of a ‘good mum’ will adapt to our child’s needs and personality.
Here’s the thing, when I stopped thinking about the things I feel guilty about and the things I think others do better – and started to reflect on what it means to me to be a good mum, I had a wonderful realisation. I am a good mum! I want Boo to know she is loved through my words and actions. And she does. I can see through her words and actions that she feels loved and valued. This is the core of what drives my parenting. It is the core of my version of a ‘good mum’. Sure, there’s other things that I value and want to help develop in Boo. There’s things that I love and want to share with her. Some of them I have done a lot of. Other things I haven’t. But I’ve had to adapt to our circumstances. I’ve had to adapt to Boo.
Sometimes I don’t clean the floor as often as I’d like because I’m knackered and know that if we are going to have fun the next day, I need to sleep. Boo’s room is tidied all the time. But, she has so much stuff it is always a bit of a mess. And that’s OK. She LOVES playing in there. Sure, it’s not insta-worthy, but it’s Boo-worthy. And breakfast … well I pick my battles and 7am is not a time for battles. I am OK with those decisions. Sure, it’s not all in my original version of the mum I thought I would be – but its definitely the mum I am proud to be now. I don’t do it all. I definitely don’t do it perfectly. I will make mistakes. I will get it wrong. But, I’m going to keep trying because at the core of my parenting is love.
So what do you think makes a good mum? I bet you will be surprised …