What does it mean to be a good mother? 

I wish— no, I don’t wish that I had a complex answer for you.  I don’t believe what makes a good mother is so very complicated.  Anyone can be a good mother.  

You needn’t teach your child piano, guitar, Chinese, Spanish, karate; how to cook; how to do [insert whatever “good” moms teach their child.  You needn’t feed them an all organic diet or create fabulous scrapbooks (though you might want to save memories, of course!)  You needn’t sew them anything, or make them a fancy breakfast every morning. And if you do, awesome. You shouldn’t not do them, anymore than you think you must do them.

I would say being a good mother is far easier and far more challenging.  And so I thought I’d ask mothers their opinions. I asked my friends and mothers to tell me what makes a great mother.

My best friend since I was old enough to have a friend says a good mother is this:
  1. Show your love. This can be achieved by showing interest in their lives. Asking questions about things they love (even silly stuff like Minecraft, books they’re reading,  music they like). Showing love isn’t being nice all the time,  it’s about giving a shit. Even if you’re not letting them do something because it’s but safe, that’s showing love. 
  1. Give them space to grow.  Let them make mistakes and grow from them.  Encourage them to learn about things they’re interested in. Push them to try new things and get out of their comfort zone,  but don’t push too much. If they say continually say no,  let it be,  it’s their decision. 
My other friend simply says,
  1. Be kind to them.
  2. Don’t compare your kids to other kids.
  3. Teach them to be grateful.
I would say,
  1. Listen to them and help guide them to the best thinking and choices that you can.
  2. Play with them. Relax & enjoy your time with them, because time passes far too quickly (but don’t worry if you are taking enough pictures, just…take as many as you can!)
  3. Remember they are always watching & always listening. Are you showing them the person you hope they will one day become?

….and so many more stories I could share!

Being a good mother is not the same as being a perfect mother.

Be a good mother, not a perfect one.  Striving for perfection may make a good impression among those who are watching you, judging you— but not the ones that matter most.  A child does not want a perfect mother, she wants a loving mother.  

She wants a mother who will hold her when she’s hurt and when she cries, and not make her feel silly and stupid for her feelings.  It is such a wonderful, delicate, and beautiful thing to nurture a child.  Don’t worry about the things that don’t matter.

Even when you feel like you’re not any good, they will tell you how lucky they are to have you.  She’ll forgive you, so long as she feels you are there for her.  Because you are her mother, and while she may have many mothers in her life, she will always need you.  And because she’ll mess up, too, and she wants you to forgive her for it.  To let it go.  Because what really matters is that the two of you love each other.  And care for each other as best you can.

My littlest one says she wants a mother who is “nice, nice, kind, kind, and helpful.”  

Yes, I worry that I let them eat too many OREOS and M&Ms and Cheetos.  That they play on their screens too much.  That I don’t make them get enough exercise or workout.   But they are children.  They need the sugar and the sleep.  And I try so hard to be nice and understanding and thoughtful— but sometimes I am petty and rude. 

But then I stop and breathe and remember that it’s okay to slip up.  It’s good for kids to see adults  make a mistake and apologize (the apology is key!).  It’s okay to see that if I accidentally overcook the brownies and it turns out to be cake, they’ll happily eat it, anyway.  And tell me there’s no need to worry, because nobody will mind. Am I being kind, nice, and helpful? If so, I think I’ve had a good day.

When they happily go on and on about you playing with them in the park (but somehow don’t bring up that expensive Broadway show you took them on)?  Perhaps what they really want is simply your time and attention— and save the Broadway shows for later, when they’ll appreciate them.  Your kids know what makes a good mom.  Listen to them.  They are who matter, after all.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers!

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**It’s funny.  Because that is actually what Psychology Today says What Makes A Good Mother, Anyway?

  1. Staying attuned (Show your love)
  2. Minding Boundaries (Give them space to grow)
  3. Forsaking the Low Road (Okay, I trust that my friend does this, though she may not have told me so.)

Well, it seems like my friend is on a good track!