You are a good mom
Genesis of youareagoodmom
A few years ago, when my first child was 2 years old, I was talking to a younger, female colleague who did not have children at the time about being a mom. “I think I’m a really good mom” I stated as I started telling her about some complicated tantrum that morning likely related to how much milk I had poured into the cereal bowl...
My colleague stopped me before I could go and said: “Wow. I’ve never actually heard someone say they are a good mom before”. I was momentarily stunned. I took stock – was this a stuck up thing to say? Am I a good mom? I asked myself silently. The answer from within came back loud and clear - "yes, you are a good mom". I don’t remember how I responded in the moment, but that exchange has stayed with me. And it has made me even more determined to say this to other women: You ARE a good mom! And to really believe it for myself especially in harder times.
Fast forward to today, I am a mom with 2 kids now (almost 3 and almost 6 years old). I work full time and find my work interesting and meaningful. I have an amazing, loving, funny, sometimes obnoxious, and 100% partner husband. I am very, very lucky. We work super hard each and every day to make sure we aren’t just “surviving” this special time with young kids, but thriving, enjoying and savoring as much as possible.
I can’t tell you the number of times in the past few years that strangers have seen me out and unprompted come up to me to say with a knowing smile “the days are long, but the years are short”. I always smile back at them because I know that this comment is more about them than me. I know they don’t mean to tell me that I look frazzled at the grocery store or that I should be enjoying the screaming. Because I also deeply agree and know that these times ARE special, and I know deep in my bones that I will miss them one day. Even as I long for more quiet time. Or to sleep in. Or to spend an entire day doing nothing. Or to go on long hikes again with my husband like we used to do every weekend and just talk without anyone slowing us down or interrupting us.
I can hold and know both of these truths. That this time is amazing, hard, special and important. That it is also hectic and often a huge test of my strength, marriage and patience. That I am so incredibly privileged and still I find this phase of life challenging.
Sometimes when we are having a “lots of screaming” day I repeat "I am a good mom" in my head over and over as I take deep breaths and try not to look at my child who often screams “don’t look at me!” while having a tantrum. Similar to how I worked hard for years to know I am worthy of love and belonging deep within myself, I also work very hard at being a good mom. A mom that isn’t guilty. A mom that feels joy. Also a mom that feels lots of annoyance and, at times anger, but doesn’t have to react to that annoyance / anger or project it onto my kids. Obviously I don’t always succeed, and on those occasions when I lose my temper, I try to take the time once I’ve calmed myself to apologize directly to my child for the specific things that I am authentically sorry for. These are great teaching moments for my kids. And I’ve also observed my older child mirroring this behavior, which makes me very proud.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I decided to go to therapy and try to figure out my own reactivity and how I wanted to parent. I realized over the past few years how incredibly important the first few years of a child’s life are for setting up a lot of their own reactivity and potential “issues” later on in life. Also I realized that children ages 2-4 are not rational beings (no, not just yours - all of them!), and it can be a hard and isolating time for parents. And I’ve found through many honest conversations with other brave parents that many of us wonder what is wrong with our children or us (the answer is nothing!!!)
And yet, if we can hang in there through the hard years and make it through to 5 and beyond and accept all of the feelings and really see our children, I think we can set them up for a lifetime of secure attachment, more awareness and to be much more well adjusted. I’ve seen it with my own spirited daughter, especially through the hard times of when our second was born.
I've done a lot of research on parenting over the last 5 years, and I am deeply grateful for those that I've learned from. I am writing this blog because I want to share in case it helps anyone else to cherish this time, or know they aren’t alone. Deep down I really do believe that I am a good mom, and I hope you can believe if for yourself too.
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