I wrote recently about wishing that I’d been more confident when Harley came home. Not about how to do things, that comes with time, but more that I wish I’d had the confidence to know that I’m the best mommy for Harley, that I’m doing the right things for her and that I really do know what’s best for her (at least for now). While part of that comes with time and experience, it’s also aided or hampered by the people around me – just having people I know and trust tell me how they see I’m a good mom makes me feel more confident. Contrarily, when people question my decisions or outright undermine them, it can make me wonder if I’m a good mom or if they’re right. I’ve heard many people talk about signs that you’re a good or a bad mom, and I thought I’d throw my two cents in (or maybe a bit more).
It’s hard to know if you’re a good mom, mostly because everything we do as parents is so long term. Sure, your kid might thrive developmentally, or might show signs of being well adjusted, but you just won’t know how you did as a parent until months, years or decades down the line. There are some things you can pick up on along the way, and hopefully these help you when you have those moments of doubt. Or, at least I’ll have a post to come back and read when something makes me wonder it for myself. You know you’re a good mom if…… You worry. Worrying is a sign that you care, that you are thinking about the future. You worry because you want the best for your little one and you’re concerned that something might get in the way. So you worry if they will be okay at school, you worry if they have everything they need, you worry if they know how much you love them, you worry about way, WAY more than you ever thought possible.
… You feel guilty. I always want to do more for Harley. I feel bad that I don’t or can’t. I want to be a super mom, stimulating her all day, showering her with hugs and love, giving her everything she could want or need. But I also want to work, want to have time when I’m not holding her, time when I can feel like a real person. And that conflict means that I’m always feeling guilty, always feeling like I could be doing more. I’d say to stop feeling guilty, but I know it’s not that easy. Instead I will tell you that the sheer fact that you’re feeling guilty means that you are doing so much for your kid and always striving to do more.
… You get some of those smiles, hugs, kisses or other forms of affection. Those first few weeks are really hard, mostly because infants are blobs that can’t show love, affection or even recognition of their caretakers. Once they’re a bit older, though, you start getting that love, even if it’s in weird ways. Harley still doesn’t really know how to give hugs or kisses, but she does reach her arms out for me. She does climb onto me and push her face into mine. She knows who I am and how to make herself close to me. And that makes me just want to squeeze her, kiss her and love her up. The fact that she knows who I am, is comforted by my presence and wants to be close to me? Surely that’s a sign that I must be doing a pretty okay job.
… You make time for yourself, even in the smallest or biggest ways. The expression so many people use is that “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. We give so much of ourselves to our kids, it’s important to also take care of ourselves. Whether it’s getting your hair done, having a couple hours for yourself or just taking a shower on your own, we all need to take time to recharge, to reconnect with ourselves and then be ready to give those little soul suckers our all again.
… You get that feeling in the base of your stomach. It’s the hardest thing to explain, the kind of love you get for your kid. I mean, I love my husband, my mom, my friends, my cats. I love them deeply and meaningfully. But the love for my kid is profound in a way I can’t even begin to put into words. It comes in moments, probably because I don’t think humans can hold onto that intense a feeling of love for extended periods of time. But it feels like my whole heart is reaching out to hold her, to marvel at her, to simply love her. When I feel how much love I have for my oh so little girl, I know that I’m a good mom.
What are your signs of good motherhood? Do you compare yourself to someone else, see reactions in your kids, or does it come from within?