A Good Mother: The Mother I Strive to Be

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As the 40-something mother of an active four-year-old boy, I have an ongoing struggle to make it through each week of activities, play dates, snack time, story time, bath time, bedtime, meal planning, groceries, cooking, dishes, laundry, organizing, managing household finances and housework. I blog, yoga, scrapbook, read and play on social media in my “spare” time. I get the occasional date with my husband of seven years and some fun moms nights out. I do the best that I can. But I always feel like there is something better or more I could be doing to be a good mother.

As a mother, I have struggled with the fundamental question of my identity after making the choice to stay at home with my child while he is young. Before I had the baby, when someone asked me about myself, I always led with my career “I do communications.” Since I put my career on pause after maternity leave, I have struggled with what to say, veering from “I used to do communications but now I stay home with my child” to “I do part-time freelance work” to “I’m a stay at home mom” or “I blog” – all of which have been true at some point over the past few years.

During last week’s inspirational talk in Vancouver, Oprah proposed that the questions you really need to answer are “Why are you here? or “What is your calling?” My aha moment as I write this is that I have actually found some answers during my years of motherhood and struggles with identity.

I am called to be a mother and a writer.

For a long time, I was a writer who didn’t write. Of course, I’ve written tons of business communications for my job but nothing for myself that I was passionate about. Now that I have my blog The Write Mama, I write for the fun of it. I write because I must. I write about being a mother.

We struggled for so long to become pregnant and when our son came into our lives I was in awe. I am so in love with this little person who surprises me and amazes me everyday with his antics and accomplishments. I am so thankful for my husband who loved me through my fear of never being able to have our child and never let me give up no matter what. Our family is complete and the question I had in the back of mind over the years about what is missing has been answered now that I am a wife and mother.

But being a mother – a good mother – is a tricky little ledge to stand on.

Who could forget this cover story by Time, “Are you Mom Enough?” This article discussed the popular attachment parenting method developed by Dr. William Sears,  but what stunned the world and got people talking was this photo of Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old boy. a good mother: the mother I strive to be I’m certain that Jamie Lynn chose attachment parenting because she believes following Dr. Sears’ methods of developing a close bond with her child will make her a good mother.

The truth is, breastfeeding is easy for some moms and a struggle for others. For me, as the mother of a premature baby, breastfeeding was extraordinarily difficult in the beginning, but something I could do for my son when I felt so helpless about the situation we were in. Each of us needs to make our own choices about whether to breastfeed, how long to breastfeed and when enough is enough. What was really unfortunate about this photo was the way it invited us to judge Jamie Lynne who,  just like every other mother, is doing the best she can.

a good mother: the mother I strive to be

And who could forget the headlines last year when Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, declared she would work through a two-week maternity leave. A couple of months after giving birth, she went on to declare that having a new baby is easier than everyone made it out to be.When I heard about this, I was torn. I am impressed that Marissa Mayer is one of the most powerful women in business. She has broken through the glass ceiling and is enjoying tremendous career success.  We need to see women and mothers being successful in their chosen careers. My choices could not be more different than Marissa’s, but I respect her accomplishments.

However, I am disappointed at how she is currently portraying motherhood to the media –  that maternity leave is something you should or could work through and that having a baby is easy. I don’t think this is a good message to send to any mother – but maybe it is the message she thinks you need to send to your Board when you take on a new senior executive position and announce you are pregnant.

I don’t want to judge Jamie Lynne, Marissa or anyone else. Let’s – as mothers – join together to support each other up on that ledge. There is too much judgement already.

Because the truth is that having a child is not easy. And being a mother – a good mother – is one of the hardest things I have ever done. You might remember Jann Arden’s lyrics to her song A Good Mother:  

“I’ve got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair.
I’ve got a friend who loves me, Got a house, I’ve got a car.

I’ve got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here. Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.”

This is the kind of mother I strive to be. One who is present. One who is kind. The heart of my family. The voice of love, support and understanding – someone to talk to no matter what. A mother who will set boundaries and says yes to love and no to unreasonable behaviour. The kind of mother who will encourage my son to be himself and to find his own happiness in life, wherever that takes him. I strive to be the kind of mother who explores and follows my own calling and purpose in life. So that I might help my son discover his.

The honest truth is that sometimes I fail. I get mad and forget to be kind.  I speak too quickly and then remember to start with understanding. I want to work on the computer instead playing with my son. I have to pause and remember why I am here …

I am a mother. A good mother. This post is part of a blog series with my fellow Top Mommy Bloggers. To follow this series, visit the bloggers site on the date indicated.

Tuesday, Jan 22 – Tairalyn from Little Miss Mama
Wednesday, Jan 23 – Melissa from The Thirites Grind
Thursday, Jan 24 – Amy from 
The Connections we Share
Friday, Jan 25 – Julie from 
JulieNowell.com
Monday, Jan 28 – Eschelle from Mumfection
Tuesday, Jan 29 – Taslim from Let ME out!!
Wednesday, Jan 30 – Katie from World by Smith
Thursday, Jan 31 – Lori from The Write Mama
Friday, Feb 1 – Kristina from Swank Mama
Monday, Feb 4 – Brandee from One Crazy Kid
Tuesday, Feb 5 – Jessica from North Shore Mama

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15 thoughts on “A Good Mother: The Mother I Strive to Be

  1. Lori,
    This post is so very well written and while reading it I couldn’t help to agree with you on so many levels. I love it how you’ve taken the stand to not judge those other moms in the media but to encourage others to stand together on the motherhood front instead. Being a mom is hard work and it doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-home one or a working one. I think it’s lovely that you chose to be at home with your son and I think you’re love of writing shines through your words.

    1. Thanks Eschelle. I loved your post too on Mumfection!! This blog train is so much fun – seeing everyone’s different perspectives…

  2. Lori,
    Great post. I too have struggled with my identity as I made the choice to stay at home and put my career on pause indefinitely to be the best Mom I can be to my daughter. I always wonder too,when Moms make comments like, this Mom thing is easy what it would be like to walk in their shoes. I had a very high pressure job before I stayed at home and I would say that the day to day of staying at home is a lot less stressful than what I did before and loving my daughter is easy but being a mom isn’t always easy. Because as you point out being our own perception of a good mom can be one of the toughest challenges. For me the easy part is the caring and loving part. I love to be around her, I’ve never been bothered by diapers or messes. I struggle with the if I were at work could I afford to give her things she needs more than me being at home? Should I try and teach her to read by the age of two or just let her be a kid? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Is she eating enough vegetables? Shebis allergic to dairy, soy and corn; will her bones be strong enough when she’s older? How do I get this baby who isn’t even 18 months old and has more spirit, will and temper than I did at age 16 to obey without breaking that spirit, will and stubbornness that may serve her well and is part of the little girl I am so in love with? Those are the questions of a good mom who struggles to find the best for her child. What I try and remind myself before I judge myself or other moms is if we are worry about the details it probably means we have the broad strokes motherhood down and if somebody else is worrying about the broadstrokes then they are doing to the best they can with what they have to be good moms.

    1. I love your comments Jennifer. I share so many of the worries you have shared and your right in that it’s the details. I think as your little one gets older, you let go of some of the details and get to enjoy motherhood more as well…what we need to do more as mothers is just enjoy the ride 🙂

  3. Great post Lori. I really enjoyed reading your perspective on motherhood. I do believe that those of us who strive to be good mothers (whether working or stay at home) don’t take the time to just enjoy being a mom or just enjoy our children because have a tendency to always be worried about other things. I will definitely be taking the time to try to focus more on enjoying life as a mother after reading your post. Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. I agree that we should not judge other mothers since each of us has her own style or method of raising her kid. However, all moms are equal on the love we have for our children and we have to recognize that we can do well to support each other on the gigantic task of motherhood. We know the feeling, because, this is how we are, as mothers.

  5. What a great reminder that we can only strive to be our best, knowing there are no perfect moms! I totally agree that we need to stop the judging and embrace the fact that we as moms are trying to do what’s best for our children and everyone’s opinion of that is going to be different. I recently wrote a post about how I feel inadequate as a wife and a mother, but that it’s ok. I’m an imperfect mom and that’s ok! Because I’m an imperfect mom loved by a Perfect God 🙂
    Here is my post I wrote on this exact topic. I generally don’t post links in my comments, but I’m sharing it because your post spoke to me !

    http://www.crayonmarksandtigerstripes.com/437/im-an-imperfect-mom-and-thats-ok/

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