I want to be a good mom. After I had my son, Oliver, I aspired to fit an unattainable mold of a good mom; I wanted to be as caring as Mother Theresa, with the grace of Princess Diana, the body of Jessica Alba, and the wisdom of Oprah–everyday, all the time. I read parenting books, hand-made countless cognitive inspiring baby activities, prepared the most wholesome baby food; I worked my ass off to show my husband, my family, on looking strangers and my son that I was created to be the most incredible mother to ever live.
I was one dimensional.
I was exhausted.
I was losing myself.
After having my second, Eleanor, I realized that I was trying to do everything and be everything for my children, and now with two I couldn’t keep up. I still try to be everything for them, but I have taken a step back and thought of a way to feel more successful as a mother EVERY DAY.
I realized all my exhaustive efforts were fueled by an abstract motivation-Good Mom. But what is that? When I began to question my motives I yearned for a definition, something tangible, maybe even a check-list to anchor me down when I began to spin out of control grabbing for the vision of mother idol that had been built in my mind by my husband, my family, books, friends, tv shows, social media, child development courses, and comparisons with other mothers. I was creating a vision based off all my external influences and had neglected my own voice of mother’s intuition, so I stopped spinning, sat quietly and asked: What is important to you? What will validate you as a good mother? I lived in this question, wrote, pondered and only discussed with myself. I derived a short list. I found three things that I committed to do every day that will fulfill my definition as a good mom.
But first, I made rules for my short list.
Rule #1: The action must be attainable every day.
I wrote down, “Uphold a clean room and household” and quickly erased it. I actually marked it out with a bold red marker. I decided that I couldn’t do that every day and cleanliness is not an action that contributes to my definition as a good mom. I also envisioned myself trying to live up to this self-imposed expectation and immediately became cranky and stressed. This definition should free you from these feelings as its motive is to keep you connected to your true mama essence, Ommmmm.
Rule #2: The action must connect with your own personal values.
The reason for building your own personal definition of a good mom is to make you happy. I decided my definition had to align with my values as a person; otherwise, I’d just feed into the external vision of motherhood that drove me crazy. I question: What are your values? How can your definition grow from that? What do you want to look like as a mother, everyday?
Rule #3: The action must be simple and take 5 minutes or less.
Life is busy for everyone. Not just for moms, but especially for mom. I decided the actions which make up my definition must be simple and take five minutes or less. This way I can commit to doing them at least once a day, possibly more than once.
Ok-so here’s the definition I prescribed myself to be a good mom.
1. I will look my kids in the eyes every day.
2. I will read to (or with) my kids every day.
3. I will feed my kids at least one green thing every day.
Check, check, check. Done. Voila- I’m a good mom. I have committed to fulfilling these three things every day. Of course, I will continue to pack a healthy lunch, dive into hour long Pinterest searches for enrichment activities, have heart to heart conversations, give them embarrassing hugs after soccer practice, and wash behind their ears AND if I have an off day and my work is overwhelming and my husband is on a business trip and our dog has shit all over the house and I haven’t washed my hair in a couple days, I CAN commit to accomplishing my short list thereby going to bed every night (after an easy day or hard day) satisfied because I have fulfilled my own definition of a good mom.
I want to add a brief caveat: my short list is NOT set in stone. It is flexible and open to be revisited. But a prerequisite is to go through the laws and abide by those prior to redefining.
I’m writing this because I may not be the only mama in the world needing a code to settle into a heart-centered vision of motherhood. Maybe creating a short list will help another mama? Either way, this article has been beautifully cathartic for me. I appreciate a platform to share.