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How A Simple Shift in Perspective On Mothering Can Make Us More Grateful (and an Even Better Mom)

good mother bad mother

(3 minutes) I am paralyzed by the thought of being a bad mother. A mother who royally screws up my kids. It would be so much easier to know the right and wrong ways to parent. Wouldn’t it?  I wish I was given an instruction manual upon delivering my first daughter (along with the swaddle blanket and beanie).  I wish I could find the definition of “good mom” in Webster’s Dictionary (yes, I still use that archaic thing). You know the answer is really not out there when you google “how to be a good mom” and there’s only one result with a matching title (and when you click you learn that it’s actually about habits that make you a better mom).

Without direction, parents are left to figure it all out for themselves, which leads to good parenting and unfortunately, bad parenting. We have all seen and done our fair share of both. In an attempt to avoid the latter (as much, and as often as possible), I wanted to figure out the top 5 most important things I can provide my children to ensure they have a happy and healthy upbringing.

  1. What are the most important values that I should instill upon them?  
  2. Do I only want to be seen as their mother? Or do I also want to be a friend?
  3. How much should I discipline them?
  4. How honestly should I answer their questions?
  5. Where is the line between spoiling my children and providing them with things they want?

These questions echo in my head on a constant basis. One could even say I am obsessed with finding the answers.  Naturally, it leads me to reflect on my own childhood – my  upbringing. By that, what I really mean is that I think about the relationship I had with my mother. Not because my dad wasn’t part of our family. But because, like it or not, mothers arguably play the most significant role in shaping their offspring. (it can all be traced back to Freud, one of the most infamous psychoanalysts to date). Despite shifts in the traditional/stereotypical parental roles, the relationship between a mother and her child remains the most influential.

Recognizing this, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, my goal has been to figure out how I can parent differently than my mother. How do I want to change things? How am I going to be a better mother? Because if I’m a better mother, my kids will be even better than I am.

But then it hit me: If they turn out like me (or my husband), I would be thrilled. I am an entrepreneurial mother of two beautiful children, in a wonderful marriage, with a happy, successful, and devoted husband. We aren’t alcoholics, shopaholics, drug addicts, abusers, gamblers, in debt – you get the picture. Ultimately, I am a financially responsible, independent, functioning member of society.

So, despite my initial reactions, it’s clear that my mother must have done a few things right. Therefore, I stopped scrutinizing every little thing I want to change. And instead, I  decided to shift my perspective on mothering and think about all the things that my mom did right. I decided to be grateful for the things my mother taught me – the things worth repeating with my own children.

Gratitude Worthy

  • Giving of herself – always having time for me.
  • Making me feel safe and secure.
  • Being supportive of my decisions.
  • Telling me the truth about when I am right / when I am wrong (with friends, siblings, and romantic relationships).
  • Giving me just the right amount of freedom while growing up.
  • Trusting me.
  • Being my biggest cheerleader.
  • Teaching me valuable life lessons.

Most memorable traditions

  • My bed always turned down when I came home late.
  • My mom scratching my back to wake me up in the mornings.
  • Long late night talks – always interrupted by dad’s trip to the bathroom.
  • Covering me with a blanket while I lay on the couch watching tv.
  • Pajama days, eating hors d’oeuvres and watching movies.
  • Chocolate chip cookies after playing in the snow.
  • Art projects: belts, pic frames, books, plant holders.
  • Class mom & field trips.
  • Road trips to places near and far.
  • Mother Daughter days together – shopping, lunch, spa.

It was during this process that I realized how truly wonderful my mother is, and how grateful I am to have her as a role model during my own journey as a mom. Even though she made mistakes along the way (some significant ones) the important thing that I focus on is that she had good intentions and always did her best. And because of that, everything seems to have worked out ay-okay.  

If I can do what she did – nothing less, nothing more – I’ll be ahead of the game.  

And my kids? Well, they’re doubly blessed, because they not only get me…they get my mother too!

I challenge you to take the time to think about your own mother and childhood and create your own list.  If I can put together this long one with my terrible memory…you can no doubt do the same.  After you’re done, I encourage you to share not only share it with your children, but also with your mom (if she is still with us).  Perhaps she will come to learn about things she did that you remember and/or appreciate that she never knew before.  This simple exercise will prove to be a win-win on your journey to being the best mom (and daughter) you can be.

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