Sometimes, I have received very kind compliments from others about me being a “good mom”. That phrase always made me a little uncomfortable and it would leave me thinking thoughts like: “Clearly they didn’t see me pull into the Taco Bell drive thru last night with both gingers in tow blasting Highway to Hell and cursing at the car in front of us for checking over their 8-mile long receipt 5 times before driving away and liberating our impatient asses from a close brush with death by starvation! Yeah, maybe I should keep that mom moment to myself if I want to keep my community gold stars.”
And, rewinding several years back, at the beginning of my new role as a single parent, I found myself making compromises I never thought I would make, which led to even greater feelings of inadequacy and self-shaming as a parent. It was in these times, that I finally figured out why I had so much trouble with the phrase “good mom”. It occurred to me that, if my goal is to be a “good mom” then the goal is focused on me, not my daughters. And what makes a “good mom” anyway? Who approves those qualifications in the Good Mothering for Dummies manual? If you gave the manual-approval task to let’s say…Kim Kardashian, J. K. Rowling or your first grade teacher, they would all go to print as very different manuals. Furthermore, even if we could agree on a standard manual, if my children should make bad choices, does that automatically make me a “bad mom”? According to some members of society, the answer would be a resounding YES, BITCH! I see one major problem that I believe has created unnecessary suffering from the notion that we are or are not “good parents”:
When we seek to be good parents, we make it about ourselves and this puts us in danger of having unrealistic expectations on our kids that may have little or nothing to do with their own unique path in life or what they actually need. Wanna know how I know this? I can remember on more than one occasion coming down hard on ginger #1 because others were watching and I felt like they were waiting for me to deal with my toddler’s seemingly insubordinate behavior when my mother’s intuition was telling me there was more to it than that and I should dig a little deeper.
Unfortunately, my ego won out many times before I figured out that this child was not simply trying to get her way or rebelling, but that she was painfully shy, sensitive and easily embarrassed and was trying to literally hide from unwarranted punishment or shaming. In other words, my need for approval from other parents caused me to dish out punishments that didn’t always have an offense attached to it (or that didn’t fit the offense). This resulted in, not only unwarranted punishment, but it heaped on more of the disapproval she was so desperately trying to avoid. I’m sure you can imagine what little value any “good mom” compliment might have upon that realization.
Standing in a parent-focused mindset makes moms and dads vulnerable to “performing” for other parents. If we get caught up in performance, we will inevitably start hiding the things our pride won’t allow us to talk about with other people in the community. When we drench our children’s taboo behavior or poor choices in secrecy, we give it far greater power than it ever should’ve had and we cut ourselves off from potential support for ourselves and our struggling children. Ego has a way of putting a gun to our heads and making us believe that we are holding a wisdom dispenser.
It shows up as denial. It says: “I need things to go smoothly so I can maintain the weight of this fake ass smile that I’m holding up in front of my resting bitch face.” It says: “I don’t know what to do about my child’s drug addiction, pregnancy, depression, (fill in the blank) and I’m terrified of the rejection and slander we may face from the community.” It remorsefully cries: “I’ve made some mistakes as a parent and no one would love me if they knew about it.” And these are thoughts that keep us quiet and keep us doing nothing, hoping it isn’t as bad as we thought and that it might just go away if we close our eyes tight enough. Wanna know how I know?
What would happen if we eliminated our ideas about what a “good” or “bad” parent is? How might we be able to support each other through the beautiful and yet, agonizing travels through parenthood and make it a better trip for everyone involved, namely our children? What would be possible if we could allow ourselves to show up boldly and be willing to receive support but also create a safe space for others to receive it as well?
I don’t mind going first, so stay tuned for more exciting tales about a mom who loves her daughters with reckless and crazy love and who often fails miserably at being the mom she envisioned she’d be the day they came into the world. If you want to feel better about your parenting skills by comparison, you will find that here for sure. If you want more for your children, your family and the collective consciousness that spans the Universe, plan on nothing short of an Evolution Revolution.