Before I had my son, I had all of these rules and expectations as a parent.
- No TV, only books.
- Only organic fruits and veggies and grass feed cattle.
- No inappropriate music or movies.
- Required 2 hours of outdoor playtime.
- In bed by 8:30 pm.
- Room will be kept clean.
- Clothes will be kept tidy and neat.
- And so on…
I knew that if I followed these best practices, I would become a great mom.
So far, I’ve followed none of the rules.
- My son watches TV for a few hours each day,
- Eats very little outside of frozen waffles, pizza and hot dogs, and doesn’t really care to play outside.
- We listen to music together and I don’t censor my own taste, so he’s screwed.
- His room is never neat for long, and I usually clean it up.
- His bedtime is more along the lines of 9-9:30 pm.
- And I’m lucky to get clothes on him, let alone neat and tidy ones.
- And he even uses his tablet on the toilet!
Even though I didn’t follow my own rules of motherhood, I still think I’m a great mom with lots of room to grow.
Most mothers I know have broken the rules of “good motherhood.” But this begs the question, if we don’t follow the rules, how will we identify a “good mother?” I know mothers who sit on welfare, and love their children very much. I know mothers who bribe their kids with candy, and still care about their health. I know mothers who allow their children to listen to the radio unfiltered, and still will wash their child’s mouth out with soap if they utter a dirty word. These contradictions are what make mothering the toughest job on the planet.
I think as mothers we must give ourselves a break, and understand that we are complex and imperfect people. Sometimes we are too tired to cook, so we feed our kids McDonald’s instead of something healthier. Or we don’t feel like managing an arts and crafts project, so we let the TV babysit. Moms shouldn’t feel guilty every time they don’t live up to a preset notion of perfect mothering because with all of the rules we break, there are so many more we follow.
I love my son and tell him so regularly. I put him to bed at a decent hour on school nights. I teach him to be obedient. I instill in him the importance of an education. I take him out to play and have fun. I do a lot of things right, but I’m just not perfect.
My mothering is a work-in-progress, but it is based on a very solid foundation of love and acceptable, so I think my son will turn out okay– even without the grass feed cows!