Realizing You ARE a Good Mom
It is hard to find that one milestone when all of a sudden you stop worrying and realize that you are a good mom. Chances are that you still have those moments of self-doubt when you question if you are up to the task. Feeling like a mom can be like sitting on an emotional roller coaster: some days you are up high and everything clicks; other days you wonder if it’s ever going to be better – and the kids are not even teenagers yet!
When I finally figured out that all my daughter needed was to be taken outside when she was crying, life changed from horrible to bearable in almost an instant (it was tough to get outside with two feet of snow on the ground every time she cried, but spring arrived soon enough to make things even better). And when she was just born, she would take the nipple on the bottle and sip a little here and there, eating a little bit every twenty minutes, turning our entire day and night into one long feeding and burping session. Then one day I realized that she needed to be challenged: if I held the bottle just far enough so that she had to work for it, she’d eat a full meal. She climbed out of the secured five-point harness of her stroller when she was 7 months old, screaming every time I took out the stroller, but stayed happily in the backpack for any length of time – as long as she could see the world from my perspective.
We can borrow a handy term form the psychology of learning and refer to these solutions as child-raising aha-moments: an aha-moment is the sudden realization of a solution, after mentally working through a problem. Once you’ve figured things out, any little thing, all you have to do is give yourself credit for these aha-moments. They are the proof that you are doing something good; remember them when things change and you feel out of control once again.
But don’t even wait for a successfully solved problem to feel like a good mom: just pat yourself on the back every time your child makes you proud! I used to tell people that every baby is beautiful and that I didn’t have anything to do with how our genes mixed and matched to create our precious baby doll daughter; but then I realized that I do have something to do with her beauty: I am doing a good job taking care of her. I also didn’t really teach her to be brave and go up to that goat that’s three times her size, but I presented her with the opportunity to see a goat. I am a good mom. I haven’t taken her to toddler ballet classes and we did not sign up for the accelerated learning pre-preschool program either, but we regularly visit the local library. She knows how to behave there and loves reading new books every week. I am a good mom, teaching her good behavior and the love of learning.
The child-raising aha-moments and all the times they make you proud are the two things that can always reassure you in your role as a mom. When you are heading downwards on that roller-coaster feeling like a terrible mother, try to remember all the past accomplishments (yours and theirs) and keep loving them the way only you can, because you are their good mom.