Motherhood for me seems to be broken down and defined by some key points. Here I will share them with you through this lovely and overwhelmingly accurate and scientific pie chart, drawn on a napkin I found in the truck while my dear spawn naps in the back seat.
As you can see, while there is a great portion of Love & Joy in this Motherhood Pie of emotions, there are also segments of less desirable and uncomfortable notions that, when added together, can cause the positive segment to be overcome with negativity.
Guilt. Terror. Frustration.
I’ve actually described motherhood as being about 50% overwhelming emotion of love and 50% sheer and utter terror mixed with guilt. Although I still feel this is a fairly accurate breakdown some days, I feel the above pie chart is somewhat more inclusive of the general day-to-day.
What does a mom have to feel guilty about?
“I’m not offering enough healthy food for my tot to grow properly.”
“I’m not providing the right routine to help my child develop healthy sleep patterns.”
“I got fed up and told my food-throwing, outlet-poking, top-of-the-couch-diving toddler to stop being a little prick.”
“I didn’t go to her when she cried.”
“I gave in and went to her when she cried.”
“I didn’t spend enough time today stimulating my little one with natural, open-ended, pesticide-and-bpa-free, brain-building, visually-appealing, sensory-rich one-on-one stimulation.”
“I gave her a handful of cookies and put her in front of the TV to have 5 minutes to get something done.”
I could keep going all day. Motherhood is wrought with guilt. And if it doesn’t come from yourself and your own guilty thoughts, there is always someone around who is happy to open your eyes to all the things you’re doing “wrong”.
Why would a mom feel so much terror?
We are responsible for keeping a real, live little being living. One that doesn’t yet understand physics, gravity, poisons, sharp points and edges, teeth and claws, the importance of nutrition and hygiene, and why the toilet is not the best place to practice washing their hands and everything else that will fit in it.
The amount of times my heart leaps out of my body each and every day is, itself, exhausting. In fact, in discussion with some other mamas, we came to the conclusion that a big part of why we’re so exhausted by the time we go “off-duty” (Ha! Riiiiiight.), is that we’re always “on”. We’re always having to be present, alert, watching out of the corner of our eyes, and thinking 2 steps ahead about the possible outcomes of a situation to ensure the safe livelihoods of our wee ones.
I don’t feel I really need to explain why we might get frustrated, but I’ll give you a few key words to ponder:
Nnnnn nnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnn-ing.
And so on.
So, with all of this going on, full-force, constantly for the foreseeable future, one tends to fall victim to questioning herself.
“Am I a good mom?”
Well, just for you I have put together a short questionnaire to help you determine if you’re really as bad of a mother as you might feel like you are in your lowest moments. You know, when you’re deep in the trenches of screaming or poo. Or the dreaded combination of screaming and poo.
1. Do you or did you breastfeed?
If you answered “Hells yes! On demand, anywhere and everywhere until she’s at least 10”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered “Heck no! The bottle’s where it’s at and I have no interest in sharing my bossoms with my baby”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered anywhere in between, and nourished your child however you saw fit, you’re a good mom.
Thanks for feeding your babies.
2. What does night-time sleeping look like?
If you answered “We co-sleep until the cows come home (which on Salt Spring may be more than just an expression), whenever he communicates he’s tired”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered “We follow a strict bedtime routine and put him in his crib at precisely 7:02, then leave him to put himself to sleep without going to him until morning”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered anywhere in between the two, or even experience a night’s sleep (or some form of what that used to mean) completely apart from these scenarios, you’re a good mom.
Thank you for doing your best to give your child rest.
3. Did you or will you vaccinate your child?
If you answered “Of course! Every one, always on schedule”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered “Not a chance, poison pushers! I have natural means of combatting illness”, then you’re a good mom.
If you answered anywhere in between, or still have no idea what you “should” do about the vaccination debate, you’re a good mom.
Making big decisions for someone else’s life is really hard. Especially when everyone is so emotionally involved. Thank you for making thoughtful choices in the best interest of your child.
4. Do you feed your child nutritious meals and snacks?
If you answered “Nothing but organic and local whole foods from the 5 food groups touches our lips”, then you’re a good mom.
If you answered “I always choose the McDonald’s cheeseburger over the hamburger, since cheese is a food group (right?), and make sure he eats at least some of his fries (potatoes are a vegetable)”, then you’re a good mom.
We are all doing the best that we can. Thank you for taking the time and finding the funds to feed those hungry bellies.
5. Do you let your child watch TV?
If you answered “Gasp! Never! Only neutral, wooden, open-ended toys in our home”, you’re a good mom.
If you answered “Umm, how else would I make a meal? Plus, we enjoy our quality family time unwinding with a movie”, then you’re a good mom.
Answered somewhere in between? Guess what.
You’re a good mom.
The fact that you even question whether you measure up should be enough of a reminder that you’re a good mom. Remember raising children isn’t a little task. It’s not even a job, and it’s certainly not a hobby. It’s a role.
A demanding, unclear, exhausting and satisfying life role. And with any role you’re cast in, it’s up to you to make the role your own. To make your character into their own unique personality. Different children, different parents, different families, and different environments call for different measures.
You may not be Sally Homemaker or Crafty Cathy, but you make one heck of a mama.
YOU are exactly what your little one needs, and YOU are the only one they want.