Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lesson 6: I Am a Good Mom

Lesson #6: I Am a Good Mom

Yesterday, I met another mom in the play area at Chickfila (a far cry from the days of meeting new friends at happy hours and house parties - Haha, clearly I'm confused about my past life!). Anyway, she was wrangling her kids to leave as we were coming in, so the customary "how old are your kids?" conversation was quick.  But, in between shouts for her older child to come out of the play tunnels, she managed to squeeze in an embarrassed "He doesn't usually drink Coke" as she fought her 20 month old for control over the Styrofoam cup.  It was pretty obvious that two seconds before - when they had been alone in the play area - she was quite fine with him taking a few sips (or twelve) from her drink; but, the dreaded Mom Guilt immediately entered the scene with my arrival.  I just laughed and smiled; but, what I really wanted to say was... "It's ok.  I still think you are a good mom.  I get that sometimes we just need five minutes without somebody crying or whining or asking for something; and we take it however we can find it... Even if it comes in the form of sugary caffeine through a straw and a stinky restaurant play land.  I get it.  You are a good mom."

I should have said that.  She probably would have thought I was crazy; but, I still wish I had.  

... A mere two hours later, I had my own "mom of the year" moment, only it was much more serious. 

As I was carrying in an armload of Target bags from our afternoon out, I set Sam down at the door so I could get my keys and unlock it - just as I've done hundreds of times before.  He headed for the front porch steps almost immediately, but I didn't even give it a second thought because he has been climbing up and down them like a champ since he was eight months old. But this time, just as I opened the door and turned around to grab him and take him safely inside, I watched that sweet little bald head hit the first concrete step once on the front, followed by the rest of his body tumbling down stairs two and three, and another good bump on the back of the head.  It was like a slow-motion scene in a cheaply made movie. Don't get me wrong, he bumps that big noggin of his about 65 times a day, and he has the bruises the prove it (no joke, I was mortified the last time I took him the doctor);  but this one took my breath away.  This one made me a crazy momma calling all my doctor friends and thanking God over and over and over that it wasn't more serious than it was.

Albeit he looks like he's been in a street fight, he is FINE.  (No vomitting, no uneven pupils, no personality changes - I've got the checklist down.)  His recovery took all of five minutes before I found his pacifier and administered a dose of Children's Tylenol.  My recovery, on the other hand, was an all day event...

When accidents happen - and we've already had a small share - it is hard not to beat yourself up. What kind of mother lets their toddler play on concrete stairs? Or drink soda, for that matter? BUT, I noticed yesterday that my attitude about it all is changing... Almost as soon as I realized things were OK, I started repeating my mantra in my head until I actually believed it.  "I am a good mom. I am a good mom.  This was not my fault.  I am a good mom."  (I'm sure you think I'm crazy by now, but I guess I'm OK with that... I say, a little self-talk never hurt anybody!)

OF COURSE, I want to protect my baby from injuries and bad habits and poor decisions.  (And, yes for the record, I'm sure I'd be singing a totally different tune if yesterday's accident hadn't turned out to be so harmless.) Of course, I was devastated by Sam's fall and realize that I'm responsible for him because he can't be responsible for himself. Of course, I wish I could spend every waking second playing with and teaching and watching him without ever needing a minute to myself.  But, the reality is that sometimes doors need to be unlocked and our hands are full.  Sometimes toddlers fall. It doesn't mean I'm a bad mom.
No, we aren't celebrating his fall... This photo was taken much later last night. :)
In the beginning of this journey, it would have taken me WEEKS to get to that place.  There was a time, I remember all too well, in the early months of motherhood where I thought every little speed-bump defined me as a mom.  A time when I allowed myself to believe the lies that "maybe I'm not cut out for this job" or "Sam deserves better than me."  BUT NOW, now that I know this road (not to mention myself) a little better; I'm beginning to see things more for what they really are.  I am beginning to trust myself and find my identity as a mom in my love for that little man far beyond the mistakes I make.

As I was holding my sleeping baby last night (yes, he deserved a little extra spoiling after his scary fall), I was thinking about how what Sam deserves is a momma who believes she is good at being his momma.  I don't want a doctor who goes around talking about how terrible he is at surgery and how many mistakes he's made.  (Although, maybe that isn't a good example; because I really don't want a doctor that's made a lot of mistakes at all... But, you get what I mean.)

I'm hard on myself a lot on this blog.  I like to point out the silly (and sometimes not) "bad mom" things I do.  I like to keep it real and tell you all the ways I don't have it all together.  And, believe you me, I still intend to do that; I think those things are important (and funny). But, at the bottom of all that, is the deeper belief that things are just as they are supposed to be.  That Sam is happy and loved, and he has a mom that isn't afraid to dole out healthy doses of grace - even to herself.
I am a good mom.

You are too.
Learn that lesson fast and cling to it - it will make you even better!
This post is part of a series for 31 Days of Change hosted by The Nester. To see my other "lessons," click here.


  1. Thanks E - I needed this. I'm only 3 weeks into this Mom thing and was feeling like a terrible mother yesterday. thanks for the reminder to give myself a little grace in this process.

  2. Yes, PLEASE do. Three weeks is a HARD part. Read this post that I wrote at 3 weeks for even more "you are not alone"ness:

  3. Amy @ Croquet & CocktailsOctober 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    I feel like an over commenter, but every one of these posts strikes a chord and makes me want to comment. Thank you for being a reality check in this mom adventure. (And I'm sorry if my commenting all. the. time. makes me seem a little harmless, I swear!)

  4. You are absolutely NOT an over-commenter. I love it, and I'm so glad you can relate to my experiences! It is good to know we aren't alone in this!

  5. You are a GREAT mom and I loved this post. You are exactly right - every mom needs to hear that they are a doing a good job and needs to believe it! Thanks friend :). Oh and I've had the experience of your friend more times than I wish too admit with the prying of my diet coke out of their freakishly strong little hands!
    Liz McYorno :)

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