Friday, November 20, 2009

How to be a perfect mom...or a good one, at least...

There was a sign in a store the other day--you know, the ones that look tole-painted but are made in China and say things like "Today is filled with the hopes of tomorrow." While they're all lovely sentiments, I find I don't really pay attention to what they say. Well, the other day I smiled when I saw this sign. Maybe this is a common cliche, but I liked it.

There is no one way to be a perfect mother, but there are a billion ways to be a good one.

Ah-ha. That's it.

In the early days of Kieran's life, when it felt like advice flowed as freely as the breastmilk he refused to drink, I remember thinking that I really sucked. I would certainly be rotten mother. As I fought against the instincts that told me to keep trying to nurse, to let my baby sleep beside me, to answer his cries, I remember one day stopping in my tracks and realizing something that has carried me through some pretty tough parenting moments.

There are many ways to raise a child.

What works for one person, doesn't work for another. What helps one child sleep sends another into a frenzy. One baby might nurse like they've discovered the nectar of the gods, while another (like mine) will scream and arch for two weeks until he makes up his mind about the whole situation.

I'm not against getting advice. Much of the advice from other moms has helped me greatly. But, as Jackie says, it's not all or nothing.

So...I've been thinking about what makes me a good mom. How often do we truly pat ourselves on the back?

This is what I cherish in my own mothering, because these things work for our family...

I stay with my child until he falls asleep.

I count his blessings with him every night--and I try REALLY hard not to react when he says he's thankful for shopping...

I read to my son.

I try not to "teach" him things--I do things with him and hope he'll glean the skills.

I bake with him.

We go for aimless walks around the neighbourhood.

I sing to him...poor little soul.

I feed him good food.

I make sure he gets his rest.

I hug him...a lot.

We do lots of art...and I try not to take over...sigh...

I repeat his feelings to him...and I don't insist that he be happy and agreeable all the time.

I laugh with him.

Of course, the list of things that make me feel guilty is much longer. But after making this list, I feel pretty darn good that I'm doing okay. Do it now. Make a little list of the ways you're a good parent. It's important to know what we're doing right. We need something to hold onto when we get clocked in the side of the head with an airborne Lightning McQueen or accidentally drive down the road with the car door open.

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