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Monday, June 29, 2009

The good enough mother

I have read about this whole good mother/bad mother/SAHM/WAHM/WOHM thing for weeks now on the Internet. Some of you have discussed it and beautifully, I might add. It all fascinates me, this thought of what a good mother is supposed to be. I've pretty much ignored it, because honestly, I know I am a good mom. I also know I am a bad mom. In my world you can be both.

Today, after reading Mom 101's post about type B mom's, I can't seem to get this subject out of my head. I said this in Liz's comments and it is completely true: On my best day, I am only a B- mother.

But who says that is a bad thing? What makes a mom a perfect mom? Whose opinion matters about that, except your children's? We all think we are being judged and sometimes we are. I know I've been judged, many a time. However, I'm sure I think I am being judged way more than I probably am. Maybe a B- mom isn't such a horrible thing.

We all share on the Internet what we want too. This was something that Mom 101 was saying in her post. We tell each other what we choose to tell each other. Some are more honest than others. We are given a glimpse at each others lives, because we choose to share about it in this public space. It's only part of the story really. A small part for most of us.

Let me try this honesty thing for a second.

I, for the record, have never breastfed my children. Not because I see anything wrong with it (in fact, I find it to be beautiful), but because it wasn't something I felt I could do. I was a young mother, maybe that has something to do with it, maybe not. It just wasn't something I choose to do.

I sent my daughters to daycare at seven weeks old. I worked fourteen hour days sometimes in the early years of their lives. I know what it's like to work full time and wish I was at home with my kids. I also now know what it's like to be at home all the bloody time and wish I was elsewhere. I'm not sure that I'm good at either of it honestly.

My kids watch too much TV; they eat too much junk food; I consider french toast a dinner**; my son hangs out playing with spoons and Tupperware lids on my bed, while I play on the Internet; and some days I go and buy everyone new underwear, just because I don't want to do laundry.

My kids have ridden their bikes without a helmet a time or two because I got tired of the argument. They have gotten sunburned a few times because I was dumb enough to not put sunscreen on them. We do not have a safety net around our trampoline. I have yelled at them for having meltdowns and then realized I don't remember the last time they ate. My kids are not friendly when hungry, much less logical.

Somedays I yell at them, because of nothing. I regret those days. Other times they need to be yelled at and I let it go, to try and make up for the days where I yell too much.

My seven year old has way too much knowledge of the Internet and how to use it. My almost five year old can take the parental restriction off of the cable, without even trying. They both have iPods. They know what the menus at most restaurants have on them without needing to look anymore.

My girls are the most unscheduled kids in the neighborhood. In fact the only thing they've been scheduled for this summer is swimming and last week, they told me they just wanted to be able to just swim, not learn anything. So? I took them off of the list for the next set of lessons. There is no ballet, no gymnastics and no t-ball this summer. I should do those things, I am sure, but I just can't seem to make myself sign them up, because truly, then I'd have to get out of the house and take them.

I worry about all of this and much, much more. I wonder what my kids will remember from this time period of their lives. If they will remember that I took them to Disney and the beach this summer; that we slept in, stayed up late and went to the park every few evenings to swing in the dark. Will they remember me reading Harry Potter to them each night? Will they remember Sunday mornings spent in Jammies, having wii bowling and golf tournaments? Or will they remember that this was another summer where I was short with them too often, where I cried too much, where I sent them outside to play too often.

I wonder if they spend too much time at my BFF Kate's house. I wonder if they will one day prefer her, because she is that mom. The mom who does art projects. The mom who bakes things. The mom with all the patience of a saint. I am not that mom, although I adore that she is. I am thankful for her every single day. Is it okay that my kids spend so much time with my best friend? It has to be, because that's the way it is right now.

There is no rule book. They didn't come with an instruction manual. Trust me, I looked. And who says a B- mom is not enough? Who gets to make that judgement call? Who says a C mom isn't good enough? Because lots of days, I am only a C mom. A solid C even, no plus sign attached.

Some days I think my kids are the amazing people they are despite me. Some days I think it might be in spite of me. On occasion I think, dam I am doing something right.

My girls are kind to friends, strangers, animals and especially their family. They think highly of themselves and each other. Self esteem: they both have it. Self doubt? Yes, they have that too, but a lot less then I did at their ages. They are honest, strong, brave and inquisitive. They are everything I could of hoped for in daughters and everything I hope their brother gets too.

We all have days where we think we are horrible at this parenting gig, right? Those who say other wise are lying threw their over whitened teeth.

I? Am a good mother and also a bad mother. Maybe, I am the good enough mother. But that has to be okay too.

** Okay, here is another thing. We say things on the Internet, then realize that even in a post where we are being brutally honest, we choose to fib a bit. The truth is, my dinner default idea is currently cereal. I stole the french toast thing from my lovely friend Liz (also know as @elizzieh), because it sounded better than saying my family currently lives on cereal. French toast is actually her default dinner, not mine. Liz, who I have to thank for um everything, was kind enough to read this and not yell at me about stealing her idea. In fact had I not brought it up, she is so awesome, that she may never have said a word. See? This honesty thing is hard.


Liz said...

Kate might be 'That Mom', but she is not THEIR Mom. You adore them and do what works best for you as a family. They know and see that and adore you in return, I am sure. They will remember lazy Sundays and giggling and ice cream. Promise.

I think A+ moms are a myth.

And...? You are welcome to use the French Toast any time. ;-)

Anonymous said...

UGH. Why can't we all just get along? I mean really. One of the greatests things about this life is that we all get to do it our way. I love that your BFF can be THAT MOM for your kids. That's why they say "it takes a village." You get to be their mom, how you see fit and they will love you for just that. You are an awesome mom and love your kids like crazy and they WILL remember that. NO matter where you work!

Bridget said...

Sometimes I'm THAT mom(in a good way). Sometimes I'm THAT mom(in a bad way). Most of the time I'm just Mommy. My kids like days where we watch too much TV, and they also like days where we play house and swim and paint and read and cook dinner together. I think that as long as you're (mostly) happy and they're (mostly) happy, you're doing fine.

Avasmommy said...


As always, a beautiful post.

The perfect mom is a myth. I've said it before, if you are trying to do everything perfectly, you are setting yourself up for failure.

I'll bet when your kids look back on their childhood, they will do it fondly. That you were the mom that let them have Ipods, and french toast or cereal for dinner. That didn't schedule them to death and just let them be kids.

Anonymous said...

today, i surprised the kids and took them to the beach after school and we all got along beautifully. tomorrow, we'll probably yell at each other over pizza.

Just Breathe said...

Your parenting sounds good to me.
Don't worry about it. If you love your kids and they know you love them that's what matters.

Amazing Greis said...

You are the parent, not anyone reading this, not anyone on another blog, YOU! You parent your children the way you feel fit. You've got beautiful, healthy children, that's all that matters

You're a great mom and your children will always remember you for that. Sure, they'll remember other things as well, but they will always remember the fun things too! LOL



Kirsten said...

I think ALL mother's have "secret" behavior. We do what we need to do to get through the day. I sometimes even lie to my husband about how much TV the kids watched or what they ate during the day.

Who's to say mothering one way or another is better? It's like that Raffi song... "All I need is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family." Who cares if the food is Lucky Charms sometimes. You love them and you laugh with them and in the end I think all the rest is just details.

BTW. I am an amazing mother in my head, but in reality... not so much. I yell way more than in necessary and the other day my four year old son was frustrated with his lego tower and he said, "fucking legos."

Jaden Paige said...

I freakin' love you. This? Was awesome. Brilliant. So true. I'm almost jealous I didn't write it first ;)

Though some of the things could be subbed out (i.e., instead of going to the park to swing in the dark- which sounds wonderful, btw- will she remember that we had a mini-garden in pots that we took care of together?) it sounds so much like me.

I am banking on the fact that kids remember the good things... I mean, nobody has a perfect childhood. In fact, I have many friends whose childhoods sucked ass and still they turned out well and have decent relationships with their parents. We ARE good mothers, and just because we doubt ourselves from time to time- just because we know all of our own dirty little secrets about those things we sometimes fall short on- doesn't mean that we aren't. We love our kids, and THAT is what matters- THAT is what they're going to remember. :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I didn't realize that there was a big good mom/bad mom discussion going on... I must have gotten distracted by something pretty...

But funny enough, one of my old posts titled "I'm THAT Mom" is on Scary Mommy's site and it pretty much covers this topic.

In the end, I think we do the best we can and end up being the best fit for our own family. Good mom who bakes homemade oatmeal cookies for her kids would be completely lost on my group. Bad mom who whips up a batch of cupcakes and then hoards most of them for herself far better suits them. Or that's what I tell myself...

melissa said...

Just the fact that you care about being a good mom, makes you a good mom. They will remember the good times. I have two girls, a 9 year old & an 8month old and although I've had cereal nights, sat in front of the internet/tv and yelled enough to make my oldest cry - she still makes suggestions for me to do for her sister like read certain books at night, sing & dance around the house like no ones watching and hang out in front of the tv.
It's just being together they crave. Take this from someone who's mom was an "A-Mom" but to this day I cringe when she calls to say she wants to stop by because of the lack of relationship. Keep doing what's right for your family (stolen from Liz)

Anonymous said...

Unless you are a Ph.D. in clinical psychology working in a therapeutic environment it is best that you not admonish those of us who are Ph.D.'s about our comments regarding Heather Spohr. It is clear from comments that she is seriously depressed and could benefit from receiving help.

Avasmommy said...

Oh lord, here we go.

Hey, anyonymous - How bout you put your NAME on your post, Mrs. Ph.D?

Or is it possible, you only play one on the internet?

Do you know Heather personally? No? Do you know if she is already in therapy? No? Didn't think so. Then shut your mouth about things you know nothing about.

dawn224 said...

Dear Anonymous, If that is, indeed, your real name -

You say you have a Ph.D. Awesome. Good for you.

Now go make your OWN blog and dish out your opinion on IT and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.

My name is Dawn, I blog at and my email is contact at room704 dot us. Bring it.

moosh in indy. said...

so. can i be a doctor too? seems like they're just GIVING out those degrees online these days.

gorillabuns said...

Anonymous: if you are truly a Ph.D., would this be in Clinical Psychology or in Philosophy? or are you just a lab researching the effects of dope on rats? Either way, I hope to God you don't counsel anyone as I'm quite sure your suicide rate would be somewhere around 99%. The 1% would be the lucky one that got away.

Maura said...

Ooh, my turn!

"Dr." Anonymous - Your self-righteousness makes me laugh. Neither Issa nor I (or any of the rest of us who are Heather's friends -- let me repeat that: HER FRIENDS) need to have any sort of degree whatsoever to defend her or her other friends from attacks on OUR SITES.

None of us said that Heather might not benefit from help. But none of us are so sanctimonious to believe that a stranger can diagnose someone over the Internet, either.

Like Dawn said, bring it. But own it, bitch; don't you dare be anonymous and think that you can shit in our pool without us flinging it right back at your sorry, invisible ass.

Issas Crazy World said...

No anonymous, I have no Ph.D., although I doubt you do either. If you did, you would have possibly seen that Heather is grieving. One stage of that, so I've been told from my mother who does have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, is anger. Nothing wrong with anger really. In fact, it's a good thing if you ask me. It means someone is feeling something. Feelings are good. Did they not teach you that at Internet Ph.D. school?

Maybe you need to go back to school to learn the things that you didn't seem to learn the first time around. Telling someone to see a shrink is not helpful. We all know that is available to us. Doesn't make it helpful or nice as a comment. Especially in that post where Heather was writing from the heart. Really it just makes you jerk. Continuing to sprout off anonymous comments just makes you a douchenozzle.

What I am? Is a friend. Plain and simple. A friend. You might try it sometime.

Please shoo. You are not welcome here, any more than you were at Heather's place.

AMomTwoBoys said...

Dear Anonymous:

Since you're a PhD, I'm hoping you're an MD as well.

Could you take a look at my last few posts about my son and give me your opinion on his eyes? I'd REALLY appreciate it. A free second opinion would really help me, especially with the mounting medical costs.


And Issa? I love you. I think you're a great mother, and your kids are lucky to have you. xoxo

Lex said...

I'm a "good enough mother" too. And we like it that way.

Lex said...

Oh, yeah. Dr. Anon? Go away. Far away. You don't belong in our world.

Anonymous said...

I think good enough is all you can be. And I figure if I'm raising my kids right, that's all I'll ever need to be.

Anonymous Ph.D's in this world could learn a lesson or two about what is and isn't enough, though. Or about the ethics of diagnosing someone they've never met. But what do I-of-the-lowly-Master's-degree know?

Kay said...

Okay, first of all? Cereal is healthy.
Second... I'm another non-scheduler. I say it's because I want my son to have the freedom that I did as a child, without every minute of the day being structured, choosing instead to give him time to be a KID on his own terms. Truth is? Yeah, it means I'd have to take him.
But we survived (some might even say thrived) childhoods that didn't include 47 different types of lessons, summer camps, after school programs, etc. Instead, we learned to entertain ourselves.
I think most moms fall into the B-C category. It's just that so few want to admit it.
They'll remember a lot of things you wish they didn't, but they'll also remember fondly some of the things you claim make you a lesser mom - like the lazy weekend mornings, the ice cream you allowed for dinner, the things that make you feel like a bad mom.

mommymae said...

i know my kids do a lot of things they aren't 'supposed' to do, but they're healthy, smart, beautiful & happy & i don't give a fuck.

dr. phd, my ass. go fuck yourself in the earhole.

pardon my language, but i'm a bit cranky today.

dawn224 said...

Hi Anonymous, It's me Dawn, again.

I was wondering - is it your Bachelor of Science from California State University Sacramento, 1970, Psychology that qualifies you as an internet therapist?

No? Oh, it must me your Master of Science, University of Oregon, 1975 Special Education that qualifies you as an internet therapist.

Oh, No?

Then it MUST be your Doctorate of Philosophy,University of Oregon, 1986 Education Policy & Management that qualifies you as an internet therapist.

May I suggest that you ... how do I put this ...

Unless you are a Ph.D. in CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY working in a therapeutic environment it is best that you not admonish ANYONE.

Again, in case you have forgotten - My name is Dawn, I blog at and my email is contact at room704 dot us. Bring it.

gorillabuns said...

so what Dawn is so eloquently saying, when you received your Bachelor's the DSMII was in print. When I was one years old.

I do wonder what your boss would think knowing full well that you spew forth uneducational information during work hours? Because we all know you leave these comments during work hours.Don't make me prove it.

VDog said...

I'm sotally Type B. And I like it.

Also? Troll tipping is pretty fun.


VDog from and


Sarcastic Mom said...

Isn't it beautiful, the way we can connect the dots on Teh Internets, Dawn, GorrillaBuns?

I laugh. I laugh and laugh and laugh.

And then I get my box of dog shit ready to mail.

I lurve mah beeshes.

moosh in indy. said...

Still waiting for my PhD people.

ali (adil320) said...

I'm with you. I do what makes MY children happy and what works for OUR family. I don't understand why people need to judge and give opinions on something like that.

I was a kid who had an activity planned every day, and I spent most of my piano lessons and dance classes wishing I could just be playing outside with my friends.

Oh...and if mooshinindy gets a Ph.D I want one to!

And totally rock for going all CIA on her ass.

Lesley said...

I don't always comment (though I do always read!!) because I'm not a mom and I always feel like my trying to add my two cents might come off ridiculous because really...what do I know?? But times like this I just have to pipe up because 1) This post is EXQUISITE and 2) WTF is Anonymous doing here AGAIN and 3) there are some really amazing women commenting here, who should all be applauded for their eloquence and for so readily having your back. You know if you're pissing people off, you're doing something right, sister.

tom the girl said...

everybody KNOWS a PhD is like....super genius brilliant and they know everything about everything.


oh wait....i'm drunk and sarcastic.

go fig

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Um, hi, my name is Cyndy and you are my new BFF.
Seriously, I love this post and I only wish everyone were this honest. Because if they were, you and I both could feel less guilty and realize that we are SO not alone.

Becky said...

hey i can relate to all of this. don't beat yourself up. and btw, hannah never wears a helmet. so sue me.

Cirrus said...

Sometimes we all yell too much. Can you admit to your kids that sometimes you screw up and yell too much? That you're sorry? Then you're better than probably 99% of the people I know, mothers or not. Personally, my mom did send me to summer camps, have me in lessons (though I usually quit) and worked so much that I almost never saw her. My dad taught me to change a tire, watched me climb trees and the roof of the house (yeah, like THAT was less dangerous than not having a helmet), made stick-dolls out of pieces of branches, and let me "help" cook whenever my mom was away. Guess which parent I feel closer too and have always felt like loved me more...The one who spent time with me doing whatever he was doing, or whatever I was doing. Good luck, and as long as you keep loving, IMO, everything will work out.

P.S. If you DO need someone to talk to, then by all means find someone, professional or not. Sometimes just pouring out your feelings and getting a hug are better than anything a professional can do. And I've been in therapy/psychiatric care for about 10 years now.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Issa. I love how honest you've been, and nothing you've related here is anything that I could look "down" upon - because it's exactly the kind of thing that happens in my life.