Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pretty Good Mom

If I want to hear Patrick get really annoyed I only have to utter one sentence.

"I am the worst mother ever."

Even though I promised I wouldn't say that anymore, mother-guilt is a feeling too strong to contain and it still slips out from time to time.

I can annoy the hell out of my husband the exact same way. That's not to say that I want to annoy either one of them. I don't enjoy arguing with them, or anyone. But, "I am the worst mother ever," is what comes out of my mouth when I feel desperate.

Patrick always brings up some example of truly horrid maternal behavior to prove that I am not the worst mother ever. And this does not help me in the least. In my opinion, the women in his examples are not mothers at all. I am not exactly measuring myself to that standard.

God, I'm starting to feel like I've typed these exact words so many times before. This is all just set-up really, to get to the point I'm trying to get to without sounding egotistical or judgmental.

When it comes right down to it, I know that I am a damn good mother.

Why is it so hard for women to admit that?

When I say that I am the worst mother ever, what I really mean is that I am not meeting my own expectations. Regardless of what some other people might say, I do not think my expectations are too high. I think they are just right considering the healthy, intelligent children that I am lucky to have and the rather privileged situation in which we are lucky to be raising them.

First, when it comes to their health and safety I never take the easier way out.

And second, when it comes to every other aspect of their lives, values come first.

If I had to put a label on our parenting style it would be value-based.

Not too long ago, Patrick said something that stuck with me. While I was flagellating myself yet again, he said, "Oh please. Your children go to sleep every night knowing how loved they are."

That is very true. And when I was a kid, it was true for me too. How did my parents raise my brother and me?

First, when it came to our health and safety they never took the easier way out.

And second, when it came to every other aspect of our lives, values came first.

They would never have thought to put a label on their parenting style, but besides being strict (my father) and loving (my mother), it was value-based.

As hard as it is for me to get along with my parents now that we have all passed into different stages of our lives, they gave me that gift, the gift of knowing how to love and raise kids. And I am eternally thankful for that.

There is one other thing that makes me a really good mother. And it just may be the most important thing of all.

I was smart enough to choose a wonderful man as my kids' father. And I continue to put that man, our love for each other and our marriage first.

I have great kids. I am a good mom.

I am lucky.

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