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August 28, 2018

What it Really Means to be a Good Mother.

Lately, I have been looking back over the last four years and reflecting on my time as a mother so far.

I have been asking myself a lot of questions: What is motherhood? Why have we become so fiercely competitive regarding this specific topic? Why have we gotten so good at passing judgment based on our perception of what we think a mother should be? Is it possible that motherhood is different for everyone based on our own life lessons and experiences?

When I had children, I was not granted magical powers that suddenly made me the greatest version of myself. I still had the same fears and insecurities, and now they were magnified times a thousand.

I now also had these little beings whom I loved beyond words, and I realized that I was responsible for their well-being forever.

That feeling was overwhelming and all-consuming for me, and it filled me with a fear that I still can’t shake sometimes. This fear has made me look at the concept of motherhood and how we have come to define what a “good” mother is.

Let’s start by saying that neither of my children would fall into the category of “mellow” or “easy.” They came right out of the womb with loud voices—and even louder opinions.

My kids are multifaceted, to say the least. Their temperaments range anywhere between mellow, well-mannered sweethearts to total, savage barbarians. This does not mean that I haven’t been putting every ounce of my heart and soul into loving and guiding them—I certainly have. It simply means that they have big personalities. It also means that they came here to teach me just as much as I am here to teach them.

I needed strong-willed children to teach me how to be a little stronger myself.

I wasted so much time and energy judging myself and others. When I finally got tired of feeling mad, I decided to do some soul-searching to figure out where this frustration toward myself, my kids, and others was coming from.

I came to realize the answer was not in other people—it was within me. Deep down, I felt like I was doing a crappy job being a mother. I questioned every decision that I made, wondering if it was in their best interest. I felt angry at myself for not knowing how to conform to this ideology that I had of what my baby should be like.

As I mentioned before, motherhood does not suddenly make all of your fears go away, and it certainly does not instantaneously make you an enlightened being. I was still just me. And I was afraid and angry because my expectations were not matching up with my reality.

The truth is, I was mad at myself because I was afraid that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I was mad at myself that I wasn’t equipped to be a good mother. I was mad at myself because I felt insecure—and that made me angry at others. It made me understand that each time I judged someone else, I was really judging some unresolved fears I had within myself.

I decided to be a little gentler with myself, and one day I wrote down a list of what I thought a “good” mother was. I realized that I was—although not perfectly—already providing to my children everything on the list.

For four years, I have juggled motherhood, my insurance job, and my real estate career, all while being home with my two kids under the age of five. I have held them and rocked them all night long when they were sick, I have put ice packs on their boo-boos, and I have sung them to sleep. I have laughed with them, danced with them, and cried with them. I have pushed them on the swings for hours and hours, and I have cried myself to sleep out of pure exhaustion. I have managed tantrums in the grocery store, and I have sat with them on the couch while we talked about our feelings and emotions. I have poured my heart and my soul into being a mother. I have grown into a better person from some of the most challenging years of my life.

I am learning how to mother myself through mothering another. I am learning how to love myself through loving another.

It is my belief that we are all here for different reasons, based on the lessons we are supposed to be learning in this life. Some people are here learning how to nurture and be compassionate, some are here learning patience, and, in my case, my children have solidified the fact that my lessons involve learning boundaries and how to trust my own intuition—and also how to say “no.

We are here working toward the same goals of love and self-love, but we all have different experiences of how to get there.

I have come to understand that my definition of a mother is someone that guides their children to their own inner compass so that they can learn to make their own choices based on love—love for themselves and for others.

The purpose of parenthood is not to have a “perfect child.” There is no such thing. The purpose is to continue our own growth by guiding the growth in another being, all while navigating the highs and lows that life brings.

No one said that is supposed to be easy all the time.

This definition may be different for others—and that’s okay. We are all having our own unique experiences here. Perhaps next time we see a child screaming in a store, let’s withhold judgment. Let’s look in the mother’s eyes and see the frustration and fear. Or, in some cases, let’s look in her eyes to see the power and strength. Either way, she is not doing a better or worse job than anyone else simply because her child is having a tantrum. She’s learning a universal lesson of some kind in that moment that we may not understand. There is nothing more powerful than that.

Mothers—let’s put our swords down and stop comparing and competing. Let’s remember that while we are all in this together, we are all also meant to have different experiences based on what our lesson is at this juncture in our lives.

This job as a parent is never really over, because we never stop teaching or learning. There will never come a time when I look at my children and say, “There—I did it. I’m done here,” and hang up my motherhood hat. This life is infinite, just like my love for my children.

Moms—I want you to know that I won’t ever judge you. I honor you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now, in this moment. I see the journey you are on, and it is no more or less important than the journey I, or anyone else, is on. There is no right or wrong path to take.

Whatever path you choose is the one you’re supposed to be on. You signed up for a crash course in life and love. That takes guts. Thank you for your strength and courage, and thank you for being a mother—whatever that word may mean to you.

Christa Warnock

author: Christa Warnock

Image: Caroline Hernandez/Unsplash

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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