Sunday, January 16, 2011

the "perfect" mother

As the owlet gets older (4 whole months!) and starts watching my every move with intense fascination, it makes me think even more about what kind of mom I am and what kind of mom I'd ultimately like to be.

As moms, who are our role models? Who do we want to be like, and who do we not want to be like? I know for myself I have my own mother as a role model, who supported me in all my decisions, crazy though they probably seemed at the time. There are women I don't even know who I think ate pretty kick-ass moms, like her and her, and while she may be surprised, this mom too. Not actually "knowing" them, they probably also feel like there are things they could do better, or be better at. They probably also question themselves every day, and wonder if they're doing the right thing.

At dinner at Olive Garden last night, the owlet had decided that he'd had enough, that and the fact that he barely had a nap all day made for a really fun screaming baby. I felt like every other person in the restaurant was cursing me under his or breath for not taking better care of this screaming child, or just shutting him up. And I felt terrible. Thankfully we had finished dinner and were almost done desert (which I didn't get to finish. sadly.) I felt in that moment like I wasn't even a good enough mother, let alone a "perfect" one. I know that people will tell me that I'm being too hard on myself. That everyone feels like that sometimes. That all babies scream and cry and make their moms feel like they want to crawl under the table and hide. That no mom is the "perfect" mom, and that this is an ideal that if we strive for it, will just make us crazy.

I remember a class in grad school where they talked about the "good enough mother." Something about meeting your child's needs 70-80% of the time made you "good enough." But I've never liked the way that sounded. I don't want to be good enough. I want to be great. I don't want my son to think of me as an "OK" mom, I want him to think of me as a great mom. A mom who supported him, helped him fulfill his dreams. Encouraged him to be who he wanted and steered him in the direction to make good choices.

But I feel like a lot of the times I'm not even a good enough mother. I see all these other moms who I feel like are so much more with it. Who seem to know just what songs to sing, or what games to play with their little ones to keep them constantly smiling. Who had their babies sleeping through the night by 3 weeks. Who don't get frustrated to the point of wanting to pull their hair out when their child won't stop screaming and won't take a nap.

Maybe we all feel like this at some point? That the myth of the perfect mother is just too much to live up to, damn it, and we're all just doing the best we can.

Or, maybe that's just me.

1 comment:

  1. The "perfect Mom" is a myth. I think every mother worries that she is not good enough, doesn't know enough and doesn't do the right things. Unfortunately, that doesn't change as the "owlet" gets older. There's always the question of whether you did the right thing, said the right thing, made the right decision, set the right rules,have warped your child for life etc etc. My advise to you is don't try to be "perfect", no one is perfect. Just be the best that you can be, some days that will be way easier than others. Some days the best that you can be is just shy of pulling all of your hair out . In the end, children learn by example. I have to say that despite my errors, lack of knowledge and wrong decisions, my daughter grew to be a wonderful, caring, compassionate woman who struggles with the idea that she may not be the "perfect mom". Who could ask for more?