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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why I'm a Good Mom (and you are, too)

I'm pretty sure I've never confessed this to y'all, but once - when the Tongginator was a baby - I accidentally dropped her on her head. A klutz during the best of times, I became distracted by a ringing telephone and propped her next to me on my chair while I reached for the phone. The Tongginator, who could barely roll over, much less crawl, suddenly morphed into The Wiggle Worm, causing her to slip through my one arm and drop onto the family room floor. Literally! On! Her! Head! The fall was so horrific, I stood over her, screaming "move your feet" before her teeny little toes moved a smidge and I could gather her into my arms.

Did I happen to mention that we'd only been home about three weeks when that happened?


And so began my infamous journey through motherhood. It didn't help that magazines, talk shows, piles of parenting books and other oh-so-helpful moms often made me feel about two inches high. Nor did it help that both the Tongginator and I stumbled through the attachment process for well over a year. But - around the time that my close friend Rosie died - I came to realize something rather important about myself. Despite my many mothering mishaps and colossal parenting mistakes, I? Am still a good mom. And here's why...

1. I love my girl. Period. Love covers over a multitude of sins because love just kind of wraps you in a warm blanket, even when the wind is gusting all around you. When I make mistakes - and believe me, y'all, many of them are doozies - my girl still knows that I adore her. And it's not just because I tell her that I love her, although I do tell her - often. It's because I spend time with her. And because I take the time to teach her and correct her. Because my face lights up when I see her walking off the bus after a long day at school. And because I laugh at her and with her and at myself when I'm with her.

2. I do my level best to accept my Tongginator just as she is, for who she is. I, the former tomboy turned shlumpadinka momma, try my very best to navigate the world of girly girl accessories and interests. I always swore I would never be THAT momma, but - alas! - I now find myself waltzing next to a pint-sized terror wearing outrageous costumes and sporting rainbow-colored fingernails. I also accept my Tongginator's strengths and weaknesses, as best I can, because I know that she is who God made her to be. It's a challenge, for sure, but I guess I realize that it's even more challenging to try to turn a morning person into a night owl... a social butterfly into an introvert... a girl who loves jewelry into a girl who plays in the mud... and a girl who excels at beating away on the drums into a girl who wants to learn to play the flute. Plus, as an adoptive momma, I go that extra step to acknowledge and honor my daughter's life before she became a part of our family. Because the Tongginator is who she is... a child not born of me, whose life story is bigger than me. I can't change that fact... nor can I change her... I can only guide her as best I can.

3. I listen to her. I mean, sure there are times when I don't, especially in the morning when I am a Complete And Total Zombie because I have yet to ingest ten gallons of strong coffee, but I do listen to her. She's a PERSON, despite her mere 43 inch height. I mean, do I actually WANT to hear five. endless. hours of horrific knock knock jokes? Umm... no. And so sometimes I tell her to go away. Or move on. Or whatever. But even that teaches her something.... something very important that she needs to know.

People don't actually like knock knock jokes.

Just kidding. Actually, not really. But what it truly teaches her is that she needs to find common ground with others when she's talking with them. That it's not All. About. Her. And that communicating is about listening and reading non-verbal cues as much as it is about jabbering on and on. And on.

4. I'm also a good momma because the Tongginator is not the center of my world. (Shocking! I know!) I don't want my girl to grow up thinking the world is ready to applaud at her feet. I don't want her thinking that she is more important to me than God or my marriage. I don't want to set a pattern where she relies solely on ONE person to meet her needs, fulfill her and make her happy. Because if I do that? One day that person will no longer be me... and will probably transition to some lame guy who doesn't know how to treat himself well, much less how to treat my daughter.

So yeah, y'all, I'm a Mean Mom. And I often make horrific parenting mistakes. But I'm also a good mom, it just took me a few years to figure that out. I hope y'all realize that you, too, are (or soon will be) good moms, too. All too often we focus on the many, many, MANY mistakes we make: some of us yell too much; some withdraw; some take the easy way out and don't discipline even when we know we should; some are way too strict. Yep, that's all true, but that doesn't make us bad moms. It just makes us... moms.

So... what I'd like to know today is... how are YOU a good mom? What are you doing RIGHT?


Andrea said...

I think every Mom wonders if she is a good Mom. I have always encouraged my boys to play independently. They have had chores since they were 5 years old - trust me, not many of their friends do. At least they will be somewhat prepared to be on their own.

Anonymous said...

i hope to be half as good a mom as you some day.

i'm serious.

Aus said...

TM - is there any doubt about why we love you guys? If so - read your post over!

I'd write volumes here if I had the time - suffice to say that we're good parents (there are those who have called me a 'mother...' but lets not go there) because of much of the same things you site....we're good parents because we teach (and demonstrate to our kids) that 1) they are of value, 2) we are of value too, and 3) combined we are worth more than any one of us alone. We teach family.....and we love our kids regardless of how they got there.

I'm gonna stop now before I really get carried away - just remember to continue in a like and similar fashion!

hugs -

aus and co.

happygeek said...

1. I pray for my kids. With my kids. Aoubt my kids. For wisdom while dealing with my kids. NO matter what, I talk to God about my family a LOT.

2. I treat my sons like individuals. There is no one formula that works for all kids and so we respond and reward and punish all according to their unique personalities.

3. I discipline them.

4. I have fun with them. We goof off on a daily basis. I need them to know I enjoy them, even in the midst of all the discipline and training.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I especially appreciate the bit about teaching your daughter not to rely on you (or others) for her Every Happiness. That's something we've been really, really striving for with our girls, especially since we are on the brunt on that mindset with certain in-laws (who literally told us "I need to see the girls on a regular basis in order to be happy").

My grandmother gave me some of the best parenting advice ever when Joy was born. She said the most important thing to to love your kids and enjoy them, and the rest will fall into place one way or another. Obviously, we have to focus somewhat on discipline and the like, but as an overall theme to our parenting life, it's worked pretty well thus far!

Elizabeth said...

I make plenty of mistakes, but I'm a good mom because when I'm wrong, I admit it, and apologize.

I also laugh a lot at bodily functions which could go either way, but with 2 little boys, it just seems appropriate.

bbmomof2boys said...

Sometimes I wonder if I am a good mom. I have a son who at 17 got his girlfriend pregnant and another son who has a smart mouth. I have a daughter who is sweet and precious but she's 3 1/2 so still so young.

Then I think about my beautiful granddaughter and how lucky we are to have her in our lives. I think about how that son who had a child at a very young age took his responsibility seriously, married that girl, works, takes care of our granddaughter all the while going to college full time and still getting on the Dean's list. I also think about that second son with his attitude and how he treats his baby sister with such care and gentleness it makes me smile and cry at the same time. And then there's Little T, who has only known a momma now for not quite 2 years. I watch her as she prays with her sweet babble at every meal and at bedtime. I watch her as she tucks in her baby and kisses her on the forehead just like I do her each night.

Yeah, I must be doing something right.


Cavatica said...

Hmmm, I may do this one on my blog, as I need to think about this. Oh, and I will be linking to the Kay Johnson-O Solo Mama interview too. Fantastic. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well said my friend. I taught LL, that although I love her more than I can say... I still love God more (and Daddy). She gets it and tell me that she loves God more than me which is just as it should be. I love that she will grow up knowing her importance but not having an overinflated ego and demanding to be center stage. Although frankly, I think the stage was made for her. And it's time both our girls learn that people really do not like knock knock jokes. Especially ones that don't make sense but I am trained at laughing at even when I'm not really paying attention. ;-)

Wuxi Mommy said...

Thank you so much for writing this post! It was such an encouragement to me right now as I'm still trying to find my way being Maia's mommy:) Being the perfectionist that I am, it's hard for me not to focus on my mishaps, rather than on my strengths as a Mommy. The one thing that I feel God has given me is an abundance of affections, hugs and kisses. My husband always says our kiddos are the most cuddled kiddos in the world:)

Patricia/NYC said...

This post is just FABULOUS!!! You sure ARE a good mom!!

Well...I too have had my doubts about myself...but every now & then I do get some affirmation ;)

Just yesterday, Miss K got her 2nd dose of the H1N1 shot...today, when I dropped her off, her teacher, Carol, told me that Miss K is a very loving & thoughtful child, that after she got the shot, she hugged her & said, "Thank you so much, Carol, for making me feel better & holding my hand"...her teacher told me that amidst all the chaos & kids crying, she was so impressed that Miss K thought to thank her & that this behavior is certainly not innate (her words, not mine).

So...though I may beat myself up from time to time after I make some parenting mistakes, I guess I'm doing something right afterall! ;)

LucisMomma said...

I am loving reading all these answers from the other moms. Carla, wow, what a precious gift your son is giving his daughter, his wife, and his parents by honoring that commitment to what began as an unplanned pregnancy. And Patricia, I love your Miss K!

TM--I have dropped ALL THREE of mine (two bio boys and Luci from China)--they were all under one year of age when the falls happened, and involve me in the middle of the night cuddling them and falling fast asleep in the recliner and then PLOP and WAIL and WHERE's THE BABY?!

And all three seem to have all their faculties...although sometimes, when the boys have difficulty in their math they will mention..."hmm, Mom, wonder how smart I'd be if YOU HADN'T DROPPED ME?!"

And again--consider it a blessing that your daughter actually finishes the knock knock jokes!!

Kris said...

this needs to be posted on NHBO. what a phenomenal post. i LOVED number 3. and number 4. i loved it all, but 3 had me laughing my ass off and 4 is just the truth right there.

and you can't beat number 1.

or the word shlumpadinka. i've no idea what it means but i am in love with this word.

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

I don't know. I'm one of those moms who's constantly doubting whether I'm doing anything right. Kyler is very independent, but he came that way. He's a kind child, who looks to help others, but did he get that from us. . . Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. We all need it at times!!

Anonymous said...

LOL. I didn't drop Ilsa on her head, but I was so sleep deprived with infant twins and a 20 months old that once it made sense to set her down on the chair while I picked up Abel, as she wasn't anywhere near crawling yet, and the chair slanted inwards, yet somehow 2 seconds later she was on the floor bawling. I had a lot of guilt about that for years, but she seems fine and gets good grades and has an enormous vocabulary.
Sometimes I think I'm a good mom and sometimes I think I'm a terrible one.
But my kids know I love them! So at least that's one thing I do right.

Wanda said...

Fabulous post (and comments from others too).

I've been trying to get better with the guilt thing. I constantly make mistakes but lately I've been trying to let them go and ask God to help me not dwell on the bad stuff. It happens, learn the lesson and let it go.

And, sometimes that works. Other times I just....yank on my hair! Not really. Guilt is a good tool as long as you stay in control of it.

I'm printing this post. It's a keeper!

prechrswife said...

Thanks so much for this post. We had a rough morning this morning, and sometimes I just need to know that someone else has been there. :-) I love that you included #4. That is so very true.

Girly Girl Mommy said...

Fabulous post and comments!!
You made me laugh, get teary, and really get introspective. Why as moms do we tend to beat ourselves up about the job we are doing- the most amazing, challeging, and completely worthwhile job there is- mothering? I get a lot wrong, but my girls know that no matter what, their daddy and I will always love them. I strive to completely fill their heads and hearts with the knowledge that they matter and are loved by us and by God. There isn't anything we can't face or accomplish as a family with that foundation.

Red Sand said...

Right now, my key to being a good mom is to keep trying and trying and trying and starting over. I'll raise the bar gradually, but one has to start somewhere...

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Happy New Year TM and Family!! Just getting around to catching up with my favorite bloggy friends:) Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

GREAT POST......and you are a GREAT MOM!

I vividly remember when I was pregnant with Nick..... I was so worried about how I was going to handle being a Mom and what if I did something wrong.

Once Nick arrived, I just went with the flow. I made plenty of mistakes and beat myself up for it, but he turned out to be a great kid.

We all make mistakes along the way and NONE of us are perfect, but we learn along the way.

That being said, I think that I am a good Mom because I learned from one of the best......MY MOM:)



luna said...

this is just a lovely post.

and after almost letting our baby girl slide off me this morning and on to the floor head first in a moment of sheer exhaustion, this is just what I needed to read today...

I like to think I'm a good mama because my love has no bounds, when I am with her I try to be really WITH her, I try to be patient, and because I want her to become the person she is going to be, NOT the person I think she should be.

Shanna said...

Thanks so much for this post. If you only knew how badly I needed it!!

Paula O. said...

Love this post! We moms need to stick together and remind ourselves of the numerous things that we're doing right.

I know I became a better mom when I didn't feel guilty for taking time out for myself or doing what I wanted to do, even if it didn't make everyone else around me happy. I hope my ability to prioritize my own mental, spiritual and physical health is teaching my kids that it's absolutely necessary to keep investing in oneself.

Briana's Mom said...

I definitely learn as I go along. I'm still looking for Briana's manual. I can't seem to find it anywhere. ;)

You are definitely a great mama. I can tell with every blog post you write. And I actually think I'm a pretty good mama too - despite the mistakes I make. Bri seems happy, healthy and full of spunk. I must be doing a little something right!

Mama King said...

I just love reading your blog! You are such a good mama because you take it ALL in stride. I definitely believe being a good mama requires a good sense of humor...oh yeah and a whole lot of love and respect!

I was thinking of you over Christmas. I had a MIL experience for the record books. Let me just say I will never be the same and I had to burn an old pair of pregnancy underwear when it was all said and done. I get chills just thinking about it.

Suzie said...

I love this post! You are an amazing and fun mom and it sounds like every day at your house is a hoot!

I can't wait for the day that I become a mom. Like Lisa (half gaelic, half garlic) I also had an amazing mom and hope that I will make her proud.

thegypsymama said...

You are one of the most intentional moms I know, TM. And that's about the highest praise I know.

3 Peanuts said...

What a fabulous post...I do all the things you mentioned here....I think the most important things I do are being there for them. ANd by that I mean I am here when they come home from school and want to tell me all the little things about their day. I am at their school for all the little things. i see so many parents who have no time for their kids. I listen and I accept them for who they are and love them that way unconditionally, But I yell. And I need to work on that.

You are a good Mom TM...that is one of the reasons I love coming here.

Annie said...

Great post. I have days when I feel like a great Mom and days that I don't. I think that on good days, I am a good mom because I truly enjoy my kids and love to laugh with them. I also give them chores and don't let them get away with much. I try to be as consistent as possible and am always interested in what they have to say. I can also, though, yell too much and have days that I end up apologizing for but I guess that's ok. Most of all, I LOVE my kids!!

Wendy said...

Love the post! You are an inspiration to many just by sharing your heart like this! I too needed to hear this message today!

Sharie said...

You waited 3 weeks to drop her? WOW...I take you on the clumsiness. Day 2 for me - yep, day 2.
First day I gave her a bath in the sink at the White Swan...she didn't really fit and she went crazy.
Day 2, well I decided to take her in the shower with me, but I just couldn't put her in the tub in a hotel...do you see where this is going?

Crazy, wet, skiny, soaped up baby in the shower in mom's arms...she slipped. I think I screamed, not sure it was out loud. Thank GOD I caught her just before she hit the tub. Yeah, the next day I put her in the tub!!

I am a good mom, not the best, not the worst and I learn more everyday. I'm not afraid to admit a mistake - to myself, or to Amelia. I let her watch Mario Party the video...after seeing it I said she couldn't watch it again. I got, but you let me see it before. To which I replied, "I made a mistake, I didn't like the way they treated each other in that movie and I don't want you to watch it again." To which I got, "I hate you mom!" I said, "That's fine, but it's my job to make sure you are a nice person and that movie isn't nice." Oh boy the teen years are going to be a challenge! (BTW the I hate you gets a time out- we don't use hate toward people) Now to eliminate dumb and dummie from the vocabulary!

Kiy said...

Thank you for this. Really. This is something I struggle with. Am I doing enough? Spoiling too much? Not enough discipline? Too much? And yeah, the parenting mistakes - I know I've made some doozeys.

But, as you said, I love this little gal. Love her more than I thought possible to love another human being (and even love her like that when she's not acting like a human being!). So, mistakes and blunders aside, I guess I am a good mom. I love my girl. So much.

Again, thank you for this post. It got me thinking. But then, you usually do that for me!


Marla said...

I love this post TM. I definitely have days where my "good mom" vibe is better than others. I think what I've found most helpful in my 10 year, 4 kid journey is that there's no such thing as a "perfect" mom. Some days I yell, some days I spoil them rotten, and some days I consider it a small miracle that they made it to bed alive and with all their limbs. I'm far from perfect, but I know I'm a good mom, and I've learned to forgive myself for the mistakes and move on.

Patty O. said...

I really, really, really needed to read this today. Thank you!

I am a good mom because I get my son the services he needs, but also because I laugh with my kids. I let them help me even when it would be so much easier to do chores by myself. I talk to them and try to give them choices and some control over what we do. I try to honor their limits and not force them to do what I want to do for hours on end (like shopping in a book store, etc) when I know they can't handle it.

I let them jump on me and I tickle Charlotte (Danny doesn't like tickling) and I wrestle with Danny. And I love them SO much.

Carla said...

I'm a good mom because despite how frustrated I get with my kids being..well...kids, I still do their laundry and fix them food to eat. ;)

I even clean their rooms for them.

but what's really good is when a psych type person tells you that you DID THE RIGHT THING in a choice.

Michelle said...

Great post!! Being a mom is the toughest job there is and I think many of us often feel like we fall short because WHERE ON EARTH IS THE HANDBOOK!?!? I am short on patience, but my girls know that I love them with all my heart and that I would go to the ends of the earth and back for them. Thanks for this!!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I love this post!

I haven't decided if I'm a good mom.

My kids think I am. Maybe that's enough?

Aunt LoLo said...

I'm a Mean Mom. I'm strict. I set rules and boundaries...and then my kids have the live with the consequences of their actions.

However, POST "consequence"? There are snuggles, kisses, hugs and I-Love-Yous. There's a verse in our Doctrine & Covenants (an LDS book of Scripture) that teaches that you should reprove in an appropriate manner...and then give an OUTPOURING of love, so the person doesn't think you're their enemy. That verse has served me WELL the past three years as a mommma.