Friday, February 13, 2009

On Being a "Good-Enough" Mother...

I read in a magazine the other day, "You don't have to be perfect to be be their perfect mother." I just about hugged the magazine to my chest and cried. It feels good to be validated once in a while, doesn't it?

So, in honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, here is my love letter to mothers everywhere:

You rock.

Don't feel bad if you used disposable diapers instead of washing poop out of cloth nappies 5 times a day. Odds are, your child is not going to get butt cancer.

Don't feel guilty about not saving every piece of unidentifiable artwork that your child brings home from school. Son #1 has brought home at least 23 versions of the same drawing of a rainbow and pot of mashed up fruit over the past 2 months. I gush over them, and promptly send them to the recycling bin. Trust me, he'll make more.

Don't feel like you're neglecting your kids if you have to work and they spend some time in daycare. God bless you for providing for their needs, and guess what? Being around kids your own age is good for you- it teaches you that while you may be the center of Mommy's universe, you're not the center of everybody's universe. This makes for a much more tolerable grown-up, which means that one day, someone will agree to marry your kid and he won't have to live in your basement.

Using the television to distract your kids on occasion is OK. They won't become miscreants or start swearing like sailors if you lay down some ground rules- like, no Law and Order SVU or Dog the Bounty Hunter, for example. God will forgive you if your kids ended up watching Dora for 20 minutes while you washed the puke out of your hair. Heck, you don't want them to think that it's normal to smell like puke, do you?

Don't despair if you don't make a home cooked meal 7 nights a week. I'm lucky if I can do 3 nights a week! Nourishing your children means putting reasonably healthy food in their bellies, and doing it lovingly. Your kids are not going to remember if dinner was made 100% from scratch, but they will remember sitting down to eat it with you, and that dinner time was family time. Go ahead, order a pizza or bring home some chicken nuggets and fries once in a blue moon. And remember, buying $5 bottles of organic ketchup does not mean that you love your kids any more than anyone else- it just means that you apparently have an extra $3 burning a hole in your pocket.

And finally, it's enough for you to put your kids first most of the time. Anyone who puts her kids in front of herself all of the time is doing herself a disservice. Your kids need to see that you appreciate yourself, so that they can learn to appreciate themselves too. They will not feel any less loved if you get a massage or get your nails done- it took me a long time to figure this out. Too long- I was starting to look pretty scraggly. My husband is thankful for the epiphany.

To all the "good-enough" mothers out there with living, breathing, smiling, beautifully imperfect children... congratulations! I'm proud to be among your ranks!

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