The “Good Mother” Criteria

driving

Driving my (environmentally friendly, non-car-owning) son back to city where he lives after a visit home, he suddenly and without preamble said. “I think you were a good mother.”

Oh yeah! The words every mother longs to hear. Tears well up.

“Why do you think I was a good mother?”

“You walked us to school. You fixed our meals. And you read to us.”

Really. Really? If I had only known it was that simple! I could have saved myself a lot of angst.

My children are in the young adult phase, twenty-somethings. (The most challenging phase for parenting so far, to my mind – but nevermind, I don’t want to scare you.)  I have a missionary, a math teacher and a bartender. I like them a lot. And I often agonize over how I did raising them – would that be different if I had done something differently? Does this come from the junior high transition back to the US? Is that a reflection of my worst fault?

But here is what I know. I walked with the Lord through their childhood. I did what I knew to do at the time. I trust in God’s mercy, and in his unfailing love.

And, by the way, I know Peter Rabbit by heart.


What sort of “good mother” criteria have you created for yourself? Have you ever found yourself adding more things to that criteria than perhaps God would? Which of those things do you think matter most?”

(Post by: Carolyn)

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9 Responses to “The “Good Mother” Criteria”


  1. 1 @ngie October 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Carolyn, this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear this morning. A journal entry much akin to blasting myself with a fire-hose of put-downs kept me awake in the wee hours last night. Hearing hope from you has helped to unhook that hose. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.

  2. 2 Vicky October 17, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Carolyn, it is so fun to get to read your words here! I struggle often wondering how I will manage to love and raise my babies well and wondering who they will grow up to be someday. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, it is very encouraging.

  3. 3 Ashley October 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I also appreciate your encouragement, Carolyn! It is so easy in my efforts to be good mom to get those good desires tangled up with doing works and end up being sort of a pharisee mom. Not sure if that metaphor works or not, but I can fall into the trap of whether or not I look like a good mom on paper or not. Do I do the right crafts? Do I make the right foods? Do I give my kids the best opportunities? I read all of these things about what all of the “good mothers” are doing and can be tempted to see myself as falling short. God probably cares a whole lot more about whether or not I was loving, patient, and kind with my children any given day (or walking with God and trusting in His mercy like you said), over whether or not we made our own musical instruments from household items or went to the petting zoo. I hate it when I’m the cranky mom who is not having any fun at all doing what I “should do” to be a “good mom.” Thanks for great reminder!

  4. 4 Shilo October 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    What a LOVELY, moving post. I am good at all the cleaning, cooking but one thing I feel that is often missing from my life is the sheer enjoyment of my children. Oh, we certainly have our daily reading time and other special moments but I have been thinking about how “teach the younger women to LOVE their children” really means more ENJOY them than cook for them and do their laundry. Just thoughts…ramblings…prayers.
    Blessings and THANK YOU.
    Shilo

  5. 5 Kelly October 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    As I mother two little guys (1 and 3 years old), it is so tempting to dwell on all the things I can’t do right now. But if I just pause long enough to play with them, read to them, pray for/with them and give them the boundaries they need right now- it really is enough. Thanks for giving us hope. It is a huge blessing to have someone a few steps ahead of us on this mothering journey join our little community!

  6. 6 Kara October 17, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Just what I needed to hear Carolyn–I’m in the midst of really seeking how to make the best of my time, especially in this toddler-preschool-first grade year. Tonight I listed out all the desires and demands I feel pulling me in ten directions. And your post helps me to realize that it doesn’t matter if we get homemade gifts sent back to the States in time for Christmas, or the Thanksgiving tree put up on the wall, or find the ‘tumbing’ class that I just know is around the corner somewhere. Thanks for helping point the way.

    And, it’s fun to run into you on Ashley’s blog!

  7. 7 Addie October 18, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement Carolyn! It’s easy for me to fantasize that parenting older children is easier since the physical demands of holding them and changing diapers isn’t there, so I appreciate your honesty and wisdom that that isn’t the case. I look forward to your insights and thank you for this reminder that simply being there for our kids and loving Jesus is enough, not all the fancy things we may think make us a “good mom.” I too fall into that trap!

  8. 8 Sarah October 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you for such a good and TIMELY (just what I needed to hear!!!) post. 🙂 It’s been several months since I have been able to visit this site because we don’t have internet where we’re staying right now, but I’m so glad I was able to stop by today. (I also enjoyed reading everyone else’s comments! So thankful I’m not the only mom who struggles with these feelings!)


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