How do you know when your doing a good job as a mother? Do your children tell you? Will your husband let you know? Are there clues and/or other signals from passerbys, in-laws or the like that let you know when your meeting expectations?
During my 13 year career, no matter what position I held, from Manager to HR Generalist, I always knew when my performance was a needs improvement, meeting expectation or outstanding. Job responsibilities were clearly laid out, feedback was free-flowing and continuous and there were some very concrete measurements that let me know whether or not my work was valued, i.e. a paycheck every week and a merit increase once a year.
Not so obvious as a mother. Throughout the day, I'm constantly surveying my environment and the people in it, my actions, thoughts and emotions for clues on whether or not I am doing a good job.
A couple of weeks ago, while driving home from a family outing, I asked my husband whether or not he thought I was a good mom? My husband who is usually quick, well-thought out and all-knowing of the right thing to say...was stumped. After a long pause and a 15 second mental scan he said "well...you should ask your children." At first it sounded like a good idea but then I remembered, that my 8 month old couldn't talk and my 5 year old tends to be a bit temperamental, usually accessing whether things are good or bad based on if they go her way or not. So, I was back at square one, but also wondering what did my husband think? Why couldn't he answer the question? I guess, I expected him to say, "you are a great mother" but he didn't, so now I'm wondering why didn't he? Does he question my ability as a mother as much as I do? What does a good mother look like to him?
Am I a good mother if I:
- keep an immaculately clean home.
- make sure that my children eat the healthiest organic products on the market.
- make sure that I use all green products - only natural ingredients - hold the dyes and fragrances please!
- make only wholesome homecooked meals each day served at the exact same time in the exact same order.
- maintain a tight routine of daily activities.
- attend every PTA meeting, parent workshop, outside festival, school trip, museum, and zoo.
- bake cookies and teach my daughter to bake pies.
- not cringe at my daughter's meltdowns during play dates.
- organize every play date and play date activity for my 5 year old and participate in mommy and me classes or reading with mommy at our local library once a week.
-didn't love paper plates, plastic serveware and juice boxes (100% juice of course) because they eliminated the need to do dishes.
-sing the alphabet, read The Very Hunger Caterpillar 5 times in a row, make animal sounds and funny faces no matter who's looking and laughing.
-make up words that are not a part of the English language but rhyme because they make my kids laugh.
-didn't have as many secret meltdowns as my 5 year old and her best friend combined.
-didn't envy my husband because he goes to bed before me every night and can enjoy his meals at restaurants because I'm on bathroom and diaper duty; or can always eat his food while it's hot and never eats the scraps off of the kids plates because of a lack of time.
-could remain completely engaged while my 5 year old recited every last detail of who used what color crayon to color what, who didn't color in the line during class, and all of the kids who were moved from green to red on the class' behavior chart, while attending to my 8 month old who is rolling around during a diaper change or wailing at the top of his lungs to be picked up, answering my husband's question about what's for dinner, or where one of his (fill-in blank here) misplaced items is, at the same time, making the mental note to take the dog out who is long overdue for a walk and circling like she's about to go in the house.
Well...are those the things that a good mom does?
On our way from school yesterday, my daughter described a new game that she learned to play at school called Mother and Daughter and it was her turn to be the mother. She describe in great detail what she did and why she was a nice mother to her daughter. It was really funny and cute but sadly, I also listened intently for any of my mommy behaviors that might help in my self-evaluation. She talked about going out to fun places, doing hair, dressing in pretty dresses and sharing. Was that my daughter's ideal of a good mommy? Definitely things that I do but isn't there more? Is that what she's extracted from the last 5 years together? What about the love, the discipline, the routine, the band-aids, late night bathroom trips, the morals and values we try to impart, or the care while sick, or the countless books we read, or the homework help?????
I read that children often act out what they see and experience, so I'll ask the question again...how do you know when your a good mom? Is it something you feel and know like love, or are there more tangible measures?