Monday, December 15, 2008

Guilt Can Be Good

I just read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, JCK, over at Motherscribe. You know a post is good when you keep thinking about it, long after reading it. This was one of those posts. In it, she talks about a conversation she had with a mother, who was beating herself up about losing her patience, and yelling at her daughter on her birthday. JCK felt that she was being way too hard on herself. In the post, she reminds all of us that we are human, and therefore not perfect. She tells us not to strive for the unattainable goal of perfection.

At first, after I read the post, I found myself nodding, and getting ready to leave a comment. Something along the lines of, "So true! You are so right!" But, the more I thought about it, the more I had to say. I needed to say something a little longer than a comment.

I know I am not perfect. No, I am not a perfect mom, but you know what? I'm a damn good one. That's right, I said it. There are many things I'm terrible at, and many things I'm not so good at, but I know I am good at that. That is something that bothers me about most women I know - the constant need to put ourselves down. We shouldn't boast, or come across as too high and mighty, but what about giving credit where credit is due? Being a mother is a hard job - the hardest job I know of. But, that's just it.

I think that it is the moms who get the enormity of this job, that feel the guilt. We feel the guilt because we realize that we are in charge of a human life. We must nurture their bodies, their minds, and their spirits. We must keep them safe in a scary world. We are their foundation. What an amazing responsibility! It is the most important thing we will ever do, and we want to do it to the best of our ability.

I admit, there are times that I chase that unattainable goal of perfection. I want my house to be perfect when those other mothers bring their children over for a play date. I want my child to be looking adorable when we go to that birthday party. I want to look cool, calm, and collected, when many times I am feeling anything but. I think that is where we, as mothers, go wrong. We are so busy trying to look perfect to those around us, that we are exhausting ourselves. Not to mention that it's ridiculous. We are all in this club of motherhood together. We should be able to say, "You know what? I'm tired. I'm stressed. My house is a wreck, my laundry is piling up, and I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs". That's real.

As JCK said, we are only human, and we will make mistakes - many of them. But the mothers who lose their patience and don't feel a bit guilty after yelling at their kids (when they didn't deserve it), are probably not the good ones. Guilt is not always a bad thing. Striving for perfection is fruitless, but striving to be the best mom we can be is admirable. Our children will thank us for it.


JCK said...

Lovely post, Jen! :) Striving to be a good mom is important. It's where we draw our own lines that can get fuzzy sometimes. Hopefully, that is where friends come in to help you see the picture differently.

Thanks for linking back to my post, and I'm glad it sparked more thought.

Kellan said...

Yes - striving to be the best moms we can be is all we can do and I think you are doing a great job. I too, think I do the best job I can and I am not perfect, but that is okay. Great post, Jen!

Have a good week - Kellan

shrink on the couch said...

You make many good points. Especially about appreciating the enormity of our task. I've got a momma-guilt reaction post in the tubes as well, .. will link you as well.

Burgh Baby said...

I'm right there with you--I don't get why it's acceptable to call yourself a bad mom, but you can't call yourself a good mom. What's up with that? We all have days that we earn one crown or the other, but just so long as we work to wearing the Good One most often, we'll all be OK.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Really thoughtful response to JCK's great post. I think it is so important to recognize that attaining perfection would be counterproductive--our kids need us to be just "good enough" in order to grow and flourish.