Reflections On Being a Good Mother

What does it take to be a good mom? I think my mom’s the best in the world, but I’m constantly reminding her of how her decisions and actions messed up my life. I can also see how my grandmother messed up my mother’s life, and how my great-grandmother messed up my grandmother. Now my older daughter tells me that she’s amazingly well adjusted in spite of me. Yes, I’m also messing up my daughter’s life.

It’s true, you know. I took a Facebook quiz yesterday-What Jazz Musician Are You- and found out that I’m Louis Armstrong. Well, I LOVE the trumpet! And as I pointed out to my mother, I could have learned to play the trumpet in junior high band, but she wouldn’t let me, because it would make my lips big. Women pay BIG MONEY now to make their lips big, and I could have had big lips and played the trumpet both, but my mother thought I should play the flute or the clarinet. Do you see why I’m messed up, folks?

My mother is an amazing woman. She is beautiful, intelligent and faithful. She did all the great mom things-read to us, said prayers and sang lullabies, baked cookies and attended concerts. When she divorced at 27, she couldn’t drive and had never held a job. She had four kids and only a high school education. She made the hard choice not to raise us on welfare, but to move in with her parents and let her mother take over mothering us while she learned to drive (badly) and got a job to support us.

She apologizes sometimes for having been a bad mother. I have to remind her that while she did mess up my life, she managed to raise four children and help raise three step-children who all turned out okay. Yes, we’re messed up. Everybody is. None of us, however, are living with her. None of us are on welfare, most of us are college graduates, and we’ve never called her to bail us out of jail. We all attend church regularly and are raising our children to be active members. We visit her often. Most of all, we love each other.

I often think I haven’t been a very good mom. I look back and see how I could have paid more attention, cooked more dinners, read more books, spoken more gently, spent more time. I envy other moms who seem to have everything together and who give their children so much more energy than I had for mine. I wish I’d done things differently. I wish I’d been kinder and wiser. And now I know that this is how my mom feels when she apologizes for being a bad mother. I can only hope that, when my daughters are mothers, it’ll turn out that I wasn’t so bad at all.

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