I am a good mom. I am a flawed mom. I am a mom.

One evening a few months ago, my 10-year-old came running into the house crying that his little brother broke his thumb. Assuming he was being overly dramatic—as he so often does when it comes to injuries inflicted by his brother—I briefly examined him, wrapped his hand in ice and told him to go get ready for bed. A few minutes later, I gave him some Motrin, kissed his booboo and tucked him into bed. Yeah it was a little swollen, but all they were doing was shooting a few hoops in the driveway. How much damage could have been done? He’s fine, I thought. 

I thought wrong.

It seems that while I was resting comfortably in my own bed, he was in so much pain that he slept with his hand under a pile of stuffed animals so that they could “keep it protected.”

The next morning, he woke me up bright and early to ask if his hand was supposed to be “puffy and purple.”

Um… definitely not! 

One doctor visit and an X-Ray later, it was confirmed that my boy had, in fact, broken his thumb. And I, his obviously irresponsible mother, had brushed off his injury as though it was nothing.

How could I have overlooked something so big? How could I not have known the extent to which he was suffering? How could I have neglected to notice the severity of his injury?

Parental fail.

Before I had kids, I would look at other moms in judgment. I had a set idea in my head of what constituted a good mom—and much of what I’d observed was not it. Oh yeah I judged them—and with good right: they were doing it wrong. I knew that when I became a mom, I would not be like them. I would not be that mom.

Then I became a mom. I became that mom.

I became that mom who’s imperfect in so many ways she’s lost count. I became that mom who, despite her best efforts, continues to make mistakes in the raising of her children. I became that mom who so desperately wants to do right by her kids, but finds herself so often lost and confused as to what to do next.

I became that mom who is flawed.

But that’s okay, because I also became that mom who would move heaven and earth to protect her children. I became that mom who makes it her life’s mission to teach her kids right from wrong. I became that mom who floods her babies with affection and love.

I became that mom who loves her children with every fiber of her being.

Aren’t we all that mom? Don’t we all try our hardest to do right by our kids? And in doing so, don’t we all have our share of successes and failures? Don’t we all experience a mixed bag of feelings in our role as mother?

Don’t we all love our children so much it almost hurts?

Over the past ten years, I have constantly questioned my parenting skills. Some days I think, Yeah, I’ve got this parenting gig down. Other days I think, What makes me think I’m qualified to care for these children? I mean, geeze, I let a 10-year-old boy suffer in his bed with a broken thumb. What kind of mom does that?

A mom who tries her hardest, but sometimes fails.

There is no education that prepares you for the role of mom. Motherhood comes with an massive learning curve—a funky misshaped learning curve with a myriad of unexpected of twists, turns and loop de loops. It is far from an exact science. In the absence of a prescription or formula to guide our efforts, we have no choice but to trust our own internal guidance system in how we raise our children—and accept the mistakes we make along the way.

What kind of mom am I? I am a good mom. I am a flawed mom. I am a mom.

Comments

  1. If you don’t make mistakes, you can’t learn. I love this post because it is so honest, relatable and real.

    • Thanks, Kim. It took me a while to get over that little incident. But I finally let myself off the hook with the realization that we are all human and we all make mistakes.

  2. I love this! You are so right, we are all that mom in good and bad. Patenting is hard and we all have good and bad days

  3. Okay, this will make you feel better – last summer my then 7 year old pushed his then 4 year old brother down the stairs. 4 year old complained all night that his arm hurt – same deal as yours. The next day he wasn’t using it at all. Sure enough, it was broken. I felt like the doctor was going to call CPS on me. We all have our moments. But it’s the love and care we give our kids in between those moments that counts. xo

    • So glad I’m not alone. That said, sorry he broke his arm. Our kids cry wolf so often it’s hard to know when they’re seriously injured. In the case of my son, it was a Sunday night, the time when he usually starts complaining about some sort of ailment in hopes he’ll miss school the next day. So I’ve gotten used to ignoring his Sunday night complaints. Perhaps not the best approach.

      And you’re right, Kathy. It’s what we give our kids in between those moments that counts. I love how you put it!

  4. I have become that Mum too. It is so hard to always know when you are doing the right thing or not. After weeks of whinging I dropped my then 16yr pld daughter to the hospital walk in clinic cause I was sick of her moaning about her sore tummy. (Had been to doctors several times – nothing). She ended up in Emergency with appendicitis. Where was I – off having lunch with friends. At least they told me I won the Bad Parenting award that year. Last week on Fri my youngest had a 2hr meltdown at school and we couldn’t calm her. I felt so bad I snt in a beautifly decorated Thank You cake for the staff meeting today. Feel I need to kep them on side. Lol. As parents we do what we can and clean up the mess after. It just goes round and round.

  5. I once missed ear infection symptoms in my 3rd child. He is not a complainer and had not told me about his pain. I had noticed a certain listlessness and didn’t stop long enough to investigate. In the night his ear drum burst from the pressure of the nasty infected fluids pushing against it. in the morning I discovered some blood and dried mucus on his pillowcase. He was perkier than he had been in two days, relieved I suppose at having that stuff out of his body. I was despondent and ashamed.
    It took me a long time to forgive myself for my insensitivity even though he was fine and it did no long term damage. I shuddered even now typing that. But the thing is that there is even teaching value in our mess ups. They learn to love an imperfect person. And they learn that if we mess up, it must not be so tragic for them to mess up sometimes too.
    I know you know on a cognitive level that its all good. But here is a huge bear hug to you, because as a mama it is hard for us to forgive ourselves even when we know we should.

    • Thanks for the bear hug, May. As for the ruptured eardrum, been there. My oldest said his ear was hurting just before he was going on for his black belt test in tae kwon do. He wasn’t it that much pain, so he went ahead and did the test (which was like 3 hours long). As we were leaving that night, he said, “mom, half way through the test, I felt fluid come out of my ear and I suddenly felt better.” Sure enough, ruptured. But by the time we took him into the dr. the next day, it was already almost completely healed.

      Parenting is so damn hard!

  6. I didn’t believe my daughter once when she said she was stung by a bee. It swelled up 20 minutes later and was painful. That’s when I believed her! It’s okay, we’ve all been in your shoes. But thank you for reminding us honestly to cut ourselves some slack!

  7. Such a great post! I can so relate what you wrote about. I have to say I question my decisions every day too! Am I doing right by my children, am I doing enough to make them an adult who is good, honest & has integrity. It is a very tough job! Honestly, it is the toughest job ever, and without anyone there saying yes you are doing the right thing. I am sure I would have done the same thing with the thumb incident too. We are human. 🙂

    • We are human and that’s what I tell myself every time I question myself. It’s easy to doubt our mothering abilities, but none of us is perfect. At least, not by the standards we set for ourselves as mom.

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