What Is a Good Mother?

For the most part, I think I am a good mother.  I feed, clothe, and clean my children.  I tell them I love them.  I give them independence and encouragement.  I read to them and play games with them and drive them places.  I try to utilize positive reinforcement.

Except when I don't. 

There are times when I lose it.  When I throw a (plastic) plate across the kitchen because it is 8:00 at night and I told you it was bed time and not snack time.  When the whining is so insufferable that all I can do is shout "STOP IT NOW!!!!!!" at the top of my lungs so that I stun you into silence.  When I have to ask you for the tenth time to put the god-damned markers away because I am fed-up with scrubbing ink off the walls and floors.  When I tell you, "You know what?  I don't actually like that drawing." because I'm feeling spiteful that that you called dinner "disgusting."

I've done all those things.  Some of them I've done more than once.  With the exception of about 6 hours a week, I spend every single moment with my children in this same house.  I'm sick of this place and I am sick of the monotony of parenting.  How can someone NOT lose it?  I feel like I'm pretty normal in the grand-scheme of middle-class mothering.  

My husband disagrees.

He thinks that I am impatient and critical.  He says I lose my temper too frequently and I do not communicate in a positive, caring way.  

I admit that mothering and running a household simultaneously do not come easily to me.  Where my husband and I disagree, however, is over my general approach.  I feel it is unfair to judge me when the vast majority of time he spends with our family falls between 6:30 and 8:00 in the evening.  

Once upon a time, I used to have a job.  I used to wear clothes that required dry cleaning.  I used to have a routine that revolved around my professional aspirations.  I used to be a parent and an employee.  This is my husband's life so frankly, I don't think he gets a right to complain about my occasional unhappiness with being a stay-at-home mother, laundry maven, chef, cleaning lady, receptionist, bill-payer, mail-sorter, seamstress,  chauffeur and gofer, social coordinator, and hostess.

I don't think he has spent a full 24 hours alone with all of our spawn.  I bet a few plates would fly then.

So, what say you fair Internet, does any of this ring true in your house?


  1. Sounds like you are a "human mother" and those are the best kind.

  2. Well, my parenting behavior is just like yours so I think you're doing great :).

  3. I agree with your first commenter. I am a working mom (except in the summer) and I still lose it sometimes. So does my husband. But we also do lots of the good stuff too. I even apologize to my kids when I lose it. Nobody's perfect - not even mommy and daddy. It seems to me like you are a superb momma. In fact, just the fact that you worry about it shows how good of a parent you really are.


  4. As I watched my husband play with the kids this evening (while I played on the computer in the recliner), I realized he was outshining me because I had just spent the day taking care of them. And it's like that every day.

    So, yes. Your post rang very true. And I think what you feel/do is perfectly normal.

  5. I feel like I could have written your post. I just put a bit of money aside every month for my kids' therapy when they're older. ;-) I'm thankful every morning is a new day and I get to try (and screw up!) again.

    Oh, and shouting at the top of my lungs no longer stuns my children into silence.

    You rock!

  6. True, Truer, TRUEST.

    I've done all those things too. I feel the same way about this place: I'm deathly sick of it.

    Your post rings true and loudly in my ears.

    And tell your husband that the #1 worst time to judge a mother is between dinner and bedtime.

  7. you are a fantastic mama. parenting is so very hard - i couldn't imagine staying home with my kids 24/7....like Holly Ann said, the fact that you are thinking/worrying about these things shows what a good mama you are!

  8. You and your reactions are TOTALLY normal! I cannot believe that your husband hasn't spent 24 hours with your spawn! He will be singing a different tune when he does! Go take a vacation with girlfriends and leave the girls at home with him. See if he's still cool as a cucumber when you return or not. ;)

  9. oh Mama, don't feel bad. I have the same thing here all the time. I take care of them, he plays with them. i get tired, impatient, and upset, and apologize to them and hug them everyday.
    You job is important, and no one can raise ur kids better then you. Trust ur self, and hug them one more time before bed :)

  10. RING! RING! That would be me calling you to say...so true...I am also "guilty as charged"!

    Sometimes I feel like being a SAHM is not the best job I have ever had but it helps to remind myself that it is the most important one I will ever have...not that it helps ALL the time, hence the "plate across the kitchen" moments!


  11. We had that kinda day. A day where I couldn't wait until bedtime. Husbands really don't get it. My hubby did when I was in the hospital for three days and he had to take care of the girls (with his grandmother's help). He understood how hard it was, but he's forgotten now. They've got short memories.

  12. thank you for being real and honest. It sure helps me feel more normal and less "witchy". Being a SAHM has got to be the hardest, most thankless job in the whole wide world....
    And, wow, my husband is exactly the same. I've offered to switch places with him....at least he's smart enough to know that's a bad idea, LOL.

  13. I am only home with one child and I had to set myself a goal of only losing it and yelling once a week. Things were getting ugly around here, especially in the time period that you mentioned! I also started volunteering one night a week from 6-9pm. Hubs has to think up and make and serve dinner, then handle after dinner clean up and play and bath/bed time. We both feel a little more grateful. Find yourself in all of this! It doesn't make you a bad parent to need a break!

  14. I'm stay-at-home dad while I work towards my Master's in Education and I totally identify with you. Often times I want a drink by noon, and once, after an hour of trying to put my 13 month old son down for a nap with no luck, I have gone into the garage and beaten the crap out of my trashcan with a broom pole.

    When people ask me when I am going to have a second I just picture my trash can... great article.


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