What does a thriving mother do?
#2 – She is willing to be Good Enough (and understand that mistakes are even important)
Okay, grab a pen and do something with me. Write down what it means to be a good mom to your child(ren).
This seems like a loaded question, no? When I find myself feeling guilty, I think/say to myself, “A good mom would [insert the opposite of what I am doing or am.]”
So what did you write down? Here is the hard part, say it out loud. I’m doing it with you, promise.
How did it make you feel when you read it back?
I’m going to share what I wrote down, because one of my biggest take aways from the Warrior Mom Conference was this: I can be vulnerable and true to myself, because at my worst everybody who mattered loved me anyway. This was one of the gifts of my postpartum depression. For 34 years, I was always angling to put my best foot forward. Trying to prove that I was perfect. Constantly performing and hustling to do more… be more. I wanted people to envy me. In the depths of my depression, my mind told me that I was nothing and worthless. Yet my people rallied around me, because they thought I was worth it. I couldn’t perform. I could barely get out of bed or dressed. I wasn’t able to care for myself let alone anybody else. On my darkest days, nobody gave a shit whether I would make them dinner, make them happy, or take care of something they didn’t want to. They wanted me back, because they missed my light, my laughter, my smile. That was enough and that is who I am.
I said I would share how I answered “What is a good mom?”
A good mom loves her children unconditionally. They know that they are worthy of a good mom’s time and attention. A good mom is an exemplary role model to her children. She demonstrates behavior that merits their emulation.
When I read it back, I feel a little bit of a lot of things: pride, shame, helplessness, regret, hope, and guilt. As much as my biggest supporters would like to think that I am all of that, I’m not. In moments, yes. Whole days, not even close. Never mind, weeks, months, or years.
Thriving mothers aren’t good mothers. Thriving mothers are good enough mothers. I am a good enough mother. Good enough mothers do their best. (Let’s not be delusional. I don’t always do my best, but most of the time I strive to do my best.) Good enough mothers don’t define their success with always and nevers. Good enough mothers know that mistakes will be made, accidents will happen, and tears will be shed.
What I didn’t know until July 11, 2015, is that I am striving to live a good enough life. Striving to make improvement, but from a place of worthiness and self-love. While I grieve the loss of that year with PPD and the many things I missed out on, I’m grateful to have come to this place of being good enough.
This is the second post in a series inspired by one of my favorite sessions of the Warrior Mom Conference (#WarriorMomCon). Kate Kripke presented on Thriving After PMAD (Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) where she asked all of us, “What does a thriving mother do?” Her list of ten blew me away and they aren’t just for moms with PMADs… they are for everybody!