You've been on the internet again, reading.
The last time, you read something called “Confessions of Bad Parents.”
Like one of the bad parents, you once forgot to go to an event at your child’s school.
You froze with panic and guilt when you realized it.
But it was worse when the good moms offered their sympathy: “It was fine, we just had her sit with us.”
This time, you’re reading about “Secrets of Successful Parents.”
What they know.
What they do and don’t do.
What everyone should do if they want confident, responsible kids.
What no one should do if they want confident, responsible kids.
You are on board with half of each list.
You’ve cried in front of your kids and told them why.
You’ve yelled at your child when you were really upset with yourself.
They’ve heard you gossip on the phone.
They’ve seen you make the mistakes you will tell them to avoid.
You’ve defended your child to a coach when it would have been better to stand back.
You’ve hijacked their problem, comparing it to one you had at their age.
You know kids need to have the floor.
But they like knowing you got in trouble too.
You’re a good mom.
You explain your parenting decisions, but you are really defending them.
You hear yourself criticize other moms for being “too” – too accommodating, too selfish, too controlling.
You know about that, because you have "toos," too.
You take pride in your mom-intensity. You call yourself a mama bear.
But your child doesn’t need a bear to face the everyday world.
She only needs what you already give.
Although, you, once in a while, could use a bear.
You put pictures on Facebook of your smiling children.
You spend too much money on them.
You hide their flaws from others.
You hide your flaws from them.
You learn that you’re modeling perfection.
You know it can be fatal.
You’re a good mom.
You sulk when they eat out with friends at the last minute.
You complain when they aren’t polite.
You get upset when you have to clean up after them.
You feel unappreciated when they know you’re sick or sad and still ask you for a ride somewhere.
You explain this in clear terms.
You’re a good mom, better than you think.
You don’t breathe or count to ten, you go ahead and lose it over a teen’s attitude and raise your voice.
You tell him that a big mistake was his fault and not someone else’s and what's his plan to fix it?
You hate it when you’re right.
You ask questions, a lot of them, trite stuff – is it supposed to rain tonight? – to hear yourself talking to your teen again.
Your teen wants to talk when you’re ready to go to sleep and you say, “Sure, what’s up? Come on in.”
You shouldn’t solve their problems, you don’t have to, they don’t want you to.
You talk to them, even when they need space and you need quiet time.
You shouldn’t check their school and work schedules but you do because that’s what all of your friends do.
You’re a good mom, you’ll get it.
Later, when you’re by yourself, you smile at something funny she said once.
Later, you fold a t-shirt and some shorts and suddenly remember the way waistbands on toddler shorts always slipped below those full baby bellies.
Later, you remember the births.
You stand, mesmerized by the memories before your eyes.
The cry, remember? It was more like a squawk.
Those navy-blue eyes, roaming, searching for yours.
There are so many good moms looking at each other, wondering…
…who loses their patience?
…who feels like running away sometimes?
…who thinks their child is selfish, ungrateful, or unkind sometimes?
…who hides in the pantry, just to think? Anyone else?
Good moms do. All the time.
Much later, you go for a long walk with your college child and she says “my friends tell me 'your mom is awesome'."
You say, “They haven't met me.”
She says, “I know, but I tell them about you.”
You fall in love with that compliment forever.
You don’t need the report card that you will always find in the eyes of others.
Look for the questions in eyes of your child.
Show them the answers in yours.
And then, let it be you who says to the young moms out there, looking for who they are in everyone else’s eyes, not yet able to see it in their own:
You’re a good mom, oh yes you are.
You’re a good mom.