Having health problems can force you to have some “spiritual awakenings.” For me, there are a lot of things I physically can’t always do for my children: like cook, clean, get them dressed, etc. Unfortunately, to me, those were the things that I most associated with being a “good mother.” Before I was parent and/or a parent with physical limitations, I was very clear on the role of a “good mother”; and good mothers “do things” for their children.
But, for reasons beyond my control now, I can’t always do things. Somedays, I can’t even get out of bed. And I have had to grapple with the guilt that accompanies that. To me, parenting=doing things. However, with a lot of help from therapy and prayer, I am beginning to create a new definition for being a “good parent.”
Which led to me to review my prior definition of what it means to be a “good mother.” I now believe parenting is on a personal spectrum. And, the desire to be a “good parent,” or the pain of not coming from a “good parent” is driving a lot of us, mothers AND fathers, sons AND daughters, to have a lot of unnecessary grief and pain. Parenting is not comparative. Parenting is personal and it is doing what “you” can do, even if it is only a little bit.
Parenting is, to me, providing life and love. I am trying hard to adopt a “love-based parenting” philosophy. My love-based parenting, means that I give my children love, I love myself, and I love my parents for exactly who and what they are and for doing what they can. For me, I am a “good mother” because I got my children here. I carried them in my stomach and birthed them. That’s what I could do. Even if I can’t “do physical things,” I tell my children I love them everyday. For those two things, I consider myself “a good mother.”
Sure, if I look at what my friends and other healthy mothers do with their children, I can feel inadequate. But, in the end, what good does that do? What do we get by feeling guilty or cheated out of something?
My spiritual epiphany is this: Parents do what they can do. We are all terribly imperfect people. Most parents, mothers and fathers, do the best “they” can do. Sometimes “the best they can do” isn’t very good. Especially if you are comparing it to “the good mothers.” But whatever they do, or didn’t do, is what it is.
In the end, our mothers and our fathers did something right, they got us here. And the same for us parents carrying guilt about not doing enough for our children, especially today for the mothers who feel guilty and are getting beat up on, or the children of those mothers who see all the beautiful tributes to “good mothers.”
Each of us are made very specific DNA that makes us who we are and that DNA is something to be grateful for. So today, we can say something to ALL mothers. Even if it is just thank you, mom, for helping to create me, because your DNA helped make me pretty cool. I extend that same grace to myself with my own children. Our parents got us here, now the next part is up to us. We can live with anger, regret, disappointment, about something that we didn’t have OR we can fill the gaps and mend our wounds. I choose to use my very limited energy on love.