As a young girl, I have painted in my mind what my ideal man would be. As a young lady, I have already planned my dream wedding. And after I got married, I looked forward to becoming a mother. But this time, I wondered what kind of mother I would be.
Every mother wants to be the best for their kids. But what does it mean to be a great mom? How can one be at least good enough? ‘How can I be a good mom’ is a question that has been bothering me the moment I learned that I was pregnant.
The Mom I Wished My Mother Had Been
I got this idea that a good mom is someone who should always be present and is stable (mentally and emotionally). Can I live up to those two simple qualifications?
Every motherhood story is a different anecdote to tell because each one has her style of raising her kids, which is sometimes influenced by how she was raised by her own mother. A mother is often portrayed as loving, selfless, caring, and always willing to serve her kids. But for me, those are just ideas, as I never saw those traits from my own mother who was absent, unstable, and very self-focused.
“A good enough mother is sincerely preoccupied with being a mother. She pays attention to her child. She provides a holding environment. She offers both physical and emotional care. She provides security. When she fails, she tries again. She weathers painful feelings. She makes sacrifices. She tends her child with love, patience, effort, and care,” said pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott.
Pressures Of Motherhood
I was conceived and born out of wedlock, and my mom had been consumed by being in and out of relationships. But I’m not taking that against her. I can just imagine how sad it was to be alone and how hard it was to raise a child on her own. But what I had experienced, I promised not to repeat to my own kids. I want them to grow up seeing me taking care of them, loving them, and unconditionally doing everything I can for them. My wounds will never be theirs because I want them to grow up secure of my love and affection and confident because they are trusted. I want them to feel protected physically and stable emotionally and mentally.
I admit that it is not easy, but I am trying my best to do what I can especially now that my daughter is in her teen years. As all parents of a teenager know, this is the phase of your child’s life where she may start to hide herself in her room and begin to be secretive and somewhat becoming unreasonable, like how we were when we were at that age.
“If we can develop more realistic expectations of ourselves, we relieve ourselves of the greatest pressure of all: the unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect,” said Jennifer Kunst, PhD.
To understand and get along with your teenager more, it would be helpful if as a mother you would remember that:
- This phase of teenage life (puberty) is very much like a woman undergoing menopause when it comes to mood changes.
- It would be hard, but it’s time to give her space and at the same time be always present when she needs you. When she has questions, be ready to explain things in a way that she will understand, especially concerning her puberty, changes in her body and emotions.
- By nature, mothers are protective and nurturing, but our children are aware that we can’t solve everything. Though we are expected to teach them to make wise life choices, there are times when we are also expected to just watch and listen as they do their thing.
- Your child is not you, so do not always speculate that she might make the same mistakes as you did. We all have our likes and dislikes as we all want to be our own unique selves.
- It’s okay if your child spends more time with her friends, either face to face or on Facetime and Facebook. If you are confident that you have raised her well enough, trust her that she will not do anything that she is not supposed to. But if ever she does make a mistake, you don’t always need to be loud or mad. Instead, talk to her in a way that she will listen to you and calmly make her understand and realize her mistakes.
As the saying goes, your anger will not solve anything, nor will it make anything better, but it can quickly ruin everything.
“As mothers, we owe it to our children to work hard to cleave to the high road instead. The high road requires that we take stock of ourselves and regulate our emotions, keep our boundaries clear, and stay attuned to our children,” said researcher Peg Streep.
Allow your teenager to learn from her own mistakes, not yours. When you first learned how to drive, you were allowed to hold the wheel. Teach your child the necessary things she needs to know and let her take control of the steering wheel and decide what road she will undertake.
The focus should not always be about how to be a good mom, but how to better communicate and understand her. Take time to build a relationship with your kid in order to be there for her as she enjoys the sometimes frustrating but happy journey of being a teenager.