I have never met a mother who doesn't want to be a good mom. I have also yet to meet a mom who doesn't feel like she's failing miserably at least part of the time.
The problem is that, too often, we compare ourselves to others. Worse, we compare our weaknesses to others' strengths.
The truth is that there are lots of different ways to be a mother. For example, you might be one of these kinds of mothers:
Touchy feely mom
The touchy feely mom is the mom that tells her children, “I love you” when they leave for school in the morning and every night before bed. She is known to give random hugs. Hers is the best shoulder to cry on when a child has a broken heart. She is not afraid to let her kids know how she feels, and she wants to know how they are feeling, too. Because of her openness, she may make “the talk” more uncomfortable than it has to be. Secret Weapon: Guilt.
The strict mom has rules and curfews. Her children finish their homework before dinner and clean their rooms before they can go out to play. She knows where her children are, with whom and what they are doing at all times. She does not allow cookies to be eaten half an hour before meals, and bed times are strictly observed. Her children's friends never say, “But Sandy's mom said it would be OK.” Secret Weapon: “There will be consequences.”
The cool mom knows all the latest and coolest bands. She takes her teenagers to concerts and invites their friends. She knows how to throw a mean pizza party. She can beat her kids at Guitar Hero. She's not afraid to bust into song and dance while driving down the road with her children — but only if they start singing and dancing first. Cool Mom never wears mom jeans. Secret Weapon: She has all her kids' friends' phone numbers. She has a cell phone and knows how to use it.
The granola mom gives birth at home. She has health insurance but never has to use it, because she has so many natural remedies on hand. Her children eat red bell peppers for treats. She most likely homeschools or even (gasp!) unschools her children because she wants their learning to be as organic as possible. When Granola Mom eats chocolate, it is always dark. Secret Weapon: Master of disguise. She can hide vegetables in everything from macaroni and cheese to chicken nuggets.
The cheerleader mom never misses her children's sporting events, plays or concerts. She sits on the front row of the bleachers, and her voice carries farther than every other parent's. She has, on occasion, made her kids cringe from embarrassment. She is not afraid to get up in the coach's face and ask why Jimmy didn't get more playing time. She is often the team mom. Cheerleader Mom knows there's nothing better than ice cream when her child doesn't get the lead or loses the big game. Secret Weapon: Voice of thunder.
The survivor mom might have a new baby or more than one child. Her house is messy, except on that one day when she finally gets it clean, but nobody drops by to witness the event. She wears sweat pants, often the same pair several days in a row. Jeans and a T-shirt are considered dressing up. Showering is a luxury. Her children wear mismatched clothes to school, and sometimes they eat cold cereal for dinner. Her greatest accomplishment is that each night, she and her children are still alive. Secret Weapon: Tenacity.
I have a confession to make. I have, at different times in my life, been all of those moms. Occasionally, all in the same day. I've also been the mom who has used PBS as a babysitter, forgotten to pick her kids up from school and allowed her children to eat Halloween or Easter candy for breakfast.
Mothering is hard. There is no “right” way to be a mother, and you don't have to be perfect. God gave you the children you have now for a reason. He believed in you and still believes that you are exactly what your children need to grow up healthy, happy and productive. You are doing a great job.
It is important to remember that God loves us and he loves our children. He is always there to guide us if we ask him. With his help, every mother can become what she really wants to be: