Mom Enough? Really?

On the eve of Mother’s Day, I found myself asking “Am I mom enough?” yet again.

As I checked out the cover of this week’s issue of Time magazine, I was plagued by images of what is meant by this statement. I thought about family members that advised me on “tough love” and letting my children “cry it out”. As I saw the image of the “cover-mom” nursing her three-year-old son I wondered what it meant to be “mom enough” and why we are having this tone of social discourse about motherhood. It seems to me that motherhood includes the decisions we make and the things we do that make lasting positive impressions on our children’s lives and well being. And because we are individuals with unique combinations of: cultures, histories, education, experiences and life situations (both positive and negative) these parenting decisions will be different for every mom.

When we begin to ask questions like “Are you mom enough?” whether in a true or satirical manner we begin to place judgements and value on the various styles of parenting that are practiced all over the world. And this environment is a breeding ground for competitiveness rather than support. Why do we do this to ourselves? Parenting is such an intense labor of love that we sometimes begin to internalize the comments (both positive and negative) that are made about our parenting decisions and practices and assume that these comments are a measure of our personal worth. Have you ever walked away from a conversation with another parent feeling like you are not a “good mother”? This feeling can be cumbersome and hard to shake off at times. When this happens I find it hard to focus on the things that I do well as a mother. This can put me in a downward spiral where my feelings begin to dictate my actions, I feel worse, I loose sight of the things I know to be good parenting practice, and  act accordingly. I am then left with less confidence in my parenting skills and the cycle continues. I usually need some encouraging event or comment from my peers to put me back in a confident positive “mommy mode”.

This Mother’s Day, I challenge every mother to reflect on the things we can do to encourage and support each other as mothers. Instead of asking “Am I mom enough?” let’s ask “Am I supportive enough?” Look for the positive things every mother is doing for the good of her children and tell her so. Thank her. Encourage her. Praise her. Because we all need reinforcement when the going gets tough. Motherhood is not a competition. It is a state of being. So let’s BE positive. Let’s BE supportive. After all, it takes a village…