The Internet seems to be the greatest place in the universe to find out whether or not you're a bad mother. The litmus test of "bad" mothering these days seems to be as simple as leaving a comment about literally anything related to raising children, or disagreeing (even respectfully) with someone's standpoint online. Apparently, total strangers really are the best judges of our character and determining whether or not we deserve to have kids. There seems no good reason why we shouldn't all take every opportunity to share our opinions regarding other peoples' abilities to parent; even if they're in no way based on actual evidence.
So, because everyone else seems to be doing it and I'm just as susceptible to peer pressure as the next person, I've decided to share my two cents.
1. I don't believe there is such thing as a "bad" mom.
We are all just doing the best we can with the tools we have. If your mind immediately jumped to, 'Yeah, but what about those moms on the news who...' understand I mean those moms too. Some mothers suffer from untreated mental illness, and sometimes the voices win. Others struggle in different ways effecting their ability to connect or empathize due to situations out of their control.
I personally believe all mothers do the best they can with what they have. Unfortunately, some are unable to access the tools and/or support needed to overcome their struggle. It does not make them "bad" mothers. Just because someone does something we view as bad, doesn't mean they are bad.
2. You care.
Let's pretend "bad" mothers actually do exist for a moment. Let's assume they don't waste precious bad mothering time contemplating whether or not they're good mothers. So long as you care to ask the questions, you might also be willing to grow and change as a mother and adjust based on who you wish to be. These questions are healthy and set a great example for our kids by acknowledging that there is no perfect. We're all works in progress.
3. "Perfect" does not exist.
Oftentimes it appears that moms who don't measure up to the unattainable standard of perfection are deemed to be "bad." Whether it's others placing the label on us or we're putting that shit on ourselves, it doesn't matter. Since the idea of perfection is as real as The Tooth Fairy, so must be the idea that not achieving it proves "bad" motherhood. I suck at both math and science, but this seems pretty logical to me.
4. You're doing your best.
Even on the days you can't even -- the days you perhaps don't make it out of bed -- to work, weekly playgroup, or even the store -- you're doing your best. On the days you lose your temper and yell or lock yourself in the bathroom so you don't, you're doing your best.
Maybe you decide to try again tomorrow, or perhaps you make yourself do the things you don't want to. Either way, you're not giving up.
5. Because I said so.
What? I did mention these opinions don't have to be based on anything factual. If you're at all willing to believe someone else who might suggest you're a "bad" mom for no good reason, I hope you'll indulge me as well.
I think you're a great mom, and I'll tell you every day. Although I'm totally guilty of placing these labels on myself at times, I don't believe they help anyone. If you're struggling, I want to help you. I have absolutely no desire to make any part of your life harder. I wish to encourage you to be whatever kind of mom you want to be because I know what it's like to struggle with motherhood. I know what it's like to be the non-custodial parent during a discussion about how "children belong with their mothers." I know what it's like to wrestle with something beyond my control and have it spill into every aspect of my life. I know what it's like to feel like a "bad" mom.
I know judgment, but I also know hope.
I understand I don't have power to change how you feel about yourself, but I want you to know you're NOT a bad mother. I want you to know that anyone who feels the need to take stock of your mothering abilities and use them against you is probably just struggling with their own insecurities. I want you to know you have support; because I know there's very little we can't get through with help.
I want you to know you're not alone. As you read this, there is a group of mothers waiting to show you understanding and judgment-free support.
This blog post was originally published on Next Life, NO Kids.