Saturday, October 26, 2013

Are There Good and Bad Mothers?

We just got back our family photos.

In this pic, the boys couldn't believe we would flirt with danger to take pictures on a train track.  I think we setback years of safety lectures.  

They certainly look angelic in these photos:)

These capture the true spirit of our family!  

Collin and I sat cross-legged on the carpet.  He clutched a handful of superhero figurines.  Eyeing the bunch, he offered me a few.  

"I'll be the good guys and you be the bad guys," he instructed.

Side note: In my decade of superhero play, I've never been selected as a good guy!

Immediately, his good guys waged waves of fierce attacks against my poor, defenseless bad guys.  After the umpteenth pummel, I realized the fate of our imaginary world was quickly shifting in the direction of the good guys. I no longer wanted to be on the side of the bad guys.  I wanted to land on the side of the victors; I longed to be good.

"Collin," I began.  "I don't think my guys are really bad.  I think they're just good guys having a bad day."

"No way," he fired back.  "They're bad guys."

"Couldn't they just be bad guys down on their luck.  Perhaps with a little love and attention (maybe even a mentor), they could magically transform into good guys," I suggested.

He remained unconvinced.

"Are they really that bad?" I questioned.

After tossing out many different scenarios, I realized that Collin's superhero world is black and white; superheroes are either bad or good.  Period.  No shades of gray.

I reflected on my own thinking.  In what areas do I hold similar black and white notions?  Immediately, I thought about motherhood.  Are there really bad and good mothers?  I've certainly labeled myself both ways, but seem to land more frequently on the side of bad.

A toddler tantrum at the mall.

I'm a bad mother; good mother's have their children under control.

Lip from a tween.

I'm a bad mother; good mother's have tweens that exalt their mother's virtues. 

A fight between brothers.

I'm a bad mother; good mother's create peace and harmony among siblings.

I wonder:

Do only the bad mothers lose their tempers?

Do only the bad mothers have misbehaving children?

Do only the bad mothers let their children eat cereal for dinner?

Or do good mothers do that too.

And then:

What constitutes a good versus bad mother?  

Who gets to decide?

My sage mother once said when clobbered by negative thoughts, focus on the truth.

The truth?

The truth, I concluded, is good mothers are not perfect parents with sinless children.  Good mothers make mistakes.  Good mothers have bad days.  Good mothers are the ones who despite life's setbacks and challenges still try to do the best job they possibly can with their own children.  Good mothers make baby steps forward.  

By this definition I'm not a perfect mother, but I'm a good mother.


  1. OH MY GOODNESS! I love love love your pictures! The one of the 4 boys together is priceless! LOVE! BTW - You are an awesome mother! Your boys are so blessed to call you Mom! :)

  2. Thanks Erin! You'll probably see one of these pictures in the Christmas card!