Between the Sheets

The Good Mother Manifesto

This is what I worry about, probably more than anything else in my life: Do I play with my kids enough?

I work, (obviously.) I try to only work three days a week, but do you think that assuages my guilt? (It doesn't.) Every time I walk out that door to my store, it happens. That voice. How could you? How can you leave them? You don't play with them enough! You don't spend enough quality time with them! And then, the lowest blow, you are a baaaaad mother.

Once the guilt starts, all my shortcomings get REAL loud inside my head. I'm selfish. I don't go to the park enough. They eat too much Kraft Dinner. We've never been to Canada's Wonderland. I don't enforce nightly flossing. (I know, I know.) I check my emails too much. I tweet too much. (Don't worry, she's at a playdate now + he's napping.) My husband and I talk about the business too much...

Which brings me to what happened yesterday. I was sitting in a meeting and my cell phone was vibrating. Midway through, I checked my voice-mail. It was my neighbour. "Jo, Lukey is being taken away in an ambulance!"

(It was a febrile seizure. He's totally fine now.)

All night last night, as I lay with him, checking his temperature every hour, rubbing his tummy with a warm cloth, never once closing my eyes, I had this thought: "Maybe I am a pretty good mother."

But then I had another thought, about the previous thought: I'm not a pretty good mom because I'm staying up with him through the night! I'm selling myself short.  I am a pretty good mom for all kinds of reasons, far less dramatic ones, too! I realized last night that I've got to stop bludgeoning myself about the kind of mother I am. Is perfection my only acceptable standard? Well, that's never going to happen. Not as long as Kraft Dinner is on the market.

You know what? In that moment when I was racing to the hospital, not sure what to expect, it was as crystal clear as it's ever been to me: NOTHING in the world matters more to me than my children. I am doing my damn best with and for them every day. And I love them with the purest heart and the most selfless intentions. That makes me a pretty good mother.