As my friend drove us home from the grocery store, I wondered aloud: “Why oh why must motherhood be so hard?” And she replied: “It’s hard only because you care.”
Being a perfect mother is impossible.
Being a great mother is a tall order.
Being a good mother is challenging.
Challenged I am every day as I struggle to fulfill everyone’s needs: mine, my husband’s, my daughter’s.
As I set out to nurture my little girl and bring out the best in her, I am hindered by the worst that resides in me. Selfishness. Impatience. Anger. It’s a daily duel within to bring forth the good and defeat the bad so this new soul I carried into the world can flourish.
I have won many battles but I have yet to win the war. I am not sure I ever will.
Can I be flawed and still be a good mother?
Can my child soar even when my own limitations weigh her down?
If I am sweet more often than I yell.
If I praise more often than I criticize.
If I am gentle more often than I am rough.
Surely this will tip the balance over favorably?
Surely this will be good enough?
When I look back on my own childhood, there is no doubt that both of my parents made big mistakes in raising me. Yet as an adult, I enjoyed a good relationship with my father while I decided to be estranged from my mother. What did he do better to earn a special place in my life? Simple. He showed me Love.
It was Love that made him nag me to check the oil and water levels anytime I’d get the car key.
It was Love that kept him up whenever I was going out at night.
It was Love that motivated him to call me every Saturday without fail after I’d moved to another country.
With Love, he would ask me to tag along with him on business errands. With Love he’d cook me special meals. (He made an amazing omelette and a mean potato curry.)
My father was imperfect. There are traits in him that I didn’t care for. But I knew him to be a good man, who strived to do good things and I knew that he loved me and that he wanted nothing more in life than my happiness.
He only said the words “I love you” once, when I was 30, but his actions, my whole life, were permeated with Love.
In contrast, to this day, I cannot say for sure that my mother has ever truly loved me. She’s never said so even when asked, and her actions proved otherwise. She’s always given me a sense that I was a burden without which her life would have been better. She once told me in earnest that “if she could go back, she wouldn’t have had any children”.
I am not my mother. I can overcome my shortcomings. I can tap into the magical powers of Love.
What selfishness takes, Love can give back.
What anger damages, Love can heal.
What fear inflicts, Love can redeem.
I need not be perfect. There is plenty I will mess up. There are things I will do that may send my dear child to therapy when she’s older. But when she’s there, I hope she’ll say:
“My mother is a good woman who strives to do good things and I know that she loves me and that she wants nothing more in life than my happiness. All my life she has meant well. She has been and remains my greatest supporter. She is my mother and my friend and I LOVE HER!”
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