I blame my parents for my lack of maternal instinct. They refused to buy me a Cabbage Patch Kid citing they didn’t want me to rely on material things to make me happy in life. I do however, give them credit for my work ethic. They told me if I wanted to buy things, I’d have to get a job. I began working as a janitor at age thirteen and then became a salon receptionist at fifteen.
Friends and boyfriends would always be surprised when I said I didn’t want to have children, “What? You’d be a great mom!” would be their response.
But what makes a great mom? What were they seeing in me that would make them believe I could handle diapers, late night feedings and giving up high heeled shoes?
Well turns out I did have a child. In the first year of my marriage my ex-husband, Peter, lost his father to a motorcycle crash. It was devastating. Peter wanted to fill the void his father left by starting a family of his own. I reluctantly agreed and we immediately got pregnant.
That was an incredibly challenging time for me. I was finishing my degree at the U of M (I had left my sophomore year to go to the Aveda Institute), I was the breadwinner (Peter was in a Doctorate program), and had just quit my full time job to start a business.
It was important to me to be a stay-at-home mom. I thought it would be an ideal situation to have a business that I could ‘work from home’ and also be at home with my baby. For any of you that plan on doing that, don’t. It’s unrealistic. Or at least it didn’t work for me. I eventually put Evan in part-time day care and it gave me the extra time to build my business and it saved my sanity.
While having my own business afforded me the freedom to make my own schedule, it’s growth and success really took away from the quality of time with my child. I started questioning if I was the great mom that everyone believed I would be. Part of the many reasons why I sold the business was to spend more time with Evan, only to find that a full time job (I had one briefly that didn’t fit the hours of Evan’s day care) and owning a smaller scale business still presented its share of challenges in how to balance a career and a family. It became even more challenging when I made the decision to be a single mother (in the financial sense, Peter has 50/50 custody). Peter is a hands-on dad and we co-parent very well and efficiently together. And while I didn’t appreciate the unsolicited psychoanalysis during our marriage, it is helpful to have a Doctor of Psychology in the family when figuring out how to raise a child. I remember when I was having a nervous meltdown about being a good mom, Peter said,
“You don’t have to be a perfect mom, you just have to be a good enough mom. All we need to give Evan is warmth, acceptance, love and guidance and he’ll turn out fine.”
That advice resonated with me, and in my moments when I am about to lose my mommy mind, I repeat the mantra in my head, warmth, acceptance, love and guidance.
The advice also loosened me up and instead of focusing on being a perfect mom, I focused on being a fun mom.
I took Evan to Denver this past week for his birthday. I want to travel with him as much as possible before it’s uncool to hang with his mother.
On the trip I asked Evan how I could be a better mother to him and he responded,
“You don’t need to be a better mom, if you were a better mom it would weird me out.” (Which I interpreted as meaning a helicopter mom.)
Then I asked him what he needed from me and he responded,
So it turns out my friends were right about being a great mom. Providing warmth, acceptance, love and guidance comes naturally to me as it does to most people. This makes parenting less daunting and more doable. When you take on that perspective, why not have ten children? Just kidding. Now that just sounds scary.
A photo of my birthday boy from the trip—totally pooped out!