The Motherhood Manual: How I’ve brain-washed my kids

Today I decided to do a bit of a departure from my traditional Motherhood Manual post, and I asked my kids if they think I’m a good mom.  Ha!  Like they can give any answer other than yes, to the person who feeds them, drives them, provides their allowance, etc.  So, knowing their very existence was at stake, they went with a casual “ya…”  I think they knew there would be more to it.

The thing is I think I’m a good mom, but what really makes up a “good” mom?  I got to thinking about this last week after writing my Motherhood post in which I said a very bad word and just drove off in the midde of the night.  I have a lot (no really, A LOT) of stories that don’t portray me in the best light as far as ratings for “fit mother” go, but I know I’m a good mom. As I said, my kids even tell me so.

What is it, though, that determines good “mom-ness?”  I decided that I’d make a list of ten things that I think make me a good mom.  This is like a little Valentine’s Day love-fest gift to me… then we’ll get back to the realities of my mothering.

Here goes:

1.  I love them no matter what and tell them so.  They know that even at points when I don’t like them much, I still love them and will wait for them to be likable again.  Luckily they do the same for me!   🙂

2.  I make them feel good about themselves (it’s easy- I think they’re awesome!)

3.  I make them chocolate chip cookies (okay, those are also for me, but I like it that they think I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world.)

4.  I tuck them in at night.  Always.

5.  I laugh with them and make them laugh (please, God, don’t let them outgrow me and my elementary school sense of humor.)

6.  I pray with them each night (and other times, but not as much as I should)

7.  I try to be better and I tell them

8.  I let them (and me) make mistakes

9.  I expect them to do their best or be aware of the choice they’re making if they don’t

10. I love their daddy

I don’t think this is a list that matches all moms.  I’m sure there are phenomenal moms that make nasty chocolate chip cookies, or no longer love their children’s dad, or are better examples for their children than I am.  This list is not a one-ups-manship (how the heck do you write that word?); clearly, since pretty much all of my Motherhood Manual posts have been and will be showcasing my less than fine mothering moments (wait till you hear about the hole I kicked in a wall.  nice.).  It’s just a list of some of what I think makes me a good mom to my boys.

Now, in an effort to round out the picture for all of you, I also asked my boys if they could back up my “good mother-ness” with any hard evidence… and if they’d like to write it up in a little essay to submit to some award presenting organization.  At this point they are just going with the “fine… exasperated sigh… mom, here’s why you’re a good mom” option.  Maybe I’ll compile it for them and all they’ll have to do is sign their little signatures at the bottom and mail it off (in the self-addressed, stamped envelope I provide).  I’m pretty sure that making them compile a list of good mom traits didn’t make it on their lists of why they’re glad I’m their mom.  They’re good sports, though, so they did it anyway and didn’t even complain about it.

Here are their lists:


1. Sense of Humor (that gets used)

2. Your Smile

3. You’re you

4. You Love Me

5. You don’t get mad easily

6. Your voice overs (see number 1 )

7. You feed me

8. You don’t argue with us (cuz ur the boss)

9. You’re fun to hang out with.

10. You let us stay up as long as we rub your back.


1. You love Jacob and me.

2. Even if you’re ticked off and feel like you want to punch something, you will purposely punch the wall or something else instead. (reference 😉)

3. You are helpful.

4. You can tell when Jacob or I is upset.

5. You are funny (I know that that doesn’t seem important, but it makes things… lighter?).

6. You listen to our thoughts and opinions and support us.

7. You don’t always make things TOO easy for us.

8. You have a good sense of us. (As in, you know our personalities, what we like, what makes us uncomfortable, why we enjoy things, etc.)

9. You come to all of our events and encourage us to do things (like events) that we might not have wanted to do at first.

10. You give us great surprises.

11. You are generous.

12. You do things that are stuff that Jacob or I should have done (clean the bathrooms, clean the litter box, etc.) in some of your spare time.

I really wanted to edit a couple of things on their lists (uh, number 2 on Spencer’s list!), but decided that one of the things that I really like about Jodi Picoult (author) is what a good job she does of portraying the multiple sides of a person’s character (see number 5 on Jacob’s list).  No one is unidimensional and you can love, hate, sympathize with, and condemn the character all at the same time.  So, I’m giving you the full picture of me.  No person is one event or one behavior.  It’s all a mish mash.

So, there you have it.  My mish mash, complete with punching references*, beer & tea, bad words and midnight drives.  It’s easy to see the mistakes and the bumpy parts of the road, but that’s not the whole picture any more than the sweet baby in the Hallmark pictures is the complete reality.    I can have all that and still be a good mom.

So, as much I like to laugh at my less than smooth transition into motherhood, I think it’s important to also see what I’m doing really well.  If you don’t know what you’re doing well, ask someone.  If you know a mom, tell her (specifically) something that you think makes her a good mom.  It doesn’t have to be big or spectacular.  It can be something really simple.  But every mother out there should know what she does is valued.  So, when you’re done reading this post, share a little Valentine’s Day love and leave a sticky note for a mom you know that lets her know you notice some little thing she does.

To my mom, you are all of my most generous and forgiving traits.  Thank you.  I love you.

So, what do you think makes you a good mom?  Ask your kids what they think makes you a good mom.  Remind them first that the nicer they are the better their days will go.  Tell us what they said.  Tell us what you think.  Leave a comment; talk yourself up!  Happy almost Valentine’s Day.  🙂

*As for the punching/hole in the wall reference, you just need to know there was poop, throw up, and no daddy.  If you want to hear more about that one, you’ll have to click “follow” and sign up for my posts, though so you don’t miss it.

14 thoughts on “The Motherhood Manual: How I’ve brain-washed my kids

  1. What a great post!! I loved it! I really love your mom and dad. You are a wonderful mom and I love your whole family.

  2. Thank you. You are one of the 2 reasons I absolutely, even on crumby days, love being a mom. I, too, have thought I was/am a good mom, but I had/have such easy children to mother! And, yes, you are hands down, a good mom. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  3. I love how you say that your list is not a one-up to other moms. I think as mothers there is a tendancy to compare yourself, and for some a little competition wanting to be a better mother, or wanting thier kid to be a better child. Recognizing that it’s not a cookie cutter job, and that what may work for you could be completely wrong for someone else is a powerful thing, because I’ve heard many a mom on the playground belittle other moms out of earshot. “Can you believe she did this? Or that her child said that?” “My Tommy would never do that!”

    I think you are a great mom because even though you know greatness may be unachievable, you strive for it anyway. Good post.

    • Thanks! I know what you mean. I think moms are often so hard on other moms. Maybe it makes it easier to feel secure about ones own mothering. Who knows. Anyway, it’s too bad. Thanks for your comment, compliment, and perspective!

  4. Love it! Makes me want to ask my kids what they think. Maybe I’ll wait till after I butter them up with ice cream and out trip to Disneyland!!

  5. I was so touched by your post that I left “little sticky notes” on most of my friends facebook page…. you are right- sometimes we just need a little compliment to help us get through some of the harder days!!

    My sticky note to (all of ) you as a mommy:

    “You are strong, you can get through the more “trying” days.. it’s ok to feel like you need a glass of wine during naptime…. it’s even ok to drink it! Overall we are all more complete with our children in our lives and for me I couldn’t be happier with the playdoh in my hair!! ” xoxo

  6. Thanks for visiting my latest post “Divine passage into yah-yah motherhood – 6 telltale signs that I joined the order” at my blog and also telling me about your blog.

    Enjoyed the humour of your posts -it’s comforting to know how many of us wing it 🙂 and get by. I liked this post in particular – not only because I like lists (yep) – but that it’s good to remember what we have done well every once in a while. Happy belated Valentine’s and I will be checking into your blog from now on!

    • Thanks so much! I think we’re all winging it; it’s just that not everyone is willing to admit it. I’ve always found that once I think I’ve got it all under control, it gets all mixed up again!

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