At the end of my senior year in college, I was bummed beyond belief. Yeah, I had a degree, but I was graduating at the height of the 2008 recession, job prospects were low, and I was single! That last one made meeting my goals a little tricky because I was supposed to be married by 25, have my first child by 26 and a half, and be the leader of the cool fit moms (natural progression for a high school and college cheerleader).
After all, “being a wife and mother is the most important thing a woman can do.” Yeah, I know, I hate her too. But that’s who I was. Being raised in a small suburb of Charleston, SC, most of my friends from high school were married three to nine months after graduation. I was an old maid.
Fast forward to 2011, I’m in the second year of my cushy residence life job that afforded me the privilege of on-campus living, not having to pay rent and disposable income. That fall, I was reintroduced to an “uber” frat guy I met in undergrad, who would later become my husband. After a whirlwind romance, I found out I was pregnant (I was 27 and late, by the way) and was thrust into that very important role I believed every woman was to do. Now I just wanted to do it well. I wanted to be a “good mom.”
What is a “Good” Mom Anyway?
If you’re a mother, I’m sure you have familiarized yourself with all that a “good mom” should be. If not, I’ll fill you in according to the book of Jessica.
A “good” mom…
- Always does what is best for her child.
- She always bakes the cupcakes for the class party. Only a mom who doesn’t care would buy them.
- She will always serve fresh fruit at the playdate.
- She puts her child’s needs before hers.
- She always wants to be around her child and never resents them.
- Most importantly, she never lets other moms see her sweat, cry, scream, bend or break … just to name a few traits.
I quickly learned with my firstborn child, Jackson, that all of the absolutes and “shoulds” of being a “good” mom were unsustainable! But I pressed on anyway, and honestly, he made it easy.
If I’m Not a “Good” Mom, Then What?
It wasn’t until I had my second child, my character builder, Streater, my bundle of joy who came pushing her way into this world without waiting for a doctor or nurse, that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would need to become something more.
Streater made it clear that her needs required a different parenting style than Jackson’s. Streater and I had lots of trials and few tribulations. She was tongue-tied and could not transfer milk as needed. Streater was losing weight rapidly, cried all the time, and did not sleep. I was convinced she didn’t like me (three years later, still not 100% sure).
One night, as I sat crying at her bedroom door, I thought, “I’m not a good mom. I’m trash, and I’ve failed.” Now, what I am about to say did not come together for me at the moment, but as I continued moving the best way I knew how, it was clear that I had a choice to make. I could continue to compare myself to other moms and look at how I parent as a negative thing, or I could begin to recognize that no two moms parent the same because no two moms have the same kids. I chose the latter. I began to see that kids (and partners, but that’s for another post) deserve TRASH parents (and partners).
A TRASH parent is: Thoughtful, Rested, Accountable, Secure, and Happy!
Simply put, these five attributes are something every parent should hope to be. they allow you to parent from a place of authenticity that is both mom AND child-centered. This parenting philosophy encourages and models learning from one’s mistakes, and not striving for excellence.
Our children don’t need “good moms” seeking to be perceived a certain way by other moms. They don’t care that you bought cupcakes instead of baking them yourself, and they are thankful you took the time you would have spent making cupcakes to play with them instead. Children need mothers who lean into the belief that they have been endowed with all they need to parent the children they have been entrusted with. I’m not a good mom, I’m a TRASH mama raising TRASH citizens, and you can too!