Good Mom

Yesterday afternoon I posted this as my status on facebook: “The boys came home from school under the impression that leprechauns would visit our house today – which is a shame, because I was under the impression this was one of those holidays I didn’t have to go to any effort for.” Half an hour later I updated the post with my last-minute solution: adding food coloring to the muffins I was already making anyway and telling them a leprechaun must’ve turned the muffins green, and then sending the boys outside with a tupperware container to search for little people. The whole thing took minimal effort on my part, plus it got the kids out of the house: win.

I wrote the post as a way of poking fun at myself for such lazy parenting – so when I started getting comments like, “Good job – this is why you’re such a good mom!” I was truly surprised. A few drops of food coloring followed by shooing the boys out the front door are far from what I would’ve thought a Good Mom would do in that situation – no, her solution would’ve involved leaving a trail of tiny green footprints to a hidden cache of chocolate gold coins, or something, and then having the kids help her mix the green muffin batter. And maybe taking the muffins to the homeless shelter. Maybe while speaking conversational French with the kids so that they could grow up to be fluent in a foreign language. No, mine wasn’t the Good Mom method, it was the do-enough-to-make-them-happy-and-get-them-out-of-my-hair-so-I-can-go-back-to-watching-hulu-while-I-cook-dinner method.

Jennifer The Therapist has been trying to get me to see that the bar I’ve set is unattainably high. She’s been arguing that I’m trying to compare my mothering to that of my mom – and not even to my actual mom, but to my saintly dead mom whom I have only fuzzy memories of, and so whom I’ve built up in my head as being inhumanly perfect and loving and Susie Homemaker-y. She’s been gently trying to make me understand that no one can meet that standard, not even my mom herself. I’ve not been buying it; but when some of the women that I hold up as Good Moms, much better moms than me, left me compliments on what I considered to be a rather lackluster parenting moment – well, it gave Jennifer’s words a bit more oomph.

The boys talked all afternoon about the green muffins, and when Aaron got home from work Noah gravely hypothesized that a leprechaun had sprinkled magical green dust in the oven when the three of us were in the other room; they didn’t have any luck catching a leprechaun in the yard, but they were optimistic to try again next year on St. Patrick’s Day – “I’ll be older and faster and trickier then,” said David.  So I guess if it got their imaginations and their bodies working faster for an afternoon, that’s Good Mothering enough, even if it doesn’t live up to the standards in my head. With any luck I’ll get through these 18 years without them ever noticing I’m not a Good Mother.


10 Responses to “Good Mom”

  1. 1 justin March 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    you’re going to be an even better mother than yours was, because you’re not going to abandon your motherly duties under the weak excuse of “dying”, like she did. let’s face it- that was terribly inconsiderate of her, and something you would never do. well i mean, at least not until they’re all growned up. then, you are going to die, abi. you’re going to die.

    don’t you feel all better about this whole thing now??


    • 2 abilocity March 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      Yes! I will stay in the kitchen where I belong, making muffins and speaking French, until my children are through with me. Then and only then will I slink off into that dark night, once they’ve sucked all the life right out of me.

      (In all maudlin seriousness, I have sort of an action plan in place for that possibility – it’s a large part of why I’m such an avid scrapbooker and journaler. I want my kids to be able to have these parts of their childhoods, from my perspective anyway, even if I’m not around to give it to them. So there’s that.)

  2. 3 kalita March 18, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I think it was a Smart Mum thing! You didn’t ignore them, or cut them down and tell them leprechauns don’t exist. You put a little green in their muffins (zero effort) and a little spark in their imaginations, and they had a blast talking about green dust and catching leprechauns, so that’s a win, and they went outside and left you alone, and that’s a bigger win!

  3. 5 sambone March 18, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    They might’ve actually caught a leprechaun, or at least thought they did, if you’d used a different kind of “green dust” in the muffins, if you know what I’m sayin’, *wink wink nudge nudge*

  4. 7 whirlygig27 March 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    maybe that in case dying happened for you as well, perhaps your doing your children a disservice by being such an awesome mom now, because they too will be stuck with this image of saintly perfection that no woman will ever be able to compete with. so i think really maybe you ought to be unattentive and ornery.
    out of love =)

    • 8 abilocity March 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      You’re absolutely right! “Sorry, honey, Mommy can’t play with you right now because she doesn’t want you to have unrealistic expectations for yourself later in life. It’s for your future happiness, sweetie. Now go away. Oh, and don’t trip over that box of matches, medicines without childproof lids, and poisonous snakes on your way out.”

  5. 9 Leslie March 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I thought it was a quick and creative reaction to your boys thinking it was a holiday! I would have probably laughed and said “No, we don’t celebrate St. Patricks” and explained why. You had fun with it and let them have a bit of imagination.

  6. 10 Rachel April 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    These comments are cracking me up 🙂

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