You Are a Good Mom

Several years ago, I told a friend that her husband was a good dad. He was "hands on", really involved, caring, etc. She said thanks, he was. Then she mentioned that no one ever told her that she's a good mom - she does all the things her husband does, but doesn't get recognition because it's what people expect of mothers. Being a product of a society that places supermom expectations on women and very little expectations on men as fathers, I played right into it.

There's a hilarious scene in an episode entitled "Crazy Mom" on the ABC sitcom Blackish that illustrates this further. A dad is late to work because he helps out at his kids' school. He gets praise and a pass. A mom is just a bit later, explains that her kid is sick and it took her forever to get out of the house. She gets the stinkeye.

Now that I'm a mother I see this play out. There have been several times that I've been with Dash all day and stopped by to see Eric at work. He lovingly gives her a cuddle, maybe helps out with something and we part ways. Just about every time, someone will tell what a good dad he is. (He IS a fantastic dad.) I can't think of once in those instances that someone has told me I'm a good mom.

"Mother o' Mine" by Nick Kenrick via Flickr

There's a few issues here.

1) Expectations on women.
I'm not just "doing my job" by looking after Dash. I've made a choice to be her mom and it's often quite difficult. The skill set required is not somehow ingrained in my maternal DNA. The daily steps involved in keeping a tiny human alive and entertained do not happen because I have to be a mom. I'm not performing a role, I'm in a relationship with my child.

2) Expectations on men.
It makes me sad when folks have such low expectations of men as fathers. At least in my circles, dads are quite involved and those that aren't are considered jerks. Are people really that surprised when fathers are happy to see their children or consider nappy changes part of their responsibilities?

3) Affirmation goes a long way.
I'm not fishing for compliments and I get a lot of encouragement - my husband, parents, sister and close friends tell me I'm a good mom often enough. But I told a new mother recently that she's a good mom and she nearly cried. Would it hurt to tell both parents they are a good parent? Being a parent is hard and amazing and a little validation goes a long way.

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