Sometimes it takes a bad mother to be a good mother

Twenty years ago when I began this journey through motherhood. I was filled with high ideals.
I would be a great mum.I had watched my own mum in action,and I was very sure,
I would not be at all like her.

I would always be understanding.
When my child was home late I would listen before ranting.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kryten/125710155/">Robert Whitehead</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
I would not judge my childrens friends, by the clothes they wore or their attitude.
If my child had difficulty with an exam and did poorly, I would not over react.
There would be no real need for major punishment.
If my child says “My teacher hates me”, I would believe them and be sympathetic.
My child and I would be friends.

As I listen to newer mothers, I remember those days of mothering young children.
Days when I adored and I was adored.
When I had hopes and dreams, and visions of my families future.
I could pick up a tantrum fueled two year old, and remove them from public view.

However eventually the day comes, when the tantrums continue,
but you can no longer just pick the child up.
New skills are required.

Those children who loved us dearly, all, without exception, grow into teenagers.
Experience has taught me, and changed me.

My mothering has changed.
The more my children say, “You’re so mean”, the better the job of mothering I am doing.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashleyrosex/2809506829/">ashley rose,</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
If my child is late, I am on the alert.
If my child is enjoying time with questionable friends, I am on high alert.
If my child says “honestly mum, I’m telling the truth”, I say to myself “Maybe, maybe not!”

So even though they think I do not understand them,
I do in fact understand my children very well.
I love them unconditionally…. but do not trust them unquestionably.
I listen carefully to them…so I can hear all they are not telling me.
I am their mother….not their best friend.

I have learned that all children need boundaries.
My childrens job is to push those boundaries, and mine is to hold them firm.

So overall I wear my “You’re so mean mom” badge with pride.
It tells me I’m doing something right,
because sometimes it takes a “bad” mother to be a “good” mother.

photo credit: Robert Whitehead via photopin cc
photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc


30 thoughts on “Sometimes it takes a bad mother to be a good mother

  1. More parents today need to be parents and not their children’s BFF. That will hopefully come later when they are adults. Being a mum is not a popularity contest. Nice post.

        1. That’s a compliment every mother hopes they hear from their children! That, and I’m sorry for all the stuff I put you through.

  2. AMEN Tric! My kids used to scream at me “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE MY FRIEND!?!?!?!” And I would tell them anyone can be their friend, I am the only one who can be their mother.

    Interesting brain waves working. I just wrote a post tonight about making my children cry, and the affect it has on me NOW. And the suggestions to my children now parents. But it won’t post for a couple of days. Must have been something on the wind! 😉

  3. Well said, Tric. I’m glad I’m not the only mean cow of a mother – “everybody else’s parents” are their kids’ best friends, apparently. Never met them though, strange. Funnily enough, although we mums are intolerant and demanding, our kids still come to us to help solve their problems and wipe away the tears, so we can’t be getting everything wrong, hey?

    1. Yes they are stuck with us. You are right though a lot of the “everyones mom is letting them go” do not actually exist. If you ask me they are lucky to have us!

  4. Really good post. I should copy this and file it away to be read in 10 years time. I find myself wishing that parenthood could get easier, but the more I read, and the more I listen, the more I realise that it doesn’t get easier or harder. It’s just different challenges. And different beauty.

    1. It is at times a very difficult journey but most of the time great fun. The thing I have learned is that the world my fourth child lives in bears no resemblance to my eldest child. It is relaxed and fun and with way less rules. And the result is probably our happiest and best behaved of all our children.

  5. Thanks for this. Very timely advice for myself here. A little someone is going through a spell of challenging me and is also a little big to be picked up. New tactics are needed. I have become a little less popular recently and was beginning to worry would it ever end. Your advice has reassured me I’m doing the right thing. :0)

    1. We have always parented using positive affirmation, ie stars and rewards. It is so effective. It takes the emphasis off the things they are doing wrong and back to the behaviour you want to encourage. Best of luck.

  6. So true! I remember a woman I knew telling me how she was her daughters best friend… I thought it was the saddest thing ever. I feel you do your children a disservice by being their “best friend”. I’m sure I’d win the meanest mother badge hands down!!!!

    1. Stand in the queue Emily. I’m years ahead of you. Although I think my eldest and I, after 22 years can say we get on great. However I am still proud to be her mom, not her friend.

  7. I can thoroughly remember saying the same things to my teenage self. And now I find myself replaying those inner conversations every time I raise my voice to the three older C’s. Thank you for this post mamma.. and PS- so much love and light to your dear friend.

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