You Are a Good Mother

I had to re-post today’s Good Mother post up at The Good Mother Myth site. So, so wonderful:

You are a good mother

Not because you did something in particular. Not because you earned your “goodness” badge today. Not because you over-achieved or slowed your life down in just the right way to be the perfect parent that’s advertised in the glossy magazines. Not because you read the right books, made the right sacrifices or quite frankly, didn’t have time to read the books, in fact, didn’t give a damn about the books and had to sacrifice, cause that’s just the way it is. Not because of anything that you do… even though motherhood is a whole bunch of things that we “do.” That’s not what makes you the good mother that you are. You are not a good mother because of what you do. You are a good mother because, quite frankly, you just are.

You and I both know, that you have always done the very best as a mother that you could do, given your circumstances and resources, given your past experiences and hurts, given your struggles — both the ones that you have on the inside and the ones forced on you by the outside world. So many of the difficulties and challenges that you face as a mother have never been your fault and you have protected your child from as much of that as has been humanly possible for you to do. In fact, you’ve even done your best to protect your child from you, when you know you haven’t been at your best. You and I both know that you have always loved your child the best you could, that you would do anything that you could figure out to do for him or her.

So what is a good mother? A good mother is you. It’s time to face facts, to forgive yourself, to throw away the ridiculous, impossible motherhood “to do” list and sit back and realize you did it. I know it seems like a long time ago now, but there was a time before you were a mother. There was a day when not only was your baby born, but a mother was born as well. That was not always an easy or elegant transition. You did not always know what you were doing and made mistakes alone the way. You have never had such an intense learning curve, under the most challenging circumstances. But no matter what, you are the perfect person, in fact the only person, to be your child’s mother. You are good. Not because of what you do. But just because you are. It’s time to accept that. It’s time to let go of the comparisons, the self-criticisms, the worries, the fears. Your love is good. It’s not only good, it’s good enough. It’s time to forgive yourself, to let go of unrealistic expectations, and settle into the reality that you did it. You made it. You are good. Your love is good.

You are enough.

Annette & Liz of MotherWoman

Annette & Liz of MotherWoman

Liz Friedman is the Program Director and Founder of the Postpartum Support Initiative for MotherWoman. Through the Postpartum Support Initiative, Liz has led the Western Massachusetts Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalition which is committed to creating a comprehensive safety net for all mothers experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, perinatal emotional complications.

MotherWoman is an organization that supports and empowers mothers to create personal and social change by building community safety nets, impacting family policy and promoting the leadership and resilience of mothers.

You can help support MotherWoman *today* by donating via Valley Gives. Even the smallest amount helps support mothers, families and their communities!

No More #Fakebook – A Chat With Sarah Tuttle-Singer

A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah wrote a post for Kveller.com that quickly went viral. Her post, Why We Need to Quit Telling Lies on Facebook is equal parts hilarious and thought provoking and most importantly, oh-so-real. Sarah, who is one of the contributors to my upcoming book, sat down with me for a chat about her post where we talked about Facebook/Fakebook, being “Pinterest perfect” and the importance of having our real selves represented. 
Avital: So I have to ask – what prompted you to write your #NoMoreFakebook post?

Sarah: Jordana Horn wrote an interesting post on Kveller.  She’s a talented writer with an interesting take on parenting and on life in general, and normally I find myself agreeing with her. But not this time. I understood her point, but I felt this ‘kvetch’ in my stomach, and I commented: Yes, it IS cool to brag about your kids. Or your job. Or your hooker boots. But maybe – just maybe – more of us should try to keep it real on Facebook, too. Just like Hollywood can mess with our heads about “true love,” Facebook can do a number on our self-esteem as parents. (Methinks I have a blogpost for Kveller.com :) ).

And there it was.

I had no idea what to do with the idea until I realized I was living the post.”Write about what you know,” people say – and that’s what I try to do. I write about being an expat in Israel. I write about divorce and fringe parenting (I was a noncustodial mother for a while.) I write about the things I’ve lived – the ugly and the exquisite. And so, after surviving another Saturday with my kids, I realized that THERE was the premise.

Avital: Yeah, I remember you asking for “lies” we tell on Facebook.

Sarah: YES. I crowd sourced. I love crowdsourcing. I love writing WITH an audience – not just for an audience. In fact, when I write, I usually write with a friend — someone who I send the post to as I go along. That person becomes my muse.

Avital: Well, it certainly worked with this post. It resonated with a TON of people!

Sarah: I’m thrilled by the reaction.

Avital: Why do you think people connected to it so fiercely?

Sarah: I think a few things worked for this post:

1. we are all the imperfect parents of imperfect children.
2. anyone who says they LOOOOOOVE being with their kids 24/7 is either lying or had a labotomy
3. I framed the post around my experience — my fuckups.

Avital: Yeah, there was definitely a feeling of – been there, done that. At least one my end as a reader. We need way more of that for sure.

Sarah: Actually, that’s why Im surprised by the tremendous reaction: I figured people would read this and think to themselves “yeah, been there done that. what’s her point?”

"Thursday. In varying degrees of joy and frustration" via Sarah's FB page

“Thursday. In varying degrees of joy and frustration” via Sarah’s FB page

Avital: We’re exposed to so much online – we’re all plugged in whether for work or pleasure or just because we don’t know what to do otherwise. So we’re bombarded with all these images – whether from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest of “perfection.” It can be overwhelming.

Sarah: Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. And I think envy is a totally natural response to it. Man, I wish I could rise about that, But when you find yourself wanting to compete against perfection, it’s exhausting.

Avital: Totally exhausting. And it only feeds into the self-doubt and internal judgment that is already present for many of us. Or at least…present for me.

Sarah: Yup. It isn’t JUST the pictures of families, or the sweet status messages. It’s also the stuff people are posting – the “organic foods” articles (While my kids eat Doritos), or the articles about brain development and tv (while my kids watch a Simpsons DVD).

Avital: I’m trying to dig back to the dark ages – how did people do this before the internet?

Sarah: PTA meetings. Brownie meetings. My mother HATED those.

Avital: Yeah, although at least with those – you could leave them for the most part when the event was over. Now, it feels like no escape unless you actively unplug (and who likes to do that? ha!)

Sarah: She and her close friend who lived on the other side of the country used to joke that they were the only ones who didn’t wax their legs. She kept it real – before “keeping it real” was a catchphrase. She’d show up to these meetings in a headscarf like a babushka, she never wore makeup, she didn’t give a good godamn. Well, at least i don’t think she did. She died before i could realize tha tmaybe she did care.

Avital: That’s the thing – we never know what sort of front folks are putting up. It sounds like your mother was incredibly genuine though, from everything you’ve shared about her.

Sarah: I’d like to think she was – from the grit under her nails from gardening, to her bare lashes.

Avital: But I do wonder what the tangible ramifications are of being exposed to all this “perfection” and trumped up ideal what is “good.”
I feel like that might be a perfect segue to another essay you wrote.

Sarah: we up the ante on ourselves.

#NoMoreFakebook via Sarah's FB

#NoMoreFakebook via Sarah’s FB

Avital: On my end – I got so fed up with all these supposed images of what the ideal good mother was that it made me want to scream and tear my hair out. Instead, I decided to write a book(I happen to like my hair). The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be more powerful to include stories from many women – all sharing their stories in hopes of breaking down this “good mother myth.” Sort of like your #NoMoreFakebook crusade

Sarah: I think we have a new hashtag, mama: #goodmothermyth

Avital: Lets rip back the curtain and let our real selves shine through. As I was slugging through the whole book proposal process, one of the things that kept me going was the hope that somewhere, one day, a new mom would be in a bookstore and find this book and connect with one, two, or many of the essays within it. And then she would realize that she wasn’t alone. And that she’s good, dammit.

Sarah: yes!

Avital: Even if she doesn’t have a Pinterest perfect life.

Sarah: I love that line – “a pinterest perfect life.”

Avital: Thanks. I mean, I have a Pinterest account. I dig the concept as much as the next gal, but… I use it with a hefty dose of reality. It would also help if corporate media didn’t keep pushing this myth as well.

Sarah: …and freaking Hollywood.

Avital: Fueling the “mommy wars.” Just today somebody I know wrote a thoughtful analysis about Sheryl Sandberg and “leaning in” and the editors chose to run with a title that included “mommy wars” when it really didn’t have much to do with the premise. So frustrating.

Sarah: hate. it.

Avital: How do we overcome this? We need to raise up our voices. Reclaim the way our stories are being told.

Sarah: We have to use humor. What we don’t want to do is to sound like clamorous harridans (I’m misspelling something somewhere).

Avital: But I think sometimes the truth isn’t always funny.

Sarah: Because there are sweet moments of motherhood that should not be overlooked – but by sharing the rough stuff, we allow those moments to really sparkle.

Avital: And that’s okay too.

Sarah: Indeed.

Avital: Really, I would just love to see ownership and promotion of real stories of motherhood/parenting that are vehicles for (not so) subtle judgment or competition.

Sarah: But you know what might happen? We all might try to outdo eachother with keeping it real.

Avital: Oy.

Sarah: “Oh, you have a sink full of dirty dishes? Well, I’ll see you your dirty dishes and raise you a clogged toilet, biotch!”

Avital: Is there anyway to… not “win” necessarily, but just come out unscathed?

Sarah: i wonder if there’s something hardwired in our nature that makes this so. And no, not everyone is like that — but i’m seeing it already.

Avital: Did you see any reactions like that re: your #NoMoreFakebook post?

Sarah: Not yet.

Avital: I’m just glad that your post got the reaction it did. Makes me hopeful that others are fed up, like me, and ready to scream out their realities – regardless of whether they’re pretty or not.

Sarah: I’m hopeful, too – and I think that even off the walls this could lead to more meaningful friendships between people.

Avital: That would be lovely.

Sarah: Hey, we’re talking. We built a friendship online out of this premise – your book. What I mean is we nurtured a friendship that germinated from the premise of your book, The Good Mother Myth.

Sarah and I talked for a bit more after this, but this was the meat of it all. The big thing from – that I took from Sarah’s post and that propelled me to create the book, was this idea that we’re constantly being inundated by messages of “perfection” and what is “good.” It’s enough to drive anyone to an early grave. What about you? What’s your reality? How do you not cave to the various messages hurled at us on a daily basis?