Recently I saw a quote that said: "There is really no one way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good mother."
In reality there is no such thing as a "perfect" mother, just as there is no such thing as a "perfect" father or a "perfect" child.
A good mother makes mistakes but keeps on trying to do her best. A good mother loves her family, gets mad and forgives, enjoys her child's curiosity, has many sleepless nights, sets limits for her children and follows through even when it is not what she would really like to do.
A good mother reads to her child, delights in her child's successes, comforts the child at times of disappointments, and may not always like her child but always loves her child.
The other day I asked some of the mothers that come to my support group what they liked the most about being a mother. Several of the mothers talked about how they were in awe of how their baby was growing and developing.
They felt that they were witnessing a daily miracle when they looked at their baby. They were touched by the fact that they were number one in their baby's life. They enjoy how when their baby hears their voice, the baby becomes more alert and looks around for them.
One mother said she is thrilled with herself because her baby is 6 months old and is thriving under her care.
There was discussion about how when you become a mother you look at other people differently. They felt more tolerant of others. Overwhelmingly they were happy with being mothers and enjoyed the responsibility of being a mother.
Some of the myths that had been debunked about motherhood were that motherhood was boring and you could "sleep in" during maternity leave. They found that they had no extra time. They were thrilled when they were able to take a shower and do the laundry in the same day.
They talked about learning how to be more flexible. They found themselves treasuring the present time more, realizing that their babies will not be babies forever. They talked about how being a mother is the hardest and most demanding of any job they had ever done before. They said you have to be smart and be "on" all of the time.
They had come to appreciate the wisdom in the poem:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For babies grow up we have learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, dust, go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
-- Author unknown
I love being a mother and working with mothers. Mothers are generous givers of love to their children and to each other.
Thank you to all of the mothers that have allowed me to be part of your life as you learned about mothering.
Thank you to my own children for putting up with me as I grew into my role as your mother.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.