I am a Good Mom No Matter My Parenting Style

Laughing baby sitting in high chair while eating baby food

I think I’m a good Mom. Really, I do.

At the end of the day, when my brain has sorted through all my worries about when to take the binky away, if Cyan has had too much Ibuprofen in this lifetime, and if I could have done something different to prevent Senna from dying, I am able to nestle into my husband’s shoulder and know I’m a good Mom.

Not good enough. Not okay. But a truly good mom.

Mother holding baby while father smiles

The truth about parenting support groups:

No matter our intentions, it’s really hard for parents to support each other.

I’ll never forget the time a new-ish parent came to our play group and asked me, with her tired eyes and overwhelmed face, if it “ever gets better” in the context of her talking about how frequently her 7 month old wakes up. When I explained it got better for me when I put a lot of effort and emotional energy into sleep training Cyan, she immediately became defensive and started to list off a lot of misconceptions about sleep training. I was hurting my child, babies who cry are suffering, she couldn’t possibly do that to her child, etc etc.

Damnit.

A sense of dread washed over me because this person I thought was a potential friend was suddenly on the defensive, directly attacking me because of a response I gave to a question she asked me. Sadly, she never came back to play group even though myself and every other person around me tried to steer the conversation elsewhere. I try to not address such topics anymore. I avoid them like the plague. I don’t want my confidence in my choices to contribute to the insecurities other parents are grappling with.

How Do We Keep Our Own Sense of Confidence in Motherhood and Respect Other Mothers’ Parenting Styles?

In the age of the internet and Facebook mommy groups [Read Danielle’s take on the problems with online mom groups here] spreading confusing misinformation and feel-good pseudoscience under the guise of “support,” thinking and knowing you’re a good mom is a radical thing. It feels like everywhere I turn, I see subtle messages telling parents what they’re doing wrong and how they could be doing things better.

In the rare event that I see a message related to parental contentment, it’s normally accompanied by some sort of “well, I might not be great, but I’m good enough, and we will pay for the therapy later” sentiment. While I kind of chuckle at these things because they are relatable, I also find myself fighting off feelings of discomfort.

In all of the efforts to show the “realness” of life on social media, I’m afraid we are also losing authenticity. The old cliche “boys don’t like smart girls” of our childhood is being carried into our adult lives, except this time it’s “other moms don’t like smart/content/confident moms.”

I refuse to feel mom guilt.

As I write this, I worry that my words will come off as shame-y or toxic. I have an overwhelming urge to pull out self-disparaging statements for the sake of being relatable and friendly. I feel like, by making the statement that other moms don’t like confident moms, I’m putting myself on the outs of current “mom culture” and making myself an easy target for being labeled full of myself or overly-confident.

But this is my truth. And if it’s my truth, it has to be someone else’s truth too. Besides, aren’t we all getting tired of having to tear ourselves down in order to build others up? How about we all just acknowledge that we are good moms, and even if other mothers don’t parent like we do, that they are, too?

Why it’s difficult to feel like a good mom:

The current political, scientific, and social climates are hard to navigate. If you’re not on one side, you’re on the other. If you’re not taking a side, you’re contributing to the problem. If a parent has differing views than you, this is often taken personally–as if the way they live their life and raise their children is a direct attack on your efforts.

Whenever I meet a new parent, I dread answering the questions they always ask: do you breastfeed, does your baby sleep through the night, are you already filling out their application for Harvard (okay, that one was a joke… kinda).

Your answers to these questions let other parents know if you’re on their side or the other side, which to them is the wrong side. This is exactly what happened with the mom who came to play group and became defensive about our different perspectives on sleep training. Instead of parenting choices being made out to be the balancing act they are, they’re being confused with morality.

I’m not buying into any of it, and you don’t need to either.

Mother, father, and baby look out a window

It’s okay to parent your own way.

While I think I’m a good parent, I also think people who approach parenting (and life in general) differently than I do are capable of being good parents, too. I don’t take it personally when I find out someone takes a different approach than me.

Given the opportunity, I might share my reasons behind why I make the choices I do, but I try to keep my mouth closed unless otherwise provoked. Whether or not we leave the conversation in agreement has no bearing on my own identity as a parent and does not impact my relationship with my children.

I know I’m the odd one out in this… we still need to do work to lift one another up but WITHOUT putting ourselves down in the process. You can be confident in your own parenting practices and not tear down someone else’s.

How to be a good mom, on my own terms:

I own my faults & give myself grace (plus, I try to actively navigate around these faults).

I don’t let my initial guilt turn into shame.

I’m open to changing my behaviors.

I recognize my privilege.

I know I don’t need to fix everything — I don’t WANT to fix everything.

I had a good Mom, and she taught me to be better than her.

Last but not least, I openly acknowledge that parenting styles differ. While I can be confident in my own parenting style, so can you.

Mother with baby and toddler

Hannah Aubut is an expatriate who followed her heart (and head) to Montreal. She’s a lover of iced coffee in January, the scientific method, freshly mopped floors, and bulky sweaters.

In 2016, she was told that her full-term daughter had died while still nestled in her womb. She gave birth to Senna at 41 weeks gestation. 10 months later, she gave birth a second time, to Cyan. Her experience as a loss mother, a PPD survivor, and an advocate for mental health and social justice has led her to be an aspiring social worker and hobby writer.

She’s your typical token “mom friend” who makes the best banana bread you’ve ever had, cries alone in the shower, and believes true happiness starts at home. Contact her for collaboration or just to chat at hannahaubut@gmail.com.

And be sure to check out her amazing work with Ann Hughes at the Infant Loss Photography Project.

2 thoughts on “I am a Good Mom No Matter My Parenting Style

  1. Oh my heart… I feel so blessed to know Hannah. She is an amazing and beautiful person, and I KNOW that even when she and I don’t parent the same way, she still loves me and I still love her. That really is the kind of friend – mom or not – that I want to have. Thanks Katy for sharing this on your blog.

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