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A Definitive List of What Makes a Good Mom

“You’re a good mom.”

It's the phrase that so many of us mothers want to hear. Yet it also often evokes idealized visions of motherhood: visions that don't exist in the real world.

Mothers with endless patience. Mothers who have fulfilling careers and enough time in the day to clean, cook and make crafts that reflect their keen design sensibility. Mothers who are perfectly organized. Mothers who make all the right medical, school and parenting-style choices for their children. Mothers who volunteer for all the right programs and events in their children’s lives. Mothers who have polite, endearing and talented kids. Mothers who are gorgeous, fit and radiantly happy. Mothers who have completely satisfying sex lives and active social lives.

RELATED: Millennial Moms Reject Good Parenting

Mothers who have that elusive “all.”

These conceptions of motherhood are so Pinterest-board perfect that we mere mortal moms can only fail when it comes to meeting all their impossible standards.

In my head, I know all of this. But in my heart, I sometimes yearn to hear that I’m a “good mom.” I hate to admit it. I wish that I could help it. But I can’t.

“You’re a good mom.” That’s all I want to hear.

Thus, if I cannot completely dismantle the notion of good motherhood, perhaps I—and all of us—can disentangle this notion from any and all strains of perfectionism. Because there are a million ways to be a good mom and none of them involve being perfect.

So how might a person be a good mom?

Good moms can hate every second of their agonizing pregnancies.

Good moms can feel like pregnant goddesses for an entire nine months and wish that they could be pregnant forever.

Good moms can feel indifferent about the whole pregnancy experience.

Good moms can choose the maternity care providers and birth settings that are right for them.

Good moms can have regrets over how and with whom they gave birth.

Good moms can have vaginal births. Cesarean sections. VBACs. Repeat c-sections. Home births. Hospital births. Births with doctors or midwives. Unmedicated births. Epidural births.

Good moms can breastfeed, formula-feed, or combo-feed.

Good moms can meet all of their baby-feeding goals. Or some of them. Even none of them.

Good moms can persevere through breastfeeding adversities. They can choose formula with some hesitation. They can celebrate their decision to feed their babies formula right from the very beginning.

Good moms can deflect criticism from people who judge them for formula-feeding.

Good moms can deflect criticism from people who judge them for breastfeeding in public.

Good moms can feel scared about the criticism they face and have no idea how to respond to it.

Good moms can struggle with postpartum mood disorders.

Good moms can survive.

Good moms can find that it seems impossible to survive.

Good moms can support other moms on this rugged path of survival.

Good moms can have the right work/life balance for them, even if only for a moment.
Good moms can never quite manage to grasp that balance, no matter how hard they try to achieve it.

Good moms can raise their kids just like their parents raised them.

Good moms can choose to parent differently than their parents did.

Good moms can work outside the home without any regret whatsoever.

Good moms can work outside the home and wish desperately that they could stay home, if only it weren’t for all the bills their family needed to pay.

Good moms can stay home with their children and savor (most) every craft-making, game-playing, book-reading moment.

Good moms can stay home with their children and feel exasperated by their children’s constant requests and needs.

Good moms can have the right work/life balance for them, even if only for a moment.

Good moms can never quite manage to grasp that balance, no matter how hard they try to achieve it.

Good moms can find the parenting style that works well for them and their families.

Good moms can change their minds.

Good moms can be as crunchy as granola.

Good moms can be as crunchy as a fast food french fry.

Good moms can secretly (or not-so-secretly) loathe the baby stage. The toddler stage. The preschool stage and the elementary school stage. The pre-teen years. The teenage years.

Good moms can be patient. Or impatient.
Good moms can be wise. Or immature.
Good moms can be put-together. Or falling apart.

Good moms can adore any or all of these stages and wish that their children could be in one particular stage forever.

Good moms can cry when their child says, “I hate you.”

Good moms can say, “Well, I love you, and I don’t like you that much right now either.”

Good moms can say the wrong thing.

Good moms can know just the right thing to say to their children.

Good moms can read that same board book for the 251st time, even if all they really want to do is curl up with a cup of coffee and read some trashy gossip magazine.

Good moms can curl up with a cup of coffee and a magazine and take a few moments for themselves.

Good moms can bake and decorate from-scratch cakes for their children’s birthdays.

Good moms can pick up a store-bought cake two minutes before the birthday celebration.

Good moms can have loving relationships with their partner.

Good moms can choose to leave partners who aren’t so loving.

Good moms can work with partners and decide to stay together, or not.

Good moms can have no partners at all.

Good moms can know how to ask for help.

Good moms can hate asking for help and have no idea how to find or cultivate the “village” that people are always talking about.

Good moms can be patient. Or impatient.

Good moms can be wise. Or immature.

Good moms can be put-together. Or falling apart.

Good moms can be honest about how hard this whole parenting thing is.

RELATED: Forget Work-Life Balance: It Does Not Exist

Good moms can lie to themselves and to others, just a little bit, because honesty about parenting is sometimes hard and frightening.

Good moms can feel 5,000 ways about motherhood, all in a single day. Or hour.

Good moms love. They all can, and do, love.

Good moms can be just like you. Like me. Like all of us.

And we all need to hear that.

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