Good Moms.

posted in: Day In The Life, Family, Paean 1
Marianne and Mary, c. 1981. Photo: My dad.
Me n’ Marianne, Christmas, c. 1981. Photo: My dad.

When I sat down to write this Mother’s Day post, I started it: “I’ve got a good mom.” But what you’re reading now is a second draft.

Around the third paragraph, somewhere between detailing my Mom’s incredible bring-home-the-bacon-fry-it-in-the-pan-single-mom sacrifices and all 627 of her current projects, I decided that though I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have a “good mom,” saying that I have a “good mom” implies that there are not-so-good ones, as well as downright dastardly moms and worse than that.

Before I head into the terrifying wilderness of moral relativism, I want to say that there are bad people who are bad, full stop. If you hurt someone who can’t defend himself or herself, and if you do that on purpose, more than once, that’s bad, and we can stand in judgement of the perpetrator and say, “You cannot do this. This — and you, by extension, sir/madam — are bad.”  Since there’s nothing keeping anyone from having children, if a kid’s got a for-real bad female for a parent, it follows that a person can definitely have “a bad mom.”

But apart from these depressing exceptions, I’d like to suggest there are no “bad moms” in the delivery room. Rare is the woman who holds her 30-second-year-old on her breast and feels anything but wonder, pride, good intentions, love. Things kick off that way and then they go on from there. Sometimes they go pretty good. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes, not so much at all.

Now, I’ve never made a mistake in my life, of course. All the decisions I’ve ever made have been perfectly-timed and dead-on. I’m constantly delighted by my 100% rightness in every situation; I regret nothing. The plans I lay, they are carried out precisely as I intended from a place of clarity and wisdom. Nothing bothers me. I don’t lose my temper. I love everyone for who they are because I realize holding people to my high expectations is absurd. I laugh at life’s troubles and I have unwavering grace and tact in all my personal and professional relationships.

But I’ve heard there are people who make mistakes — and I have heard that people who are mothers were people first. Contrary to fabric softener commercials and stories about “the good old days,” a woman does necessarily not become a flawless caregiver the instant she gives birth. It’s more likely that she is essentially the same person she was before she had a baby, except now the whole world has changed, which would shake anyone up.

My point is: Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms: good, less-good, and otherwise. It’s a heckuva job, from what I can tell. I’m not a mom, but I could be someday* and I know I will need plenty of grace; this is a Mother’s Day card to the moms out there who need some today.

*Big Mother’s Day ups to Gramma Graham, my mother’s mother; she had my mom and Mom’s twin brother David at age forty, and that was back in the early ’50s. Dorothy was a cougar! That’s hot, Gramma. I’m thirty-six.



  1. […] talk to my incredible mom frequently, but she does learn certain things about me via this blog. After all, I blog about five […]

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