Monday, May 26, 2008

Mothering styles.

I've had trouble lately being motivated to be a good mom (okay, let's be honest...not just lately, but for the past five or so years). There are just days when I wonder why. Why am I a mom? Why was I given this privilege, this gift? Why do I waste time when I could be pouring myself into my kids? I don't believe I'm good at mothering and sometimes I wonder not whether my mothering ability is impeding my kids' development, but how much it is. Don't get me's not like these feelings are because I have terrible self esteem. I realize that there are some things that I'm good at and some things that I enjoy (and a few things that I'm both good at and enjoy). Then there's parenting. If I do what I think I'm supposed to do to be a good mom, parenting wears me out and it stretches me too far. And it makes me feel like I'm trying to be somebody else. Someone I'm not.

So, when I was reading my friend Laura's blog and saw her post about this mothering quiz, I left the following comment on her blog: I'm sure when I take the test I'll be the "lazy mom who would rather comment on her friends' blogs than read to her kids." Ouch.

As it turns out, my prediction really wasn't that far off...depending on how you interpret the results. Here is what the mothering quiz has to say about my hands-off, observant, let-them-work-it-out-as-long-as-they-don't-kill-each-other mothering type:

Your type is "The Executive Mother"

“My mind is always going. How can I fine-tune the system to everyone’s advantage?”

  • Competent and confident in a management role, the executive mother organizes the needs and schedules of family members into a workable family system. Within the system, she provides her children with care-taking, direction, and limits, but she also gives them space to develop their own self-sufficiency and judgment.
  • Analytical and adept at problem-solving, the executive mother listens to her children’s concerns empathetically and then strategizes with them how to improve the situation—either by intervening on their behalf or backing off to let them solve problems on their own. She particularly enjoys watching them take responsibility and accomplish something they find important on their own.
  • Intense and insightful, the executive mother is cued in to her children’s intellectual and emotional development. She uses her quickness and communication skills to talk things through and help her children connect with people and better understand life.
Allow me to make a few comments on these results. First of all, I like how it says "she also gives them space to develop their own self-sufficiency and judgment." So, when I tell my five year old that I won't go pick up the lunch she forgot and take it back to school for her, I'm actually helping her to develop self-sufficiency, not just causing her to go hungry for an afternoon. That's good reassurance. I also like the part about how I organize their schedules into a workable family system -- this one hits the nail on the head. When Brynn was a baby, we couldn't have survived without her schedule. Apparently I was so insistent on following her schedule that when we left baby Brynn with some friends for a night while we moved from one apartment to another and Brynn woke up at 2am starving and screaming, our friends didn't offer her a bottle because they was afraid of screwing up Brynn's schedule. As you can imagine, our friends endured a long night of crying.

And this is a good one, too, that I "empathetically listen" to my children's concerns. That must be what I'm doing when one of my kids complains about not liking dinner and I say, "If you won't eat with us, go to your room until we're finished." Yeah, that's empathy if I've ever heard it.

On a great day, the quiz results are a good descriptor of me as a mom. Unfortunately, those good days seem not to happen as often as they should. Although it's easy for me to look at the description of the "Executive Mother" and pick apart all the ways that I fall short, there's an upside, too, and here it is: now that I can see what kind of mom I'm supposed to be, now that I have a definition of what kind of mother I am on a good day, I can strive to be the best mom that
I can be instead of trying to mother like somebody else. Because if I keep trying to mother like someone I'm not (I'm not naturally sweet, caring, or patient but that's the kind of mother I strive to be), then I'm going to fall short every time. But, if I try to mother like the best version of myself, I actually have a chance to succeed. That is the encouragement and the motivation that I need.


3boys247 said...

I really like how the quiz puts a positive spin on everyone. Mine could have said "contol freak" like my darling husband described me, but no, I am a How to Mom. You are an executive mom, I can see that.

I am glad you took the quiz and feel better about parenting, at least for tonight while the girls are asleep. smile.

By the way, Hayden informed us tonight that when he gets older he is going to marry Brynn and Callie's mom. So, you must be doing something right, Hayden loves you!

Dad said...

Since your kids are smart, well adjusted and full of love you must be doing more things right than wrong in the most important job ever which is being mom.

Hillary Dickman said...

After spending a few weeks with us this summer, you might not be so sure, Dad!! But, thanks for the compliments.