The Secret to Being a Good Mom

The Secret to Being a Good Mom

One mom learns to navigate parenthood, despite the absence of a handbook.

By: Lorraine Allen

There is really no book to teach parenting, no manual that comes with childbirth and swaddle blankets when you check out of the hospital with a newborn in your arms and no clue what to do next. I tried to prepare myself as best I could. I dragged my husband to parenting classes where we held baby dolls and learned to wrap them tightly, without choking them. We learned why burping is important and that there are at least six ways to do this. We learned CPR. I reread all my grad school literature, shelves of it, on emotional and cognitive childhood development.

We even hired a postpartum doula to come over and help us care for our new baby a couple of times a week for the first month or two. And she was amazing. She helped us with our baby’s first bath, got us creams to treat those early rashes, changed a million diapers, and helped me learn to nurse properly and prepare bottles quickly. She even encouraged me to make a weekly "mom activity schedule" to make sure I was not too overwhelmed and still took care of myself.

But as soon as she left and I no longer had someone to ask questions, I found myself endlessly questioning my ability to parent – and nowhere to find all the answers. When my baby napped and then later started school, I spent each free moment researching the best solution to every fever and each tantrum and allergy. Motherhood was hard. I knew it would be, only I kept looking for a formula to make it easier or some sign so I would know I was getting it somewhat right. But of course, I only found more questions most of the time.


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It took a few years of harried self-doubt, but eventually, thanks to a friend's wise words, I stopped searching for all the right answers on how to be a good mom and realized that I was already doing it. I had been since the start! I was a mom, a “good enough” mom, even if not an expert. I was good at caring for my child, and I was learning on the fly how to read her cues better than any other person or book could teach me, simply by being there for her. I realized then that being a mom also means learning to believe in yourself and to trust your instincts as much as any book or expert. And trusting that when you are doing the best you can to care for your kids, you are doing it right. That’s all there is to it. There is no simpler formula or better way to parent. There is no expert book because all it would say, in the end, would be “just do your best and be there for your child.”

What helped you as you learned how to parent?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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