How to be a Good Mom

posted in Best of Shakespeare's Mom, Childhood, Life Lessons, Motherhood on by with 24 Replies

Sarah’s mom had a sauna.  It stood in the backyard of her house, high on a windy hill.  We would change into our bathing suits in the house and then run, squealing, clompy boots flapping, through the snow to get to the steamy little oasis.  Sometimes Sarah’s mom would join us, and she had no qualms about changing into her bathing suit in front of us.  She taught me about body confidence and the healing power of steam in the middle of a Maine winter.  She made me crepes with maple syrup, and never seemed to mind having me around in her house, in her yard, in her life.

Becca’s mom let Becca eat junk food.  All the time.  We would have Happy Meals for dinner and brownies for breakfast.  I thought it was heaven.  Becca was allowed to watch more TV than I was, but her mom also read to us.  She would read old stories about stern little animals before we snuggled into our sleeping bags for the night.  She happily brought me along with them when they went places, too, including once to a friend’s pool where she jumped in, fully clothed, to save me from drowning when I got over-confident in the deep end.  She kept a bag of gumdrops and a pile of romance novels by her bed.  She taught me about kindness, letting go of the little things, and laughing out loud.

Mike’s mom was an artist, with a room full of canvases – nudes, sketches, splashes of color – in her old farmhouse.  She helped us make posters to raise awareness about the rain forests.  Mike and I marched in the fourth of July parade with our handmade posters that year, and she cheered us on.  She gardened and made her own bread and listened to NPR.

Ellie’s mom’s kitchen was usually filled with things like skim milk, Special K, and broccoli, but on weekend mornings she’d let us mound whipped cream from a can on top of our bowls of cereal.  She gave us old bras and scarves and eyeshadow to use for dress-up, and left us to our own devices to make up ridiculous games and share our deepest secrets.

My own mom always made us homemade things – chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, and banana bread.  She let me host gaggles of girls for sleepovers at our house, and drove my friends and me back and forth countless times.  My mom always made our house feel the coziest; it was homey, bright and clean, but not too clean.  She taught me about giving and sharing and cooking and loving.

Here she is making whipped cream for strawberry shortcake with a little helper

Here she is making whipped cream for strawberry shortcake with a little helper

And the amazing thing about spending so much time in and out of friends’ houses as a kid, is that every one of these women who fed me and took care of me like one of her own had something to teach me about being a good mom.

You can be divorced, and be a good mom.

You can work full-time, and be a good mom.

You can have a tasteful home that’s tidy and scrubbed, or you can have piles of laundry on the floor and dirty dishes on the counter.

You can bake a homemade birthday cake with almond flour and honey, or you can let the grocery store take care of it with bright blue frosting and explosions of sprinkles.

You can play with your kids a lot, or give them space to do their own thing.

You can let them see you in your birthday suit, or you can keep your spots and lumps under wraps.

You can read to them, and swim with them, or paint with them, and laugh with them.

You can take them on exciting trips, or let them create their own excitement in your backyard.

All you have to do is be yourself.  Love them your way.  And that’s how to be a good mom.



Note:  I changed my childhood friends’ names here because, you know, privacy.

  • Erin Demshar

    Awww…I love this one Kate! You are a great mom, as are all of the mommy friends I know! It’s fun to share the mom moments with you and to also remember great memories with the moms we knew growing up.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Oh, thank you so much, Erin! I’m so glad to have you as a friend.

  • This is heartwarming! It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other moms and feel lacking. You’re right, we all have things we excel at and areas we aren’t so great. Thanks for the reminder to be ourselves!

    • ShakespearesMom

      I’m glad you could relate! I feel like I need to remind myself that my children can learn so much from other people. The responsibility doesn’t have to fall entirely on the shoulders of my husband and me.

  • Bonnie

    I love this! It makes sense there isn’t one flavor of Good Mom, because we and our kids all have our own personalities, interests, needs, strengths, weaknesses, everything.

    • ShakespearesMom

      I’m glad you liked it! And yeah – we can’t all be good at everything, so we might as well focus on our strengths! Thanks for reading!

  • LKD

    And now I’m in a puddle of tears. Happy tears. I love happy tears. Thanks for this essay. Badly needed balm for heart and soul and so beautifully written. I am so glad I bought Kleenex yesterday.

    • ShakespearesMom

      I’m so glad this spoke to you. Hang in there, mama – it’s certainly not easy, but at least we know we’re not alone!

  • Lovely reminder, Kate! I have such memories too, of friends’ moms who taught me a thing or two about life.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thanks for reading! I really am fortunate to have known so many great moms in my life.

  • Meredith

    Beautiful post Kate! So true. I have such a special place in my heart for my friends’ mothers growing up, and I hope that my kid’s friends (and more importantly my OWN kids) will always think so fondly of the positive, good things I did. 🙂 Loved this one.

    • ShakespearesMom

      I hope so too! And I love the idea that my kids can be “mothered” by other moms who do it differently than I do.

  • Elizabeth Catalano

    Great post. And so true.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you!

  • Love this post. So very true and so very well said!

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you! Glad you liked it!

  • Nicola Young

    That’s a great way of looking at motherhood. What a lovely post.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thank you so much!

  • This actually made me cry.
    DANG IT.
    Kidding. These are such lovely, wonderful, TRUE life memories. These moms are amazing. And you were (are) a pretty special kid to have taken away the best of these experiences. Focusing on the positive, the best parts, the “new” things. I hope all our children can do that. That’s the dream. The Mom dream. (and I hope they never remember the details about my changing in front of them!) ha.

    • ShakespearesMom

      Sorry, Joy! What made me cry when I was writing this is that both Mike’s mom and Becca’s mom have since lost their lives to cancer. And I’m sure they never had any idea that I was learning so much from them and that I have such fond memories of them. I mean I know that’s just how it is for moms – kids don’t necessarily tell you when they appreciate something – but they were great moms and I hope they knew that.

  • Hi Kate, I nominated you for the Sunshine Award on my blog today. You can read about it here. Thanks for being a blogging inspiration to me. I always enjoy your posts and think you’ve got a great sense of humor! 🙂

    • ShakespearesMom

      Oh wow, thank you so much! I’ll check it out! I really enjoy your posts too – they’re always relatable (is that a word?) and encouraging!

  • I love love love this! What a wonderful way to acknowledge the vast differences among mothers while also highlighting that each one was special and yes, a “good mom.”

    • ShakespearesMom

      Thanks! I’m so glad you loved it!