I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this topic over the past few years, and I know a lot of you listening have kids, so I’m bringing the discussion to the podcast this week.
Being a good mom was a hot topic of discussion at my recent retreat. Of course, we want to be the best parent we possibly can be. However, I see how being a good mom can actually work against us and even hinder our view of what’s best for our kids. This week, we’re diving into the idea of what it really means to be a good mom. Let’s see if any of this is showing up for you in your life.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 73.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my beautiful friends. It is so good to be with you today. I just got back from my first Epic You retreat yesterday and it was over the top amazing. If you haven’t seen my posts on social media about it, I have posted that I’ve seen these beautiful incredible women process their pain and let it go. I saw them have aha moments that lead to seeing themselves differently. And some became aware that they were following a belief system that wasn’t working for their life and it wasn’t even true.
This experience has been just so transformative not only for the ladies but even for myself. I mean many of the ladies in the room felt like this weight had just been lifted off of them. And it was beautiful to see them step into this new version of themselves. And it was just so wonderful to have this safe space that I created where the ladies can do this work and be truly seen and seen as their most powerful version of themselves. And seeing how these ladies just transformed and have these moments was so beautiful and it so up-leveled my skills.
Thank you ladies for coming, I just love you all so much. I have received a few requests to do this retreat again and I am considering hosting another one this fall so stay tuned.
Today’s topic is something that I have been giving a lot of thought to in my life for the past few years. And it really came to the surface for the women in the room at this retreat because they were talking about it. And so, as we delve into it I really wanted to share some of those moments and some of that discussion with you on the podcast today. Now, all of the women at the retreat in that room were moms.
And as we talked about our goals and where we wanted to get to, and who we wanted to be, and who we wanted to become I heard a lot about, I want to be a good mom. Or I have this hat that I wear which is the mom hat. That’s one of the roles I play in my life and I want to show up as a good mom. And just even out casually I hear this a lot, I just want to be a good mom, or I want to be a good mom. And we can use it against ourselves and say, “Oh, but I wasn’t a good mom in that situation”, or, “That’s not what a good mom would do and that’s what I did.”
I even see it on t-shirts, ‘good mom’, ‘great mom’. And of course, you see it on greeting cards around Mother’s Day, you’re such a good mom. You’re a great mom. So, I wanted to dive in and spend just a bit of time on what it means to be a good mom, really to consider what that means because I’ll just give you a spoiler alert. I don’t like the term at all, not one bit. And why? Because I think it misses the mark completely. So, when you look at the term ‘good’, what does that mean?
If you were to look it up in the dictionary what does good mean? It means to be approved of. So, keep that definition in your mind. It means to be approved of. So, who’s doing the approval? So, when you’re a good mom, your kid tells you you’re a good mom, you’re basically saying I approve of you. And when you approve of something that basically means you like it. So, before we go into the mom part, let’s look at we like good food, everybody could agree, we like good food. And by that we mean food that we approve of or food that we like.
We like a good husband. What is a good husband? A husband that we approve of, one that we like. Or we want to watch a good movie, what does that mean? A movie that we approve of, one that we like. Now, when we say we want to be a good mom, whose approval or whose liking are we seeking? And oftentimes it’s our kids. We want our kids to approve of us, to like us. Which means then we perform as a mom who will do things to get our kids to like us or to approve of us.
So, in order for us to be liked by our kids and for our kids to approve us we have to make decisions that they will like. And it’s also like saying, “Well, if they like that decision that means they will be happy. And I think that’s another key part of this, to be a good mom means you’re raising happy kids. Our kids need to be happy.
And in my point of view, that’s a horrible goal. Because if my daughter got to decide what she wanted for dinner, whether she took the protein and broccoli, or the desert, what is she going to like better? What is she going to approve of more? The dessert. So, does that mean I’m a good mom because I served dessert? She would say yes.
My daughter rather not go to bed at her bedtime. I’m in there nagging, “Get he heck to sleep.” And so, if she had to choose my decision, am I good mom in that moment making her go to bed on time? Not in her eyes. I would be a good mom, I would be more liked if she got to stay up past her bedtime. So, you see my point. If she’s the one that gets to decide if I’m the good mom, I need to do and make decisions based on pleasing her, based on making her happy.
And aiming to raise happy kids I think is a terrible goal, I really do because no human can be happy all the time, no human. Think about your week, are you happy all the time? Are you happy every single day that you go to work? Are there some days that are more challenging than others? Absolutely, but you still go to work. So, if we put the expectation on our kids to be happy all the time we’re sending them signals about how the world should work when it doesn’t work that way. You don’t even operate that way.
So, stop expecting your kids to be happy all the time and to get along with others all the time because do all the humans get along all the time? No, there’s disagreements, there’s arguments, there’s discord. That is a part of the human life, difficult conversations will be needed. They will need to know how to manage that. And telling them they should get along with their brother, or they should stop fighting when there’s going to be fighting and disagreements.
Yes, we don’t want them hitting each other but yet we should be not telling them that disagreements and fighting is not part of the human experience. And if we teach them to be happy all the time and to avoid arguments, or not to even approach them, they don’t grow up knowing how to handle the other half of the human experience when they don’t have good emotions and they are in arguments.
They become overwhelmed by their own emotions and they weren’t taught how to incorporate that. So, what do they do? They can’t talk. They can’t speak. They shut down. Their throat tightens and nothing comes out. And then you carry that on to adulthood. You don’t know how to handle disagreements. You don’t know how to handle arguments. You are a conflict avoider because you were never taught these skills in your youth. Or discord was something that was unsafe in your childhood.
So, I do not desire to be a good mom defined in this way, it’s really not my goal. My daughter doesn’t have to see me as a good mom. That’s not a measure of success as a mom in my opinion. Nor do I want to teach her that fighting with others is bad. Fighting in the sense of words, not in the sense of fists. Because arguing or disagreeing with other people is a part of life. Two people are free to have and share their opinions. So, I’m not going to teach my child that it’s wrong that somebody else thinks differently.
And if I tell her that fighting is wrong and then I go ahead and fight and disagree with my husband what goes through her mind? That why don’t I get to do it but yet mommy can. Or I haven’t taught her that it’s a part of life so now maybe she feels unsafe. She thinks, oh my gosh, something’s wrong, this isn’t supposed to be happening, mommy told me that fights shouldn’t happen. And then she grows up really confused, how to process this. How come she can’t make sense of the world?
Is she flawed because she’s hearing one thing and experiencing another and it’s not making sense to her intellectually so she thinks she’s just not smart enough to get how the world really works? And then can I really trust what mommy tells me in the future because she says one thing and she does another? So, if I’m raising her to be this happy child all the time, and I jump in to soothe her feelings of depression, or anxiety, or sadness whenever those come in.
And if I’m jumping in to save the day, guess what I’m teaching her? Teaching her those emotions aren’t welcomed, aren’t allowed and we need to do something about them. And I see some moms, they give ice-cream, they give food, they go out to lunch, they do all these things to try to cheer their children up. And then their children learn, if I’m sad I go out to eat, or I buy myself something, or I serve myself some ice-cream because I can’t manage my own emotions. I have to do that through a substance outside of me.
Now, I’m not saying if a child is clinically depressed not to do anything about it. And I’m also not saying that never go to lunch, and never use food, and never use treats. I’m just saying, think about what you are doing and what you’re communicating when you’re doing these things. Think about the message you’re sending to your child.
And let’s really think about if we do raise our kids to be happy all the time. And that’s the only thing that’s acceptable in this world is to be feeling good and happy all the time. Then we’re going to be raising some pretty entitled adults someday. If they’re expecting happiness all the time and they hit a rough patch of life, they’re going to think this is a problem, this shouldn’t be happening. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with my life?
And how can I escape this unhappiness, this sadness, this rough patch in my life? Well, here we go, here’s drugs, we can use alcohol, we can get drunk, we can eat a pint of ice-cream every night. Because that’s how I’m going to get happy because that’s the way I should be living. We can’t teach people that having these emotions that come over us are bad.
And if you think you need to be happy all the time and you have a rough day at work, what do you come home and do? You come home and think I had a rough day at work, let me get a reward. Let me pour myself a glass of wine at the end of the day. Let me have a beer. Let me take the edge off with some alcohol because I must do that to get happy. Because how I’m feeling right now, it’s not acceptable. And maybe this is hitting home for you right now.
Maybe that’s what you do on a daily basis. I know I sure did. That was just one part of the reason of pouring my chardonnay at night. Seeking more happiness because why not? You can. It’s your prerogative, you are an adult after all, you can do what you want. But I don’t think happiness is the destination. It’s part of the journey for sure.
But I don’t think it’s the destination because you just can’t arrive at happiness land but we certainly are sold that here on our TVs in America and through our commercials. Everybody’s happy on those commercials, whatever they’re doing they’re happy. And if they start the commercial off as not happy you know by the end of the commercial they’re going to be smiling, they’re going to be happy, there’s going to be something part of that commercial that makes them happy.
I mean just think about a Metamucil ad, there’s the 70 year old’s walking on the beach, hand-in-hand smiling at each other, perfect day. There’s no rain in the forecast, beautiful day outside. And if it is raining they’re running through the rain with their umbrella and having a grand old time. It’s not how many people experience rain my friends. And when I look at the world and I see 70 year old’s, or any human, they’re not just blissfully having a good time all the time.
Yes, there are moments of bliss. Yes, there are moments of happiness and do enjoy those to the fullest. But that is not 100% of the time. We are a mixed bag of emotions on a daily basis. That’s what we are, that is the truth of life. To sell a bill of goods to children any differently is just wrong because it’s not being happy all the time.
This reminds me actually of a story of one of the ladies at the retreat that she was sharing. She was sharing that it’s just so frustrating to go on vacation with her family. She plans it all, she puts all this work into it and then they go on vacation for the week and somebody’s complaining, somebody’s unhappy. And she’s like, “They’re unhappy and we’re on vacation.” And the nerve of those humans to be unhappy while you’ve planned this perfect vacation. I get it.
But think about what you’re asking, think about the bar you’ve set, seven days of endless smiles, and thank you’s, and giggles, and joy. I just don’t think that’s possible. Why do we set the bar so high? Because our brains will say, “We saw it on TV and that’s how it looks on TV. And our brains will also say, “Because that’s what I expected. That’s what I had planned in my head. That’s what I anticipated would happen, seven days of bliss.”
Because when we look at those cruise commercials they’re coming down slides and they’re having the grandest time and these meaningful deep conversations of laughter and joy over dinner. And then you have the Disney commercials that say, “It will be bliss and it’s the happiest place on Earth.” And that these people have perma-smile, they’re grinning ear to ear all day long, it’s perma-smile. Yeah, really? That’s not how my vacations go, ladies, it’s not perma-smile.
We took our daughter to Disneyland at the age of six and guess what? She didn’t like it. She complained the whole time. Everything took too long. “Why do we have to wait 50 minutes in line to get on a two minute ride? These characters that walk around, they’re so stupid. Who thinks they’re real? This is ridiculous.” This is a six year old. And yeah, the first hour, “This place sucks, can we go home? I’m not happy. This place is so dumb.” An hour and 10 minutes in, “Can we go home yet? Are we done yet? When are we going to be done? How much longer?”
And what did we do? We continued on. We let her complain. She kept complaining. We let her complain. We stood in more lines. And we left at dark. Did she come around? Yeah, a little. Did she like the place? No. But were we going to leave? No, not after paying those prices to get into the park. And we both took the day off of work because we went during the week so there would be less crowds. But I’ll tell you what, we haven’t been back since. It is certainly not her happiest place on Earth.
And you know what? That’s okay. It wasn’t the best time of our lives but we did it. Part of me in the back of my head I’m like, “Am I a bad mom?” She’s really not into princesses, she never had been. She got a princess for Christmas one year. She threw it across the room. It was clear, she’s not a princess girl. But yet on that day I secretly wanted her to be a princess girl. I wanted her to like this place that we took her to, that we spent so much money on, that we took time off to go to and she didn’t. She was human. She told us how she truly felt. She didn’t lie. She didn’t sugarcoat it.
And I wasn’t a bad mom. I did what I thought would be fun, which would be good for us as a family. So, I don’t like the term, ‘bad mom’, ‘good mom’. I just prefer to be a mom. I don’t need to be great. I don’t need to be good. I don’t need to be liked all the time. I don’t want an adjective that’s permanent because some days I’m a strict mom, some days I’m a mom in a bad mood. Some days I’m a mom who is fun. Some days I’m a mom who can’t mother because I am sick or I’ve got some other life stressor to take care of.
Some days I’m a mom who can’t manage her anger and she yells. Some days I’m a mom that looks at her and just cries because I have so much love for her. I turn into sappy mom. Some days I’m a mom who teaches her a lot. And some days I’m a mom who needs a break from her. Some days I’m a mom who doesn’t want to talk about mommy-hood. Can we just talk about something else besides our kids? When I go out with a girl friend can you ask me about me and not about my child? Can we just talk about me?
Some days I’m all in on being a mom and I nail it, some days I don’t. I’m a mom, that’s it. I lead with goals and expectations of myself in that role. And sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what makes me a mom. That’s who I desire to be, a mom. I’m leaving the good out of it, it’s subjective, it’s based on opinion. If it’s based on my opinion, great, I’ll call myself a good mom because that’s what I aspire to be.
And as a mom on my best days, I show up as one who cares and creates a safe space where we can talk about anything and we can talk about everything. We could talk about our day. We could talk about our events. We could talk about what I do for work. We could talk about school. We could talk about her soccer. We could talk about meals, and nutrition, and how to feed our bodies, and how to fuel our bodies. We could talk about her friends and my friends. We could talk about careers and jobs.
We could talk about college, and boys, and climate change, and civil rights, and World War 2, and Minecraft, and Roadblocks because that’s what she’s really into right now. That’s what being a mom looks like today and it will change over time and I welcome the change. I welcome other topics but those are the ones she’s into and the ones I’m into at the moment. Some days it’s a mess, most days it’s beautiful. I’ll tell you what, ladies, I don’t have a manual on how to be the best mom. I don’t even have a manual on how to be a good mom, none of us do.
I have my internal goals, my internal values and my internal compass. And what I really want to do is love her as her, not as the version of her I see for me, but as the version of her she wants to be. And I want to experience her essence. Her essence is different than mine. Her soul speaks differently than my soul. Her desires are different than mine. Her mind thinks differently than mine and that’s okay.
You know what’s beautiful? Right now she’s experiencing more anxiety and more fear than I am and maybe that’s because I’ve learned to suppress that part of me. Because maybe the world and the environment told me they didn’t want that for me and it wasn’t safe to express. But I want her to feel safe to express it, to look at it, to not be afraid of it, to let it come up. That’s the home environment I want to create because we can’t grow if we really aren’t seen. And we can’t grow if we don’t understand how we feel and why we feel the way we feel.
As a mom I love to create safety, to see my daughter as she is, and accept her as she is. It’s taken me a long time to get here. And that’s the space that I created for the ladies over at the retreat, to let them know they are safe, to be seen, to really be seen for all that they are, the things they like and the things they wish they can change. And that’s how growth, healing and transformation happens, when we’re okay to be seen and it’s safe. And we still know that we’re okay and that we’ll be loved, and that we are fully loved when we express both our pain and our power.
Ladies, we all have pain and we all have our power, every one of us. Embrace both, when you do you flourish. It’s not about perfection, it’s about being the best version you can be of you. And when you can’t be the best version, you own that part too. Model it for yourself, for your children, they need to see it, they need to see and understand it. Stop with the mixed signals and the mixed messages, it doesn’t help them, it doesn’t help you. Life is hard some days, let’s not gloss over it, but we can do hard things, we can persevere.
And the ones who can persevere the best live full out on their lives and they thrive because they don’t let unhappiness be a problem. They don’t let that stop them. So, my dear ladies, those of you who are moms, I see you. Be a mom, be the mom, all of it. And question for you, does being a good mom feel right to you? Does it feel good? If so, keep it. You know what feels really good to me? Being a mom, I can embrace all of it, the good, the not so good, and the ugly. I can embrace all my humanness which helps me embrace all of her humanness and other people’s humanness.
I feel so much deep gratitude in my heart for you ladies, I love you all my dear friends, and my retreat ladies, and the ladies of the Fab Five, you know who you are.
Thanks for listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with alcohol, check out my free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. That’s sherryprice.com/startnow. I’ll see you next week.