I believe that a good mother is not a perfect mother. I believe that
taking care of your children is not mutually exclusive of taking care of
I believe this, although I am not yet a mother. I am a 29-year old woman
who is just getting married this year, but one of the reasons that I
will be able to walk down the aisle to the man I love is because I
believe that when I am the mother of our children, I will still be in
charge of my own life.
It may sound naïve, but let me explain my belief. I founded
Sittercity.com, America’s first and largest matchmaking site for parents
and babysitters. Every day I speak with mothers who are frazzled,
harried, tired. They can’t remember when they got their last manicure,
had a date or took a bath. While I talk to them, they are cutting food,
filling sippy cups, shushing the children in the background.
These women can’t remember when they last felt free or sexy. They can’t
remember when they last had an adult conversation or when anything they
thought really mattered. Instead they find themselves cleaning
obsessively to regain control, working frantically to remove a last inch
of tummy pudge. Often, when they talk to me, they feel guilty – as if
needing help shows that they have somehow failed to measure up to
perfect motherhood. They are powerful women, but they seem to have lost
the freedom to believe that.
But there are other moms. They believe, like I do, that a mother has a
duty not only to her children but also to her husband and to herself. That
the “perfect mom” is not the same thing as a good mom – that
unrealistic expectations lead to anxiety and depression. I believe that
these moms hate what they see marketed to them on TV. How could any
mother ever feel excited about cleaning a toilet? What mom feels great
about doing laundry or sniffing air freshener? Who willingly picks up a
pregnancy book with a rocking chair on the cover?
I believe that these moms are closer to their Shangri-la. I believe they
have burst expectations in a way that is better for us all. I believe
they live more balanced lives. They believe that it’s ok to buy grocery
store cupcakes for a birthday party and not always bake your own. They
believe that kids might be better off playing in the yard or cul-de-sac
than in back-to-back play dates.
And I believe in babysitters. I believe that leaving the kids with a
good babysitter to head to a date or a spa appointment leads to happier
parents with stronger marriages and, ultimately, stronger families and
happier children. I believe that sometimes putting yourself first
doesn’t mean putting your children second. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.