In honor of Mother’s Day, we thought we’d cut the baby talk and be honest.
There are no performance reviews, and even when you feel like collapsing from exhaustion, you may not tender your resignation.
When you’re in the throes of potty training, pulling toddlers off bookshelves and comparing preschools, it’s hard to know whether you’re doing anything right. Then, as the years tick by, a mother gains confidence, but she also gains carpools, after-school activities and the tough, life-shaping choices that guide a child into adulthood. The learning curve, it seems, only gets steeper.
Motherhood is a business where even the naturals struggle, and experience counts for a lot. That’s why we went straight to grandmas around Clark County to tell us what makes a good mother.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
A good mother sacrifices. She sets aside cleaning, scrubbing and her individual goals to tend to her babies’ needs. She will try to understand your differences and encourage and support your endeavors. She will be a teacher, a counselor and a friend.
She will encourage abiding God’s discipline and instruction. She won’t always be your best friend when she disciplines, and she will help you realize that there are consequences to your actions and will hold you accountable.
A good mother will provide unconditional love, kindness and support.
— Leslie Peterson, Vancouver
Pick your battles. It is most important to enjoy your family and life. No one and nothing is perfect. Deal with one issue at a time, and know that change takes time.
The brighter and the more headstrong the child is, the harder it is to bring about change. Remember this determination is often what makes an adult successful in life.
— Merle Koplan, Vancouver
A good mother talks to her children and listens to what they say. Your kids are a lot smarter than you think, and their opinions should at least be heard. A 5-year-old frequently sees things more clearly than a busy mom. Kids are people; they should be treated that way.
Teach your children the Golden Rule, it’s the most important rule.
— Sarah Bozarth, Woodland
The best gift is time. Time to cuddle, kiss a boo-boo, be silly, help with homework, set rules and stand by them. Time to teach and share and encourage, and — finally — time to let go.
The next best gift is being ready. Ready with a diaper, a juice box, to pull an all-nighter to get the science project in on time. Ready to wear last year’s wardrobe so that the kids can get new winter coats, drive six hours to visit a struggling college student, and ready to help out when your son or daughter bring their own baby home for the first time.
Finally, a mom needs to love. There will be times they don’t love you back, and those are the times you must love them the most. There will be times as they grow when they offer all their love to a spouse and to a family of their own. Seeing their love paid forward will fill your heart with pride.
— Linda Daley, Battle Ground
A good mother is empathetic toward and shows respect for her child’s feelings, needs and point of view. A child treated that way is much more likely to have empathy for others as he grows up.
A good mother asks, “What is he feeling to make him behave that way?” and then responding in a way that considers those feelings instead of just her own.
— Sara Rolling, Vancouver
The ability to love first. We have to learn to be flexible yet stand firm in our beliefs. Show your children you are human, too, and have dreams and desires beyond their care.
— Shannon Brakefield, Vancouver
A good mother is a happy person who is loving and patient.
— Janet Barlow, Vancouver
To be a good mother you need to give your children love, time and training. There is a myth called ‘quality time.’ All time spent with children is quality time. Children just plain need their mother, father, grandparents and all the rest of their family talking and training as they spend their days together.
— Diane Baylous, Vancouver
A good mother is someone who knows her job is to raise her children to reach their full potential. My own children have developed in different ways, some struggled in areas and some excelled in areas. I tried not to compare, even though it is hard. Children need your attention and time. I worked jobs that gave me flexibility to be there for my kids, and I’m glad I did because they had my attention when they needed it.
— Jody Stokes, Vancouver
Being a good mother is like playing in an orchestra. Sometimes you play loud, with vigor and bold intention. Sometimes you play soft, soothing and gentle with whisper notes. Sometimes you just sit and listen and watch while others play. You enjoy the music and learn from just being quiet and still. You are always practicing. Sometimes you hit a really bad note, but you correct it and move on. You gain confidence in being with other people who share your passion.
As the music changes, so do you. You learn that just like in an orchestra, there are many different tones and styles and you try them out, keeping what works well for your child, not what works well just for yourself.
— Wendy Mikota, Vancouver
Putting your child’s welfare and interests before your own. When making decisions that affect them, listen to their concerns. And recognize that the window of opportunity to get it right is far more narrow than we think.
— Sally Torson, Vancouver
A good mother avoids preconceived ideas about who her child should be. It’s too easy to allow one’s ego to get in the way of just witnessing the emerging human and, with guidance, allowing that unique little person to find herself. Also a good mother is able to allow her child to fail. She does not always get in the way of the mistakes and failures that teach a child more than anything else can. All of this has to happen within an envelope of nurturance, unconditional love and healthy attachment.
— Barbara Robinette, Vancouver
A good mother is a nurse when we get a boo-boo, a counselor through our trials and tribulations, a comforter when all seems hopeless, a comedian when you need a good laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a protector from the storms, a chauffeur to take you to your destination, a teacher, a maid, a coach, a cook. She accomplishes all this and much more, asking for nothing except your love in return, but more than anything she is a woman who loves you more than her own life, and would be willing to lay it down for you without question.
— Carol Medvec, Vancouver
Just be there. Master balancing your kids and husband. Enjoy cooking and cleaning. Love sports in rain or sunshine. Smile a lot, even when you don’t feel like it. Be able to take being hurt by your kids’ words or actions, but know how to hide it. Know how to think before you speak. Have an open mind and heart to love your kids no matter what. I tried to do all of this but realized I didn’t master it all. I had to learn to say, “Forgive me,” at times.
— Linda Curry, Vancouver
Sacrifice. We start to realize what our mom went through. It’s not about us anymore; it’s how we teach this little person how to be a self-reliant and contributing member of society.
We don’t do our children any favors by coddling them, doing too much for them.
Be careful about too many directives such as, “don’t do this, don’t do that.” Instead, take time to teach and talk through things so they learn to think.
Teach them there is a power greater than themselves. If they learn to call for help it will aid them their whole life. Take the time to teach them about all their mixed emotions, how to describe what they are, how to feel, how to turn those anxieties over.
Being a parent changes us. It humbles us; it’s wonderful. Even though it is difficult at times, we learn it’s not about us anymore, it’s about loving, helping, teaching, guiding, and, in the process we learn.
— Janet Klinefelter Baker, Vancouver