It’s often a good thing to have a firm grasp of your imperfections and weaknesses, especially if this induces the effort required to be better. An over emphasis on these things, however, is not healthy if for no other reason than it keeps you in a permanent loop of thinking about yourself.
On the other hand, we almost always err in one of two directions: we overestimate our own goodness or overstate or flaws. There are those people who think they are just the bee’s knees all the time or others who think the world would be better off if they were never born, but both of those are extreme cases. Most of us have some areas where we are confident or at least comfortable with our progress, and others where we think we need lots of help.
One of the things I have said here on two occasions (and even included on my about page) is that my confidence in my mothering is far from solid. I don’t think I’m a bad mother. My kids eat nutritious food, are pretty well educated, they are kept safe, and know they are loved. I think I should have done better, been more patient, more attentive at times, and in just better in general. As a result, I joke that while I’d give myself an ‘A’ on the wife report card, as a mother I’d give myself a ‘C+’.
The great thing about having adult children is that they offer some perspective. They remember that you were at every school event, was a room mother, chaperoned field trips and baked and decorated their birthday cakes yourself. They remember that you took them to the park and cooked meals for their friends when they came over. In other words, the days does come when they “rise up and call you blessed.”
While I genuinely believe that the Benevolent Dictator is a stellar human being who makes me better, one of my kids recently said something that has given me pause with regard to my less than enthusiastic assessment of my mothering.
When I noted that our kids always have way more fun playing with their dad than I am able to muster, the oldest said to me, “You were with us all the time! Daddy worked a lot, so of course, you guys spent your time with us differently. He could afford to be the fun parent, but you did a lot of the work.”
I still don’t think I would win any awards for the World’s Greatest Mother, but man, do I feel better!