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How I became a Good Mom

Updated on October 22, 2010

I promise - I have flaws

Over the last 15 years or so I have been touted as being the ‘perfect’ Mom by children who are disappointed in their own mothers. Though this is VERY flattering it is far from the truth. I am in no way shape or form perfect. I have my flaws.

It took me 3 kids to realize that babies need more than milk to keep them full. I learned this on the 3rd one. For the first two I was fairly young, 20 then 23 and tired a lot. My philosophy was give the baby a bottle and go back to bed. When the oldest made a mess I would clean it up later. The diaper package said it would hold 22 - 30 pounds (of pee right?).

Truly I made more work for myself than was actually necessary, but it took me a long time to realize it.  If I would have just ‘did it’ at the time it needed doing (whatever ‘it’ was) then I wouldn’t have to do twice as much later.  For example;  If I fed the baby cereal before bedtime he wouldn’t get up 4 times a night for a bottle and I wouldn’t have to wash the sheets daily.  I wasn’t exactly what you would call a quick learner in those days.

The one you practice on

Bless my oldest son, he was the one I practiced being a parent on.  He got the worst of my experience.  There are many things he could hold against me, yet he doesn’t.  Because he was the oldest, everything that happened with him, happened for the first time.  I was raised spare the rod, spoil the child.  That means he got the most spankings.

When he was in the 1st grade his teacher and I had an agreement, if she sent home a ‘happy face’ he did good.  If it was a ‘sad face’ he did bad.  Bad, to my understanding meant he was being mean to other kids, misbehaving and so on, it was what we had agreed upon.  For one solid month he spent the afternoons in his room, because he had brought home ‘sad faces’.   I asked him one day why he got a sad face, just to see if he knew.  He said it was for not getting his spelling words right.

Of course I called the teacher, she agreed, his sad faces were for not doing well in academics.  Yes, I was very angry.  Here I had been punishing my child for not being able to do school work.  I learned a lesson from this, don’t always believe what you think you see or hear, and bless the teachers for taking the time to teach, but they are not always right.  My son was later diagnosed with a learning disability.  The guilt I carry around with me over this is very heavy.

He still loves me to this day!

I was pregnant with my 3rd child at this time and I was miserable.  We were living in one of the hottest parts of the Country, southern Florida and it was nearing June.  For the most part all I could do was sit in front of a fan.  At one point in my pregnancy for two straight weeks I couldn’t eat any food, it made me sick.  I finally begged my husband to heat me something up in the microwave.  The smell made me sick, so I had to try to eat with my nose plugged.

My second son at this time was a busy little bee, he kept busy following his brother around, who didn’t much care for him at the time.  He kept getting hurt, falling out of trees, getting beat up and such.  Finally I put a halt to that when he came home unconscious from being knocked out of a tree.  He had to get used to hanging out with me until we made a friend for him that was around his age.  I learned a lesson from this, never trust your eldest child to watch over your youngest, they won’t do a good job.  I was learning quicker, this son thinks I am wonderful and loves me dearly.

You don't always get what you want

When my 3rd child was born she was rather colicky, for the first 6 months she was breast fed.  It wasn’t until I switched her to the bottle that she stopped crying.  I learned from this that not all babies can be breast fed, no matter what the Doctors say.  She was lactose intolerant.

During this time my husband decided he wanted to be a truck driver, I did not want this at all.  I didn’t get married to lose my husband to the road.  He did it anyway, in the process leaving me to raise the children.  I learned that to be a good mother I was going to have to take the responsibility of raising them myself.  There were no more threats of “Wait until your father gets home”.  Everything that needed to be done was dealt with swiftly.

Don't wait - ask now

A mere 18 months later I gave birth to my 4th child, thinking this may be my last child my mother went with me to deliver her.  When she was 3 days old her 18 month old sister rolled her off the couch.  I learned that newborns are very resilient. 

When she was 19 days old we learned that she had broken her collar bone when she came out, she was my largest child weighing 9lbs 13oz.  From this I learned to ask questions from the Doctor when the baby is born, not waiting until the first Doctors appointment.

The guilt weighs heavy on me

A short 16 months later I delivered my 5th   child, a daughter as well.  This one was slightly different.  She didn’t cry, if she got upset she stuck her thumb in her mouth.  Since she was my only thumb sucker I thought it was cute.  She too was breast fed, but after only a few minutes on the breast she would fall asleep and being as busy as I was, I’d think that she was full and would put her down.

When she was two months old a older family friend looked at her and said there was something wrong with her, that she looked funny.  I promised her that I would take her to the Doctors on Monday.  The Doctors office said that they couldn’t fit me in, and I should take her to the emergency room.  So I did just that.  They hospitalized her for 4 days, she wasn’t eating enough.  They called her a failure to thrive baby.  This devastated me.  I felt as though I had done something wrong.  The guilt I carry around for this is immeasurable, if I had just paid more attention.  

She survived because I learned.  I learned to pay attention to her needs, as well as her wants.  In my quest for being a good Mother, she taught me well.  All of my children taught me, everything I learned about being a good mother came from paying attention to my children.

Read between the lines

As my children got older my patience with them increased, one would think it would have been the opposite. I paid closer attention to them, I learned to read between the lines when they were talking. Not all children speak with clarity. For example;

When my oldest boy was about 10 and my youngest boy was 7 they went out to play for a short time. I told them to stay clean, we were going shopping for new carpeting shortly (after I got the girls ready). Within ½ hour my oldest boy came home to tell me that his brother had ripped his pants. Ok, I got that he would have to change his clothes. I told him “Go get your brother, and be quick about it.” 10 minutes later he returned with “Mom, Anthony ripped his pants” (once again). “Yes, Matthew you told me that, now go tell him to get home, we have to leave”. Less than 10 minutes later he returned with “Mom, that guy sure is mad at you”. WHAT???!!! Ok, now we were on to something. At first Matthew was just trying to get Anthony in trouble, I understood that part, but if ‘some guy’ was involved something had to be terribly wrong. My husband grabbed Matthew and jumped in the car to go find him.

The guy was so mad because I didn’t come right away, he thought I was ignoring my son’s injury. He had climbed a fence and Matthew thinking he’d be funny shook the fence, Anthony got caught on one of the pointy things at the top, ripping a corner tear in his thigh. Rather than get carpeting we spent the day in the emergency room getting stitches.

Tell Me Everything!

So I learned to stop what I was doing, take a hold of the child by the arms, look them in the eye and ask for a better explanation.  Using the words “Tell me everything that happened” became normal language for me.

These were just the very early years of parenting for me, with each new development I had to learn something new, and in the process learn how to deal with it.  Children are an ever changing tide and each one has their own personality.  I learned what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

10 things every good Mom should know!

When one of my young friends asks me how I became such a good Mother, there are so many things that I can tell them of what NOT to do. But what I do tell them is this:

  1. Be patient - Life is going to happen one day at a time.

   2. Keep your eyes open to every new thing your child does.

   3. Babies need more than milk, give them cereal before bedtime, you will get more sleep, I promise.

   4.Diapers that hold 22 - 30 pounds, that means weight of the baby not the pee it holds.

   5.Listen to the people around you, most of them have experienced ‘it’ before, or at least heard of it.

   6.Don’t always trust the adults in authority, sometimes they get frustrated too, or are just plain mean.

   7. Ask questions of people in Authority Doctors, Nurses and such.

   8. Older brothers (or sisters) do not always have the best interests of their younger siblings, for the most part there is jealousy, and getting the younger ones in trouble is fun!

   9. Raising your children is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, do not rely on a spouse to do so. You gave birth to them, shoulder that responsibility, if you get help from your partner AWESOME, if you don’t, tough it out. Do the best job you can.

  10. Most importantly LEARN daily. Listen to your child, they will teach you new and different things. Each child is different, so you will have to learn how to deal with each one individually. Life is a continually learning experience, you may not realize it but each day that something happens you learn something new. So just because you are out of school and you (at this point in your life) have no intentions of returning doesn’t mean you stop learning. Don’t fight it, embrace it, welcome it. Learn something new everyday.


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    • ImChemist profile image

      ImChemist 7 years ago

      I think you already good mom.

    • Traqqer profile image

      Traqqer 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great article. I agree that the first one is the experiment we learn from.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Having a High maintenance baby is pretty hard, my 3rd one was high maintenance.. I feel your pain! They keep you on your toes for sure! When she was about 3 weeks old my husband came home from work, I tried handing her to him so I could fix dinner. I told him that I couldn't get anything done, she cried all the time he said to me "Well, you wanted another baby." That could have been the 'slap hear round the world' if I wouldn't have been too tired to raise my arm.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • izettl profile image

      Lizett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Great hub! I only have one daughter and thats all I plan to have so this is it- rough draft and final draft, so to speak, wrapped up in one.

      I also had the same experience as you with the breastfeeding and milk allergy. And I completely agree with raising kids is ultimately always majority on the shoulders of moms.

      The story of your 5th child resonates with me because I griped about having a "high maintenance" baby as opposed to a happy or easy baby, but then I realized I had no baby experience before my daughter so it was probably a good thing she demanded what she wanted immediately and never stopped until the need was fulfilled. I probably would have been in your shoes if I had a baby like your 5th one.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      LOL, yeah... you have to look them in the eye while you're saying it otherwise they still might not get it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting

    • lisakleinweber profile image

      lisakleinweber 7 years ago

      "Tell Me Everything" that's a good one and I will use it.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks! Glad you found something useful in it!

    • JohnBarret profile image

      JohnBarret 7 years ago

      Oh wow!

      Good information.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      LOL @ Merlin - YES, I have done that!! Not quite to that extent, but it has happened... (well not like that in a store anyway!)

      @ Laughing Loon - My youngest is 18 and yep, still have a houseful of people, they just keep giving me stuff to write about!!

    • laughing loon profile image

      Lynda -Bailey 7 years ago from South Los Angeles

      Thanks for making me remember. My youngest is 17 and I still have a house full of kids and animals. Great hub!

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 7 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      I'm not much into Child physcology but this might help

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Eiddwen - Oh absolutely!! Everyone has different parenting skills.. One is not any better than then other (unless of course as you say they are diabolical) We all continue to learn and grow throughout our life, it's as it should be!

      onegoodwoman - Thank you! I told my oldest son he had headlines on this one and he said "It seems that I headline a LOT of your stories".. LOL He's so funny... When I told him about the school thing he was appalled at me (he had forgotten) oh great no I gave him some ammo against me!! Arrrgh.. I'll never live it down now!!

      Thank you both for stopping by reading and commenting!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Love it!

      I also kinda think your first child is an " experiment". By the Grace of God, they make it through, and so do we.

      Think what good Grandmothers we will be after all this practice!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Hi I enjoyed this hub as a mother of six and grandmother of ten.

      When my eldest son was born we lived in a caravan with no running water, and stayed there for the first eight months of his life.

      I can remember the first night in our house I was continuously looking for the water can!!

      I think that bringing up children is a very personal and unless someone's parenting skills are diabolical then it is up to the individual.

      My first three babies were like the text books:

      Fed every four hours

      Slept all night at 6 weeks old etc.

      I really got a little haughty about problem telling myself that these mothers with problem babies were doing everything wrong. Thank goodness I kept these opinions to myself.

      Then number 4 came along and that was it. He would not feed properly, he used to take 2 hours to drink six ounces of milk then I would sit him up to wind him and back it all came.

      He would not stay down in his cot, would not sleep. Doctors decided he was allergic to cow's milk and put him on soya formula instead.

      No better so one day I went to the fridge and boiled up pasteurised cows milk for him. I thought it couldn't get any worse and guess what he drank every last drop and never went sick again.

      There was still the matter of no sleep and no routine so one day I thought I am going to be happy with this one just like I was with his siblings, it was against my grain to be a miserable mother.

      So I gave in to him and followed his own peculiar routine and that was the best thing I ever did.

      Ok I didn't have any time to myself and not a lot of sleep either but I didn't care because I had taken the strain out of it and I was a happy mother once more.

      So I do believe that every mother will find their own way .

      Thanks for sharing this hub , it certainly bought many memories back.

      Take care.

      One point I would like to make is that we cannot pin all bad behaviour that our children demonstrate down to bad parenting.

      At the end of the day if we know that we have done our best as parents then they must take responsibility for their own downfalls.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Healing Touch - Having children has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, so far. If they become good parents, then I know I will have done a really good job. So far - they are doing fantastic as parents, and I am enjoying every minute of being a 'Memaw'.

      Merlin - Yes, those on adoption boards should understand that being a good parent is not something people can learn and tell about. You aren't going to know how to deal with it until 'it' happens.

      I read a wonderful story of an adoptive Mom who listened to the voice of a birth mom, and she learned from it. An excerpt from it went something like this: Her teenage adopted daughter had been telling her "I hate you", she was crying and very frustrated with it, telling her over and over "Well I don't hate you, I Love you...." She over heard (in a grocery store) a mother and daughter talking the daughter said to her mom "I hate you!" the mom replied "Yeah, well I hate you too!" Of course neither one hated the other, these were just words to get a rise out of the other, and it didn't work. She realized that she had been treating her daughter like an 'adopted' daughter rather than a 'real' one.

      Loveslove - Wow, how bad did your son's get in trouble? When mine were younger they seemed to truly hate each other. Now, they'd kill for one another. It amazes me to this day. Aren't those grand children a blast?

      Yesterday my one grandson said to me "Memaw, there poop on the deck" (Curtis our pup) I said "Yeah, Memaw needs to clean it up" He said "No, Papa clean it!" LOL He will turn 2 Nov 2... He luvs his Memaw!!!

    • Loveslove profile image

      Loveslove 7 years ago from England

      I also learnt with age and experience...I had a daughter late in life (35) after 2 sons,they loved her but were always hurting her,even breaking her elbow in one incident ,and I didnt realise til a few weeks later when it was swollen.The learning never stops I am still in the middle of a teaching process with 6 grandchildren !!

      Great hub enjoyed reading it.

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 7 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      I think this Hub should be standard reading for all those idiots who sit on adoption boards who are looking for perfection in the prospective parents right out of the box.

      Life is not perfect it's a huge learning curve from day one for both parent and child just as it should be.

      As long as we continue to learn and have a lot of fun en route isn't that what really counts ?

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      This was such a honest hub. None of us moms are perfect, nor are the dad's. The fact that you wrote about what you learned was so uplifting. Raising kids is the hardest thing ever, and the best. Great job sweetsusieg

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Awww, that is SO nice of you to say that! Now to figure out how to do all that 'other' stuff! Any ideas??? LOL

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      susie - Without changing even one word, I could easily see this hub as the first chapter in your new book of the same title, "How I Became a Good Mom."

      With the right promotion and marketing every new mom and mom-to-be would benefit from your experience and wisdom. Go for it, girl.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      @Dave - You got it! Each one is different and therefore needs different things done for them. I think because my kids' friends look up to me so much that my kids think there is something to it, they do ask for my advice on many things. Sometimes they take it and sometimes they don't. Either way I don't get mad I just tell them "This is how I would do it".

      @motherbeastly - LOL, Love your name!! Isn't it funny how you can be so close to your oldest ones? I Love each of them equally, but yet differently. Each one holds a piece of my heart all to themselves.

      @dallas93444 - Thank you for recognizing that in me from just my words alone.

      Thank you all for stopping by reading and commenting!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Wisdom: you earned it. Great information. The loves shows...

    • motherbeastly profile image

      motherbeastly 7 years ago from Argyll and Albox

      As the mother of six children and grandmother of another six I really relate to this. I too am surprised that my eldest daughter speaks to me, my practising on her led to a much easier time for the others. By the time I got to child number 6 I was a very relaxed parent and he had a much easier time. But I did try to understand and adapt to each one and they all had as much love as I could give them, which was possibly the main thing. I loved this.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Sweetsusieg: Unlike toys and things, that come with assembly instructions and instructions on how to care for, babies,children donot, so we learn by trial and error trying everything till we find something that works. The problem does not stop there though, for what works with the first may not necessarily work with the second or third or even the seventh. Therefore we have to learn all over again with each child, yes we can adapt tricks of the trade from one to the next, but no one child is identical to the other and what works with one, may not work with all there is no "One plan fits all" with growing up children. I know, been there done that with 4 siblings and helping to raise them as both my parents worked for a living and I was the eldest of 5.

      Now you get to be the grandparent and if asked teach your kids how to raise their kids. Of course they won't ask though, so you let them make their own mistakes,trial and error is a great teacher for us all.

      Brother Dave.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I feel like I've been in hyper drive, it's went so fast! I really have some good memories with my kids thats for sure! With 5 you can imagine... we've never had an easy go of it, but I have always tried to make sure there is enough Love to go around.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      SweetSusieg - This is the Greatest Hub. Thank you for sharing your good heart. My poor kids, and my oldest son too. Yipes. I too was young and spent some 100+ degree days in a trailer park, and had a lot to learn too. Today my kids say the hardest times were their most memorable and positive memories...who knew? PS - It does go fast.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Bayoulady - Thanks for the vote of confidence! If I ever do put something in 'book' form, it will probably b e something along the lines of "Lesson's Learned". Yep, practice makes perfect. My youngest daughter said to me "You kept on going til you got a good one, right?" She's too funny!!

      Laura - Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Thank you both for reading and commenting!

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa

      Really enjoyed reading your hub! Amusing and warm!

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      A great read! We all get better with practice don't we? I have three....maybe I should been given ONE MORE, to get even better! Susie this stuff woulsd sell, I just betcha! jackie

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      LOL Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, they were something else for sure. My youngest son's neck was so thick at one point that he could have been a wrestler.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • ChristinaScibona profile image

      Christina 7 years ago from The Heart of the Finger Lakes

      Oh I just loved this! You made me laugh as I thought about all the things my two boys do to get each other in trouble. You hit that nail on the head with this hub!