Caroline Marie

caroline marie

caroline marie
northern city, United States
July 24
Temperamental Story Teller
posts will tell


OCTOBER 20, 2010 1:47PM

Good Mom / Bad Mom

Rate: 22 Flag


Mothering is on my mind.  My daughter is twelve and a half, and her tween colors are really starting to show.  October 2006 is when my adoption of her was finalized.  February will be our 5 year anniversary of living together.  It's been a long and winding road. 

I spend way too much time comparing myself to other mothers, evaluating where I stand on the spectrum of bad to good parenting.  Some days I think I am better than most, especially in the way I take the time to explain things to my daughter and instill certain values. Other days, I feel that I am cold, maybe even abusive.


Here are the mothering actions I'm most proud of: 

  1. Every night (that I am not too pissed at her) I tuck her in and we say a prayer listing all the things we were grateful for in the day.  I teach her my spiritual beliefs/practices about meditation, angels & spirits, saints, Jesus & Buddha, listening to your inner voice.
  2. I try to monitor all media she consumes.  I love movies as an educational tool.  I spend time finding ones that teach good life lessons.  When I discover she watched something yucky at a friend's house, I ask her questions and talk to her about the messages.  When commercials air, I sometimes ask "what are they trying to sell you?"  "what are they trying to get you to believe?"  When she returned from a friend's house with a "Clique" book (they're disgusting), I took a deep breath, prepared for an argument and shared my concerns.  I use regularly.
  3. I have befriended her friends' parents and stay abreast of what goes on in the lives of the people who surround her.
  4. I have not given her the tools of disengagement--cell phone, ipod, etc.  On our 3500 mile road trip, we listened to music & audio books  together.
  5. I drag my butt out of bed every school-year sunday morning, so that she can attend a sunday school where she learns about social justice, pluralism, the importance of kindness, and heroic people who have helped others. 
  6. I monitor her sugar intake.  No pop in the house, except very special occasions.  No yucky cereals or other sugary crap.  I buy mostly organic food.
  7. Almost daily, I point out to her beautiful things in nature, seasonal changes, etc.  Now she does it too.
  8. I talk about money with her.  How much things cost, how much jobs pay, how most people in the world don't have very much of it.  I talk about careers--pointing out different jobs we encounter in our daily lives:  the education needed, the fun and not so fun aspects.
  9. I talk about social justice issues.  I seek out opportunities to educate her about the struggles that women, native people, people of color, GLBT people, poor and working class people have faced.  She knows how I feel about recreational shopping, bullshit labels & brand names, using "things" to feel better about ourselves or to be popular.
  10. I am firm & consistent: about how she can talk to and treat me (with respect) and about rules & consequences.  She is quite a tantrum thrower, and many times I want to let things go and save myself a headache.  But I never, and I mean never, give in to whining, or disrespectful behavior.  As a result, she is now a well mannered child as compared to the wild animal child she was when I adopted her.
  11. As a family of two, with no relatives in our state, I have been innovative in creating holiday traditions and the feeling of being a part of a community. 
  12. I kept her in the same school when we moved to a different neighborhood, so now I must drive her every day.
  13. I enroll her in sport activities year-round, and watch many of her games.  I HATE sports.  HATE.  She loves every sport & is a talented athlete.


These are my mothering traits I'm most ashamed of:

  1. I lack patience.  I'm easily annoyed.  I'm often rushing her or telling her to stop bugging me.
  2. I am not affectionate.  I make an effort, but it does not come easily & I'm sure she feels it.  I'm always the one to end a hug.
  3. I roll my eyes--daily.  It's a habit I got from my mom that I can't seem to break, although I do try.
  4. Criticisms roll off my tongue much easier than compliments or keeping silent.
  5. Sometimes I lose my temper, usually when I have PMS.  When I do lose it, I can see that I scare her.  I yell loud.  I have called her a brat or told her to stop acting stupid.  When she refuses to go to her room, I will physically put her there.  For years she used to hit/punch/bite me when having a fit, until last year when I finally put an end to it and smacked her back.  (not very hard, but still.)
  6. When she starts arguing with me at the dinner table, I take my dinner, move to the couch & eat in front of the TV.
  7. When she starts arguing with me in the car, I turn up the radio loud.  (I'm sure this is going to bite me in the ass when she's a teenager.)
  8. When she first moved to my home and her fits were REALLY bad, I would just run out of the house & jog around the neighborhood.  (Notice my trend of immature actions?)  Sometimes she would try to chase after me, in her was not pretty.
  9. I'm not very involved at her school, especially as compared to most moms in this neighborhood.
  10. I told her there was no Santa Claus during an argument.  In fact, I yelled it.  (granted she was nearly 12, but I will never stop feeling bad about the way I told her.)
  11. I'm not very nurturing when she's sick or hurt.  I try, but she tells me I'm not very good at it.  I have to remind myself to feel sympathy instead of annoyance.
  12. I swear a lot.
  13. We eat out A LOT.  Not McDonald's, but still.   We eat a lot of frozen food--labeled healthy & organic, but I know that's mostly a marketing ploy.  I just don't like to cook regularly.  And part of the reason I'm so strict about her sugar intake is because I know if we bring it into the house I will consume it all while she is asleep.
  14.  I haven't started her college fund yet.
  15. I need a lot of space.  And time alone.  Especially now that I'm trying to write a book in my free time.  I don't spend as much time with her as I used to.
  16. I've given up my efforts to keep her (older, living across the country) siblings in her life.  She misses them.

I guess it's pretty much a toss up how it will all work out.  All I can hope for is that I've given her enough tools to create a life of meaning, that I have built her up more than torn her down, and that she won't hate me for all the rest.


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Long, navel-gazing lists help me procrastinate...
This is nice. Although I'd ease up on the sugar. Don't want her to get a denial complex, as in, "that's forbidden, so I must have MORE." Rated.
I know, I've been thinking that myself....
Well thought out lists you have here. From your shame list I agonize about #4. I moved in to my step son's life when he was 12.
Keep breathing, sounds like you are a great mother.
ratings! That was a very brave article
I see a lot more positives than negatives. Oh, and just a warning: wait until the time when you BOTH have pms.
And if it makes you feel better, we never started a college fund. We didn't have the money for it. She got into a great college anyway and there are scholarships and financial aid for most everyone to help with the enormous cost. xoxo
I am on almost the same adoption trajectory as you, except I am a few years ahead (finalized in 04, she almost 16 now). A bit different in that it's not just me and we got the older brother as well.

My first thought is that I am just IN AWE of you doing this yourself. Jaw-dropping, stunned, in awe.

My second thought is to work now as quickly as possible to stop comparing yourself to any other mother in your neighborhood or at the school. They got - and continue to get - so much more positive feedback than you do from their children. This was one piece I really didn't understand before we got in this game, and it continues to be a challenge.

Hang in there. Take the long view of her progress whenever the day to day seems to hard to face. Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.
Great piece, Caroline...xox
I think if you show love, believe in it and try to share it, its all good. Everyone makes mistakes, what is important is that if you do, try and recognize them, it never hurts to apologize if you don't think you are right or you know you are not. Kids respect that and learn it themselves. It is an important lesson. Good luck. R
Kudos to you for being able to recognize both your strong traits and the weaknesses. Usually mothers are quick to see the bad points and slower to see the good. It's great that nowhere in your lists do you reference what other people think of you as a parent. I think it's very important to tune out that noise and listen to yourself. I've noticed that the people who tell me I'm too strict with my young children are the same ones who always rave about what pleasant, sweet, well-mannered and delightful children they are. Hmm. Clearly I'm not psychologically damaging them by insisting that they always use their manners!
All of us could do a good mom/bad mom list. I remember the first time I really lost it and yelled at Jacob. He was 3 and we were getting ready to go on a 3-family vacation. On the of the other moms remarked "Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who morphs into "psycho mom" occasionally!". I really respect you for resisting the electronics- I am already on the verge of caving about a nintendo DS....
It takes courage to post such a list. I couldn't have done it when my son was growing up. Reading yours, I found myself wondering if your emphasis is so much on giving her what you believe to be important values and life lessons (an admirable goal) that maybe it's a little hard to hear, and take the time for, what she needs from you from her POV?
kh333--Your 2nd thought made me cry. God, that is so true! So true. It reminds me of when P first came to live with me and I was venting to my cousin. She said, "All new mothers think they're doing a terrible job. The difference here is that you are a new mom whose kid keeps saying out loud 'you are doing a terrible job'
Much more to say about this--but thank you, I REALLY needed to hear that.
thank you eastinidaho--#4 is a killer. Thank you.

thank you V&M

Joan, good point about college. And yes, I have great fears about P's hormonal changes. she's pretty volatile already...
Your daughter is lucky to have a mother who is honest and insightful--great combination.
thank you robin & sheila & terry

True, blue, it's always such a relief to hear that other mothers lose it too

hawley, the honest cold hard truth is that as a child who was badly abused and neglected, P is in a constant state of needing way more than I can ever give her. some days my only solace is the reminder that at least I got her out of foster care. at least there's that.
You are a good mother.. you do the best you can and you love her.
Forget what other people do.
rated with hugs
I think you covered all the bases . . . and even with your perceived shortcomings, I think you're on the right track as a parent . . . the pros cover a multitude . . .
We are all good moms and bad moms. You're a braver woman (and a better mom!) than I if you're willing to LIST all the ways you are a bad mom! The things is...the imperfect "real" mom in you will give her permission to be imperfect and "real" too. Especially if when you make a mistake you take ownership of it and sincerely apologize and let her know you're trying and that the path to being a better person (not a perfect person) is a difficult one, but interesting because you never know what you'll discover about yourself along the way.
There is no such thing as a 'perfect' parent - only those who try really hard. As you do.
@Caroline, well yes, but I was thinking more about *our* hormonal changes... :)
I admire your ability to make an honest list of what you see as your strengths and weaknesses as a mom. You have a lot to be proud of and those are very important anchors in shaping your daughter's character. On the other hand to keep up with all requires a lot of energy and sacrifice from your time and personal needs, which may be the cause of your impatience and temperament. As she becomes a teen she won't need as much affection, so you have a small window left to provide her with that, if you want, so that she will remember tender moments in the future. I remember your earlier posts and I think you've come a long way. Congratulations, it's not easy.
Being a parent is SO challenging. You are courageous and honest. Your daughter appears to be in good hands.
You sound like a "normal" mom to me.
combine your lists and say you are a good enough Mom;
it is impossible to do everything right, it is too difficult and demanding a job; you're ok
1) sounds like you have the standard mother-daughter competition going.
2) she is growing up, and what I didn't hear was how you train her to make her own best choices.
3) lighten up on yourself, you are your worst critic!
Your positives list is amazing. You should be proud of that!
Lots of good positives. On the negative side, you can just delete 12, 13, and 14. Perhaps you can turn eye rolling into a joke: "Oops! There I go again!" And maybe talk to her about some of the others. And just perhaps forgive yourself for them.

Rated for impressive honesty.
You're doing an amazing job. I wish I could have done half of the actions you are most proud of.....
My son is now fifteen. From what he tells me, it seems like the girls have a rougher time these days. They are tough on each other - not to mention the impact of so-called mainstream media on them. Keep up the good work and try not to be so hard on yourself (easy to say -- hard to implement).
You make my parenting seem like it came from a Jackass movie. Geez.
Thank you so much for your support & encouragement everyone. Many of you have given me some food for thought and I appreciate it.

Michael, you cracked me up!
It's quite a confessional statement, all involved with what it takes to grow up to be a parent.
I'm no flying ace at it either.
To try one's best is really of value, however, and the fact that you are so honorable in most of the behaviors you exhibit, tells me you are giving it every effort one ought to expect from any adoptive mom.

I really respect your work for her. Keep it up!
This is very interesting. I think in the end it all balances out. You seem so invested in your daughter, and I love how you can see the results, like how you've gotten her to observe nature and her surroundings, as you do. As for the "bad" stuff, you're only human. I don't see beating, abandoning, or any other really, really rough stuff on there. I think no one's perfect and being a parent is really, really hard work. You may not be physically affectionate, but you seem to show your love in so many other ways, like with the roadtrip where you guys spent time listening to things together. Not everyone has to be touchy-feely. My boyfriend grew up in a home where he was loved, but rarely hugged or kissed, and he seems all right. So don't worry about it. I think you're doing great, and, most importantly, it's clear you love your daughter.