Do Chicago moms need gold stars for parenting well done?

Perhaps it was the Blackhawks going down 3-1.

Or maybe it was the school system preparing to release my children for the entire summer.

It could’ve been due to low blood sugar or the possibility of hitting early menopause.

But I recently found myself in a very bad mood.

For like a week.

Maybe two.

A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood.

For example, I have taken to writing angry letters on why NBC got it wrong with “American Dream Builders.” I have chased extra children out of my house with “Mrs. Walsh is in a mood…SAVE YOURSELVES.” I have called the cable company just to yell at someone.

At the pinnacle of this heightened level of grumpiness, there arrived one of those cheerful, headline grabbing email articles on “Ten Ways to Know If You Are a Good Mother.”

Angry embers of righteous indignation stirred.

It got me thinking of another time when a relative accused me of never telling her she was a good mother. It wasn’t as though I ever criticized her parenting, it was just that I never made a conscious effort to congratulate her on the fine job she was doing with her offspring.

It took everything I had not to roll my eyes and hand her a freaking gold star.

Who gets into parenting for the validation?

If you’re leaving everything you have on the table, does it matter what anyone else thinks? Has the concept of “everyone gets a trophy” been upgraded to empty words of scripted praise from other mothers?

Eff that.

I know I am a good mother. Nobody ever had to tell me. Have I made mistakes? Sure. Have I lost my sh*t some days? Absolutely. Have I given my kids enough material to eventually write a bestseller? Hell yeah.

But I love my boys, and most of my decisions (with the exception of the aforementioned “losing my sh*t” part) are geared towards raising decent human beings.

Sure, statistics will tell you I’m bound to muck up at least one of them.

Yet I continue at it each and every day to the best of my abilities.

Has anyone ever told me I am a good mother?


But not in actual words.

It happens when a child gets invited to someone’s house for a playdate and then gets asked to stay for dinner. It happens when old babysitters stop by from college just to visit the kids. It happens when a teacher with all daughters runs up on the last day of school to say if she ever had a son, she would want one just like yours.

Don’t get me wrong.

My kids can be giant pains in the butt.

And I can definitely be a French fry short of a Happy Meal.

Have I been told I am a good mother?

In some ways, a million times.

In some ways, not once.

The only time it will ever mean anything to me is when a grown man is overcome with love, fear, and an insatiable desire to forever protect the child he rocks in his arms. Then, and only then, will those words have actual meaning.

“You were a good mom, mom.”

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