Am I doing this motherhood thing right?

There’s no better way to spend a day off than to find out the myriad of ways that you’re inadequate. And I find the best way to do this is by taking an online quiz.

It makes for great balance. Anytime I’m feeling good or maybe a little too big for my britches, I’ll bring myself down a notch or two, then I take a quiz. Conversely, when I’m feeling bad, I quickly turn to Judge Judy or Jerry Springer and let the never-ending problems of others cascade over me.

As a single parent, I've tried to balance being a full time dad and a part time mom.

As a single parent, I’ve tried to balance being a full time dad and a part time mom.

So this morning I found myself intrigued with an email with the tempting link to find out the “15 Signs You’re doing Motherhood Right.” Ok, it wasn’t quite a quiz. But that’s ok because I’m not quite a mother. Again, I look to balance (yet one more reason The Karate Kid has had such an impact on my life.). And while I’m not into motherhood, I do have to assume the role of a mother sometime.

So, in no particular order, here are some of those signs, and how I seem to be faring with each.

1. “The kids smile about 90 percent of the time” – well yeah, but only because they’re laughing at my ineptitude at being a, ahem, mom. You may think I’m kidding, but you haven’t seen my cooking.

2. “They share with others” – definitely true here. Just the other day, I saw my son online sharing my bank account and credit card numbers with some new friends he had made online.

3. “You aren’t afraid to issue a time out” – I know a lot of parents have trouble with this one. But not me. Nope, any time my kid is doing something wrong, I find a timeout works great . . . I just go in the other room, take a few deep breaths, and pretend there’s nothing wrong.

4.”They say please and thank you without being told” – They’re supposed to do that?

5. “You put their need to eat, bathe, and sleep before your own” Again, an easy one for me. I stick the kid in the bathtub, turn on some water, hand him his nearly-thawed TV dinner, and remind him to turn off the water before he goes to sleep.

6. “They would rather cry on your shoulder than a tissue” Yes, but only because we’re out of tissues about 99 percent of the time.

7. “They call for you when they have a bad dream” – I used to ask my son what he dreamed about. He would tell me, very matter-of-factly, “Dad, I don’t dream.” Case closed.

8. “You always keep your partner satisfied in bed” . . . oh wait, wrong quiz.

9. “You are a mom first and a friend second.” – ummmmmmm, well, I don’t think there’s a right way for me to answer this one.

10. “Your partner doesn’t know how you do it” – Well, I don’t have a partner, but I do often find myself talking to myself. “Hey self! How do you cook rice without it sticking to every appliance in the kitchen?” Gosh, I guess I really don’t know how he does that.

11. “You’ve stopped crying over spilled milk” – again, an easy fix. I just stopped buying milk.

Ok, seriously for a minute. I see this kind of stuff about moms, and I think to myself, “hey, that’s great. But where’s the stuff about dads? Where’s the info to check if you’re a great dad? Or the call for dads to be great?

Or, in some cases like mine, where’s the info on support for single dads – I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.

Sure it’s important for women to be the best moms they can be. But guys, it’s up to us to embrace the accountability and responsibility that comes with the role of being a father. We can do it. We can all do it. So let’s support the women in our lives who are the moms to our children. But let’s also support each other in a job that’s as equally hard as it is rewarding. Because when we do it right, we get a final criteria to check . . .

12. “But they always say I love you” – and those are words well worth working for.



  5 comments for “Am I doing this motherhood thing right?

  1. May 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Great post with a mix of silliness and serious messages. Dads are so very important in all households, and you are a great example. Your son is growing into a nice looking young man 😀

    • May 26, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you, Sammy. Seeing this single parenting issue from the other side has really been an experience. I think too often we just assign and assume roles without thinking them through.

  2. Susan
    May 27, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I was widowed just a few months before my son was born and have always wondered if I was “enough” for my son. I know that many more things are written about single mothers, but I think the anguish of being “enough” for our children is universal and not exclusive to single mothers or single fathers.

    Our lives have been filled with many failures. Introducing my son to a urinal comes to mind. Playing catch with him during the Little League years and hitting him in the head with the ball over and over. Never learning to throw the perfect spiral or bait a hook without gagging or teaching him to change the oil or the million other things that fathers do were a few of my failures. I was very lucky and he had a grandfather, uncle, and adopted grandfather who taught him many things, but nothing really takes the place of having a “Daddy”.

    It was just last week that I finally realized that I HAD been enough, and I continue to be “enough”. He walked across the stage to get his high school diploma and then stood there making his speech and I finally let go of the regrets. I somehow managed to raise a son who is respectful, intelligent, and loving. He graduated at the top of his class. He earned a full scholarship to college. Most importantly, he is happy and knows that he is loved unconditionally.

    I wasn’t perfect, but I was “enough”. (even if I still can’t throw a spiral)

    • May 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Susan, thank you so much for your post. I often wonder how I’m doing. And similar to you, I often feel like I fall well short of what I need to be doing. Did you ever find it so overwhelming that you felt like you were drowning in the day-to-day things? I just feel like I can never get everything done that needs to be done. But I’m encouraged to see your success, and to see that you survived it and your son is doing well. I really appreciate you sharing this with me.

  3. Susan
    May 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I felt like that almost every day. When he was little it was the day to day stuff that was the worst. I think it is because there was only one person to do the work of two people. I know that all parents are busy, but when there is no one to call and ask to pick up a loaf of bread the lack of bread can mean that my entire day crumbles. No bread for sandwiches means that I actually have to cook which means that I have to take time to actually shop for groceries which means that laundry will not get done again today which means that his uniform might be dirty for the game which means that…………… (you get the idea) The smallest detail was enough to send my entire life into turmoil. I won’t bore you will all of the details, but until her death last year I was the primary caretaker for my 99 year old grandmother. When you are caring for a loved one and also caring for a child, those small details tend to add up and become big problems.

    As he got older, the panic started coming from other things. He was driving and could pick up the bread, but that meant that I got to worry about other things. Was he driving too fast? Is his truck dependable? Is he dating that girl? Does he know how to treat her since he has not had a man to tell him how to treat a woman? What if he gets hurt playing sports? A MOM never goes onto the field or sidelines to check on her son. The dad does that. (at least that is how it works here) Oh no! He is talking about boosting the uptake on his truck. I have to run to the internet and do research so I know what the heck he is talking about! (yes, this actually happened)

    Although he is legally an adult now and I am proud of the man that he has became, I know I am not finished with the parent juggling act. There are days that I still feel overwhelmed with details. He will always be my baby. I will always be his mom. I will always worry about him, but I sweat the small stuff less and less. I worry about the bigger picture now. (and if you REALLY want to see a crazy women, come see me in August when he moves away to college) Ha!

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