How to know if you’re a good mother

Boy in a backpackWhen I was a first-time mum at home with a new bub I was adrift. I’d gone from a full-time full-on job with lots of contact with other people to – well – nothing. I was the first of my set to have a baby, my husband worked full time, I didn’t have a lot of contact with my neighbours. I was, in short, lonely.

How lonely?

I went to the health nurse every week, religiously. Even though my baby was perfectly healthy. Even though I had no problems looking after him, the breastfeeding happened.

I only stopped when she kindly said one day “You know, you don’t have to come every week. You’re doing a good job.”

That day as I walked back home pushing my son in his stroller, I reflected on how dependant I’d become on this regular weekly outing. How much I needed an independent witness to my motherhood. How much I needed that witness to tell me I was doing a good job.

I hadn’t had any contact with babies before apart from fleeting glimpses of other people’s babes. I wasn’t the maternal type. I didn’t yearn to pick up and cuddle them. I was the type of person who handed the baby back or on at the earliest opportunity and now here I was the 24/7 carer of this little human unit.

With no frame of reference – how was I to know if he was okay? If I was okay? If I was a good mother?

A fine womanI owe this child nurse a great deal.

Happily last year I met her again. She’s retired now. I wished I’d had my little baby with me to show her that he survived into teenagerhood. But of course there was no need. She had enough faith in me to know he’d be okay.

13 Replies to “How to know if you’re a good mother”

  1. A good mother has a loving relationship with her child; her unique personality (and its inherent strengths and weaknesses) and I do think that you are one. You don’t have to worry about that. By the way, cute baby you have there. 🙂

  2. You were lucky to find such a lovely woman at your clinic – the woman at mine was an absolute dragon and I just stopped going after a while. But I had my wonderful mother in law to tell me, every day, that she thought I was amazing and doing a great job. I became quite dependent on her support as I was getting only advice and I-used-to-do-it-this-way from my own mother.

    All new mothers need copious quantities of unbridled love and support and positive reinforcement because there’s nothing like being a new mum, totally unsure of what you’re doing or how you even got there.

    That’s a great photo of you and your son!

  3. Hey CB,
    I love it when you tell an emotive story like that.
    Thank you.
    I fell like I ‘know’ you a bit better and in reading that post, I don’t feel so cruddy posting my own emotions.

  4. I remember visits to the baby clinic and the pinched face, pursed mouth sister telling me not to do this or that, but not saying much at all about what I should be doing. I was in Brisbane with my entire family in S.A. so didn’t have mum or mum-in-law close by. So sister whatshername would be telling me I could start my baby on solids soon and I’d be saying but she’s already been eating weetbix for a month…….After a few extra weeks I realised I was only going for the weigh in and since I could see T growing and progressing I stopped going.

  5. Cibol – thank you, he’s still pretty cute. 🙂

    Trish – I totally agree – we should make it our mission to positively reinforce every mother we see!

    S-Mom – she didn’t think I’d recognise her… ha!

    Tiff – thank you – and your blog is so heartfelt I selfishly never want you to stop.

    River – Good on you for believing in yourself – I needed someone else to do it for me.

  6. When my daughter was born in Singapore, we were lucky, because we had a health visitor who I had been to High School in Scotland. She was very blunt and as it happened, Hannah was very sick. We were very lucky to have access to a western paediatrician. Hannah spent a week in hospital and now that she is nine I can appreciate the value of great care early in a childs life. Lucky us. Lucky Hannah. The Singaporean Paediatrician (we had to use her early on because we were in Singapore) thought that the fact that she was very red was a sign of health. Turns out it could have killed her. Scary.

  7. Dear Cellobella,
    I’m in your shoe now. From a all-packed-career to a full-time stay at home first time mother. My plight is exactly the same as yours. Never touched any baby before my little girl arrived. Not even carrying a baby. You’re luckier than me. At least you have someone to support you. I have no one (health advisor is non exist here) and I’m in a foreign country. Though I have lived and worked here for 10 years, but it’s so different from calling it as your home country. I still feel alien.
    But I’m coping well with my girl. She’s growing up healthy and cheerful every minute of her life. I feel very contended and blissed. To add to my blessing, my girl has a very good daddy. He can do everything, from bathing her to feeding her. To me, I’m still lonely. It will be 12 hours after he leaves home to work before he reaches home. I have no relative here. Only my in-laws which seldom in touch.
    So do appreciate everyone who is beside you. Good day.

  8. I can totally relate. I boarded the mommy-train at age 40 after a life-long full dedication to my career. I have always wanted to be a mom because it seemed like my life would not be complete unless I tried it – kind of like when I scaled the 14,000 + foot peak in Colarado. Well, nobody told me how vague it can be. I mean – no feedback whatsoever! I too alone am here – moved from Chicago US, to Perth with my new husband to start a new life and a family. Hes a Perth man but with a v. small family who is great but not my family – very different cultural backgrounds. Anyway, low and behold I started the mommy thing with a bang – Twins! I gave birth two two beautiful healthy identical twins girls (no IVF) and have not had more than 3 hours sleep in a row since (they are 18 months). And I am expecting our third child in September. Are we nuts, probably. I am chronically exhausted, and that’s not something I stand for easily, being an (ex?) runner of more than 20 races and generally fit person. This is starting to sound like a brag sheet and its not meant to be. I am just saying that all that I was seems to have become lost in a haze of nappies, bottles, baths, wiping noses, and now dodging food that’s being rejected. We still have fun but I have no idea at all if I am doing anything right. Its the most terrifyingly rewarding exhausting challenging thing I have ever done in my life! I am seeing a councellor to help me with things (Americans have no problem seeing shrinks!) and she told me don’t worry about doing everything right, just love them and enjoy the time you have with them. She’s right, of course, but that doesn’t help when they both decide throwing cups of water on your head at bathtime is the funniest thing ever! Ahhhh… I could keep writing forever but I better sign off. I wish I could get together for a cuppa with all of you but none of us has time so we’re left with blogging at 10 PM. Cheers and give those gorgeous little cheeks plenty of kisses from the one who is the best – you- their mother!

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