How to be a “Good Mother” – by Someone with No Clue

I wrote this piece 4 years ago when Tyler was one year old for Prestige magazine. They said write about anything – it’s a column meant to provoke thought, an opinion piece. I decided to write about my then-struggle with motherhood. I found this story in my hard drive, and thought it was still very relevant today; there’s no perfect version of motherhood, only your best version of it. Everyone is different, and so is everyone’s version of motherhood. Let’s not judge others, we don’t know their backstories. Here’s mine.

I spent my early childhood wishing I were a boy. Two of four girls, I never liked playing with dolls or dressing up. I was the kid on roller skates chasing cars with scraped knees, fishing in the drain, building a rocket out of cardboard boxes. Life was wild and wonderful.

In my teens I was the dreamer, forgetting schoolbooks, writing stories and spending too much time in school corridors, banished by irate teachers. I wished I was a boy, they seemed to have more fun.

In my 20s, I tried to toe the line, got my first job, learned to dress like a girl, talk and act like a girl. But I never really could think like my peers, there was always a streak of the renegade I could not shake.

In my 30s, entrepreneurship was a marvelous thrill. All those traits that made me a poor student and a rebellious worker, were the very strengths that made me a dauntless entrepreneur. I excelled in creative pitches, in the field of large-scale event management, where my competitors were all boys. I clicked joyfully through boardrooms in high heels, smiling past the all-boy teams who would say, “Oh no, its her.” I loved the chase and the hunt. I loved the win, and to beat the boys at their game. I was fearless, taking on the ambitious projects that others said would fail. And I was good at it.

The company evolved, the team grew, we won accounts and awards, and we thrived. And then I had a baby.

Life stood still.

Are we expected to unlearn the fast pace of warfare that is modern-day business? The boys did not need to change when they started families, they carried on without pause. But I stopped dead in my tracks – for a moment that seemed an eternity, while I contemplated the confounding dilemma of motherhood.

It is true, that being a business owner granted me the flexibility to build my time and schedule around my son. Yet that was not the greatest stumbling block that stood in the way of blissful motherhood.

The truth was, I did not know how to be a good mother. The very qualities that made me a bold entrepreneur were the very traits that stood in direct conflict with good, responsible motherhood.To be nurturing and motherly, which seemed to come so easily to my sisters and girlfriends, seemed in fact, to stand in such opposition to everything else I was or had come to be in my 40 years before motherhood.

I adore my son – everything about him, every hair on his spiky little head, to his round cheeks, bright eyes and chubby small toes. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone or anything. But I only wanted to play with him. My husband shakes his head, and tells me that just playing with him, taking my one year old on fun and adventurous outings does not count as spending quality time with him.

I cannot put him to sleep, he wants to play when he sees me, and runs crazily from one end of his cot to the other laughing like a manic monkey. I could not see why I should not delegate tasks like diaper changing or feeding – I cannot name one person who can remember a single time someone changed their diaper. Strategic outsourcing and task-delegation are just two key things you learn in business leadership.

In time, I overcame the guilt and accepted that I was never going to be very good at conventional motherhood. No one has it all, nobody is perfect, and motherhood will be an individual journey that we should not judge others for. I am always going to march to the beat of a different drum, and it is what I believe will make me an amazing mother when my son is older.

I will draw and tell him stories, we can ride roller coasters on Tuesdays, catch tadpoles in drains, chase cars in roller skates and build rockets out of cardboard boxes. I will teach him to be brave and fearless, he will love life and adventure. My little renegade will march to the beat of his own drum.

One day, hopefully, he will meet a woman who clicks joyfully through a boardroom in high heels, and he will say, “Oh yes, it’s her!”

And they live happily ever after, raising my unconventional, renegade grandchildren.