The Measure of a Good Mother

By Nicole Hardy

There are many times I wonder if I’m a good mother. It’s when I won’t let my 10-year-old daughter roam the block with her friends because the world doesn’t resemble the place from my childhood. Or when I coddle my 3-year-old after she takes a tumble instead of brushing off the dirt. It’s when I don’t prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal for dinner and pick up fast food instead. It’s on those days when I don’t know if I’m coming or going; if I bought the right colored t-shirt for field day; if today is school pictures (Lord, I hope not); and worst of all, when my children are furiously shouting “NO FAIR!” because I stifled their creativity to save my sanity (and the bedroom carpets) by banning Play-Doh from the house again.

Then I start to wonder if somewhere down the road I’ve done something right. I know there isn’t a perfect recipe for parenting, but I try to prepare the best ingredients even if I come up a little short.

Unfortunately, one morning I couldn’t give my best or barely even get up at all. I was flat-out sick. It wasn’t headaches, stomachaches or puking because (thanks to pregnancy) I can run right through that like a champ. It was the flu, and it was brutal.

My limbs were shivering and sweating simultaneously. Aches and pains were gnawing at my bones, and my head was pounding so hard I held my eyes shut, hoping the throbbing would disappear. I just wanted to flood my bloodstream with Vitamin C and Nyquil and sleep the day away.

But it was a Tuesday and my day had just begun.

My 10-year-old daughter, Alex, was searching the house for her usually over-tired mom who shows up in the kitchen around 7:00 am with coffee in hand, mumbling about the annoying alarm clock. But I wasn’t there. An unplanned game of hide-and-seek ensued until she spotted me wrapped up in my white comforter like a mummy in a tomb. She carefully peered into my covers and said, “What in the world?” And with a raspy voice I replied, “Mommy is very sick today.” Then her eyes widened, and she rushed back to the kitchen. I wasn’t sure if she was upset with me for not making breakfast, and I didn’t have the energy to find out.

She came back in my room, juggling a tray full of items to share with me. She held up a thermometer and scanned it across my forehead, then gently covered my clammy skin with a cool, wet washcloth. She leaned forward, offering me a large cup of cold water wobbling in her hands and told me, “Sip slowly.” She gave me a bottle of Tylenol to open because she never plays with medicine. Then she untucked my wrinkled pajamas draping half my shoulder, kissed my cheek and told me everything would be okay.

She walked out of my room and into her sister’s. I heard her say, “Mommy doesn’t feel well today. Arms up. Step in. Come with me.” I heard the pitter patter of feet going across hardwood floors. I heard the slamming of the refrigerator door and the toaster pop. I listened to zippers sliding, toilets flushing and the yanking sounds of a brush tugging through knotted tresses. I heard water dripping and spit hitting the sink. And I heard “Shhhs” and “Hurries” galore.

Alex peeked in my room, asking, “Mom, can I borrow your phone?” I nodded yes. Within minutes, the doorbell rang, and I opened my eyes to a beautiful smile and the sounds of my daughter’s sweet voice telling me, “You only have to take Elle to school today, okay?”

I forced myself out of bed, then saw a car in my driveway with a familiar face and long, brown, curly hair behind the wheel. It was my neighbor from three doors down who has become one of my best friends and my savior on many occasions when I’ve needed a helping hand. She smiled and waved hello.  Then Alex hopped in the passenger seat, blew me a kiss goodbye, and mouthed the words, “I love you.” My heart got caught in my throat as I blew a kiss back at her and whispered, “Love you, too.” All of a sudden I felt a tug on my pajamas; Elle was standing by the front door with her backpack hanging on her shoulders. “Time to take me to school, Mama,” she said.

No amount of Tylenol, orange juice or Nyquil could have made me feel better than that morning itself because I learned something special: I am a good mom. And I’ve done some pretty important things right.

I’ve taught my daughter how to care for others simply by caring for her. I’ve shown her how to help a person when they aren’t feeling well and how soft words and a gentle touch can ease the pain. I’ve encouraged her to embrace the role of being a big sister, allowing her to care for, guide and protect her littler sister in life’s many moments. I’ve taught her to be self-sufficient and resourceful and to take the lead when she is on her own.  I’ve also taught her it’s okay to ask for help from others when she needs it most. And more importantly, I’ve taught her the beauty of family and how no matter who is leading the pack, we always ban together to help each other out.

Everything doesn’t always measure up perfectly in a mom’s world, but it’s important to remember that if we do our best, life always comes out just right.


About the Author

Nicole Hardy is a 40ish-year-old mom of two, obsessed with coffee, her children and her hair. After 14 years in Corporate America, she’s ditched her cubicle for her calling, and launched her blog: She Emerges. She’s finding herself, feeding her soul, and baby she’s emerging! Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.