Have you ever wondered if you're a good mom?
If so, you’re certainly not alone. I know I have asked myself quietly (and others more overtly) this question many times in these early years of parenting.
There is a lot of talk on social media these days about what it takes to be a “good mom.” Most of the messages are well-intentioned in nature, with the goal of helping moms release shame about things like feeding their children hotdogs, letting them have a little extra screen time on the hard days, or even things like postpartum depression symptoms.
I have seen countless Reels that could be named, “still a good mom,” with the phrase being the leading message. The hashtag #goodmom is attached to nearly 80,000 posts. “Good mom” is a top Google Search, with questions like “how to be a good mom,” and “how do you know if you’re a good mom” being questions people are frequently typing into the search engine–maybe, even… that’s how you landed here.
And before I get a little controversial here, let me be clear–
No, I believe that anything that calls us “bad moms” is inappropriate, because judgements of what’s truly “bad” are always based on someone’s subjective understanding of good and bad.
But we can use the flip side of this logic as well–who are we (or you) to determine goodness or badness in someone’s mothering?
My response to all of these Reels assuring us mothers that we are “still good moms” isn’t comfort. I don’t breathe a sigh of relief when I receive those messages… Instead I find myself asking, “How do you know?”
Humans have a desperate desire to be “good.” We crave for someone to tell us we are good wives, good moms, good friends.. The problem with this, though, is that humans are horrendous judges of goodness and badness–and we always have been.
Let’s travel back to the beginning of time–Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when God asked his precious creation to trust His definitions of Good and Bad.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17
God knew that we would be tempted to hold this definition for ourselves, and so he invited Adam to trust Him instead of giving into his temptation. And it wasn’t just a trap to lure Adam into… God knew that if man decided to take hold of this responsibility, to start defining good and evil on our own terms, it would be the sure beginning of our spiritual death.
And yet, still, generation after generation we continue to find ourselves stuck in the loop of eating the same fruit that Adam and Eve did.
Lately, our society has tried to take strides to move away from shame-based narratives. In other words, we’re sinking our teeth less into over-defining “evil.” But because we’re humans, and still defining these terms based on our subjective experience, we’ve still failed to accept the truth about goodness and badness.
It’s not ours to define.
Jesus made this quite clear when the rich young ruler called Jesus a “good teacher.” Of all of the people who we pretty confidently could have labeled as “good,” Jesus definitely tops my list. It’s clear that this young man saw something unique in Jesus, too–something other than what he was seeing from other religious leaders of the day. He saw what he defined as “good.”
But part of Jesus’ spiritual perfection lies in this moment–the antithesis of Adam and Eve’s Genesis 3 choice–he chooses to point this young man toward trust in his good Father as the one and only true arbiter of goodness.
Instead of just accepting the ruler’s judgement of good, Jesus challenges him to see beyond his own perception into the root of this perceived goodness. And as the young ruler’s eyes are opened to see that Jesus’ goodness is supplied by the goodness of God, we find the shortcomings of human definitions of good.
On our own, we can’t possibly imagine or define the height, width, breadth of goodness. There’s a limit to what we can define as good. No matter how much we admire, desire, and seek after goodness, at some point our own sinfulness will block us from understanding the true definition of “good.”
So, what does this mean about being a good mom?
This is the first post in a series I’m going to be offering titled, “Good mom.”
Together, we’ll unpack Biblical study and real life experience, and we’ll figure out what to do with our yearning questions about being good moms to our beautiful children.
But while we wait to unpack this, I’ll leave us with this charge:
Instead of continuing the Genesis 3 cycle, let’s be true disciples of Jesus and change the narrative about defining goodness and badness.
For a while, let’s take “good” and “bad” out of our flawed and human conversation, and let’s talk instead about how we move toward the God of all grace in our motherhood.
And as we move through this, if you have something to share or even a question to ask, I would love to hear from you. This is an active and dynamic conversation I’m wanting to have with you–so shoot me an email, leave a comment, or find me on Instagram and let’s chat! I can’t wait to share more about what the Lord’s been placing on my heart.