Motherhood. Successful???



30 years ago during an ‘ice breaker’ activity I was asked a question; “If you could do anything in the world and it was guaranteed you would be 100% successful at it, what would you do?” - At the ripe age of 19, I replied without hesitation, ‘Be a mom.’


Being a mom is the only ‘thing’ I can ever remember truly wanting to do in life. After losing my mom at 14, I had a gaping hole in my heart that craved to be filled, yet I had zero idea how to do the one thing my heart desired most. So here I am, 23 years in to my career as ‘mom’ and about to launch my last bird from the nest, I often think about that ‘ice breaker’ question 19 year old me was asked.


What exactly does 'success' as a mom look like? 


I think we can all agree that generally our goal as mothers/parents is to raise good, productive citizens of the world. However, our measure of success in doing so often looks very different. 


How do you define success as a parent?


Is it raising a child that uses manners, writes thank you notes, and knows how to speak to adults?

Is it raising a child who believes, votes, worships, and thinks similarly to you?

Is it teaching your children good character, integrity, and work ethic?

Is it raising a child who goes on to work in a lucrative career?

Is it having a child who finishes school with a 4.ridiculousness GPA?

Is it having a child who is mentally healthy, physically strong, and spiritually sound?

Is it having a child who successfully launches and doesn’t live in your basement until they are 38?

Is their happiness, or lack of, a direct reflection on your capabilities as a mother?

In theory, we are all probably reading this saying, “Oh No…No…these things don’t measure the success of a mom.” BUT let’s take the filter off here, isn’t this how we judge other mothers? How we look at what their kids are doing compared to ours? And probably more truthful, how we judge ourselves as moms as we travel our journey of motherhood? How many times have you had ‘a day’ and are feeling beaten up, defeated, and as if you are failing, and then you see a mom or a kid who is struggling a bit more than you are and you feel the slightest sense of relief that sounds an awful lot like, ‘Whew…well at least I’m not doing that.’ 

Sometimes we are a harsh and judgy group of people. It’s true. We just are and it’s ok, we are also human. 

There is a lot of reflection in this ‘bird launching’ season of motherhood I am in right now and I find myself asking all the questions: 

Did I create a home where they felt safe and loved?

Do they know how to fill out all the forms at the doctor’s office?

Can they change a tire?

Balance a checkbook?

Did I get them the help they need?

Are our communication lines open and honest?

Do they know how to put out a fire if one starts on the stove?

Was I someone they can be proud to call their mom?

Do they know not to put their delicates in the dryer?

Did I give them a good example of how to love others?

Did I celebrate them and their accomplishments?

Can they make their favorite meal?

Do they know their value?

Did I pray enough?

Will they ever remember to wear a dang coat?

Will they choose to call? Choose to visit? 

Will they choose me now that they are adults?

Does my definition of success as a Mom = answering YES to any or all of the above questions? What if No is the answer to most of the above? Does that mean I have failed as a mother?

One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Behind every great kid is a Mom pretty sure she’s screwing it all up.’

I believe this is one of the most authentic quotes about motherhood. Mom guilt is a real thing and I do not know a single woman who has not felt this way at some point in her journey, possibly even daily at times. Being a Mom is hard as hell! There are hundreds of thousands of books, blogs, articles, and advice for us moms, but none of them give you the perfect step by step guide on how to do it 100% ‘right’. We bring our own experiences, culture, past hurts, and successes into our book of motherhood. Then as we write our chapters, life happens. We lose someone we love. We face financial hardships. Maybe our marriage fails, or we have unexpected health challenges. All of a sudden those 'someday moments' have passed, dreams we had for our kids don't look the way we thought they would, and all we see are unmet expectations for ourselves. Each and every thing that life throws at us affects the way we parent. AND rather than extend grace to ourselves and others…we judge ourselves…we compare our path to others...we feel tremendous guilt…and we face feelings of failure, shame, and defeat. 

I don’t know how to stop these feelings. I don’t have some magical wand or inspirational quote to stop you from feeling these things along the way, but I think it helps to know that you are not the only one who feels this way. 

If I were to be honest with myself, I want the ceiling of my motherhood to be my daughters' floor. But if that were true then I would have to admit my journey isn't perfect and there are improvements my kids will have to make in order to build up from my ceiling. Isn't that what we try to do? I took the wonderful things my mom implemented in her 14 years of motherhood and I included them in my own story AND then I added, built on, and tweaked those little nuggets based on what path our lives took and the obstacles that we encountered along the way.


Let's redefine what we call success in terms of being a mom. Maybe success looks like day 3 without a shower, but your kids have been fed, cared for, and you've watched 4 seasons of Paw Patrol...twice. Maybe success doesn't look like a page from the Pottery Barn kids catalog because you cut back on your hours so you could make it to all their games. Maybe success looks like asking for help, seeing a therapist, or seeking treatment because there are just some things we can't carry alone.


So on the hard days and in the hard seasons, give yourself grace. Give others that same grace. Know that you are doing the best you can with what you have for the season you are in and sometimes it's good to leave room for improvement. Keep putting one foot in front of the other…even if it’s the tiniest of baby steps and on the days you don’t have the strength to take even that tiny step…it’s ok to just be where you are. 

What’s the biggest worry you are facing as a Mom in this season? 

Are you your biggest critic?

What does success in motherhood look like to you?

I’d love to hear your bravely vulnerable thoughts and struggles. Do you have any advice? What has worked for you?


  • Cee Kay

    Wow, so many thoughts came rushing in to my mind as I read this authentic description of motherhood. How can we ever adequately sum it up when there’s so much there? I’m currently in the stage of motherhood where my boys are the ones making other mothers feel better lol, because they’re often quite obnoxious in public, even though they should know better. I’m definitely my own worst critic on that, feeling embarrassment & shame that I can’t get them to listen or stop being rowdy. I feel judged by everyone that sees or hears us. What you said about adjusting our expectations is so real it hurts. I’m not the mother I thought I would be, but also how could I have known what kind of kids I was gonna get? We’re all working with what we’ve got, even if we aren’t ‘easy.’ It’s funny how you can grieve the loss of something that only existed in your mind. I’m learning to let go of those expectations every day, but it’s not easy. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. ❤️

  • Jam

    Motherhood, like life, is a roller coaster. Sometimes you just have to hang on and do your best to realize in order to get to the highs you have to survive the lows. We got this Momma.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published. We don't allow trolls, bots, or mean comments.