Family life

Why I'm a great mom

After admitting to some parental shortcomings, Tracy's decided to focus on her strengths. What are yours?

By Tracy Chappell
Why I'm a great mom Tracy with Avery and Anna.

I sometimes think it must be terrible for my poor kids that they don’t have a mom who is more fashionable, worldly or sews kick-ass Halloween costumes. But we all have our strengths. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we’re all paired up with our kids for a reason, and it’s to share our unique gifts and learn from each other. That doesn’t mean I never need to change, or grow, or learn and try new things — of course I do. And of course, my kids will too.
I saw a quote recently that went something along the lines of: “The cure for insecurity is to realize that you’re comparing your behind-the-scenes footage with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Love that. It’s so true. We can all be a little hard on ourselves, especially when it comes to parenting, focusing on the things we wish we were instead of patting ourselves on the back for all the great things we are.

Really, until they’re older, our kids have no idea we might not be the most fabulous moms and dads on earth. So why not believe it too, for as long as we can?
I wish I were a better cook (so my kids become great cooks), that I knew how to sew, was more physically fit and could be more patient. I yell too much, and my kids probably watch too much TV (and they definitely fight too much). But really, I do think I'm a good mom. I’m pretty sure that you are, too.
Here are three things I think Sean and I do well as parents:

  • We read to our kids: Every night, no fail (unless movie night runs late) and our kids completely count on this as part of their bedtime ritual. They love books, and I couldn’t be happier about that. They look at books in the car, even if we’re not going far. They love going to the library. Anna’s favourite school day is library day. In fact, when Anna needs to put in time (or is having a rough day) she will get a stack of books off her shelf and sit in her room and flip through them. I’ve also heard Avery do this in the morning when she gets up too early. Now that Anna’s getting older, we read chapter books to her and I hope she’ll want to share those adventures with us for a long, long time.
  • We talk (and listen): I think we’ve set up an environment at home where our kids feel that their voices matter and are heard. My goal here is to ensure that they always, always know that we are here for them, that they can come to us with anything, even if it’s something they’re not proud of. It also helps us understand what they need from us, which is often just someone to listen (and that’s not always easy!). Keeping lines of communication open is going to be so important as they get older, and I hope we’re building a lasting foundation now. I do this thing with the kids at bedtime where I ask what their “high” and “low” of the day was (I heard this on CBC Kids) and hearing about the best and not-so-great moments of their day gives me additional insight into what they like to do, who they play with, or a problem they may have had trouble dealing with. It’s another way of discovering the people they’re becoming and what happens during the time they spend away from us.
  • We do stuff together. We’re very involved in the kids’ lives. We both go to their hockey games; we go on fun outings as a family and expose the kids to new experiences; we decorate our house for holidays; we have dinner together most nights; we do homework together; we play games; we talk about our days. We have lots of family traditions that we all look forward to. Sean and I definitely do “divide and conquer” when needed, but mostly, we're happy to hang out together. I hope, above all, that’s what my kids will remember of their growing up and that they'll look back fondly on all the things their parents were, not the things we weren't.

Are your kids environmental crusaders? Have you taught them a love of a sport, instrument or something else you’re passionate about? Do you give the best hugs or make the best lentil soup in the world? Use this space to share what makes you an awesome parent.

This article was originally published on Oct 18, 2012

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