Once I was a nice mommy. It was a long time ago, back before I had children. Back before I had three wonderful, creative, stubborn, strong-willed, determined children who would have eaten me alive had I not learned to stand firm. I had great plans before I had children. We were going to have a lot of fun. I was going to be a wonderful mother, understanding and kind, and I was going to teach my children to be thoughtful, caring people. But my life turned out differently. I learned that if my children were going to grow up to be nice people, I didn’t always have the luxury of being one myself. A nice mommy isn’t always the same thing as a good mommy.
A nice mommy wouldn’t make her child do work if he was tired. No homework or taking out the garbage or cleaning up his room. But a good mommy would make her child do it, even if he was tired. She’d know that if the work was important, it was important that he did it. If he was super-tired she might let him take a break first or do it tomorrow, but a good mommy would make sure he did the work he was supposed to do.
A nice mommy wouldn’t believe someone if they said her child had misbehaved; after all, she knows her child is a good kid. A good mommy knows that making bad choices is part of learning how to make good choices. If her child misbehaved, she’d view it as a chance for him to learn how to behave better next time.
A nice mommy thinks talking to her child about his bad behavior is sufficient to change it. A good mommy knows that discussions are an important part of the learning process, but if they’re not working, a good set of consequences might do the trick.
A nice mommy lets her child win arguments because she doesn’t want to be mean. A good mommy knows when to be flexible and when to be an authority figure. After all, if he doesn’t learn to respect authority, he’ll never be able to hold a job when he grows up and he might end up in jail.
A nice mommy always puts her child’s feelings above her own. A good mommy knows her child needs to learn to respect other people’s feelings or he’ll never have friends.
A nice mommy doesn’t want anyone to ever say anything negative to her child about his abilities. A good mommy knows that the only way someone can improve themselves is if they have an accurate idea of both their strengths and weaknesses.
A nice mommy doesn’t want to hear bad things about her child. A good mommy doesn’t like it either, but she listens because she knows she can’t help him if she doesn’t face his difficulties.
A nice mommy wants her child always to be happy. A good mommy wants her child to be happy too, but knows that sometimes building his character is more important.
A nice mommy makes sure her child is always fully supported. A good mommy tries to balance support with teaching her child independence.
A nice mommy wants her child to never fail. A good mommy knows in order to grow sometimes you have to risk failure.
A nice mommy believes her child’s disabilities are an excuse for poor behavior; that it’s not his fault because he has autism. A good mommy knows her child’s disabilities make it harder for him to behave, and that sometimes that means he’s going to have to work harder to learn to behave.
A nice mommy thinks everyone should be nice to her child because he has a disability. A good mommy wishes everyone would be nice, but she knows the world isn’t like that so she has to teach her child how to survive anyway.
Nice mommies think “to advocate for your child” means fighting for your child. Good mommies know sometimes it means fighting for your child, sometimes it means fighting with your child, and sometimes it means fighting your own instincts.
Nice mommies are trying to make their children’s lives easier. Good mommies know that the real world is tough, and the more skills their child has by the time they’re grown, the easier their life will be.
Nice mommies love their child. Good mommies do too.
Lord, please give me the strength to be a good mommy.