When I was a young mother, older ladies would sometimes come up to coo over my babies at the grocery store or church. They would always ask, “Is he (she) a good baby?” What they were really asking is, “Does he sleep a lot?” When my children were a little older and I went to Parent/Teacher Conferences, I soon learned that when a teacher said, “________ is a good student,” what they really meant is, they can do math and they don’t talk too much. In my motherhood career, I have also learned that “being a good mother” means that your children have matched socks, folded in a sock drawer and they only eat frozen pizza when a babysitter is involved.
Good, I am now learning, can be broadened to include a few more things in life. For example, my friend Karsten was faced, a year ago, with the decision to totally give up and do something I don’t even want to think about or to “bite the bullet” and pay back to society with some very stringent strings attached. Every time I look out the window and see his car permanently parked in my driveway, while he runs to catch a bus or watch him rake my yard on a cold, Sunday morning after working all week at his job, to earn money for his insane fines, it warms my heart and I think “Karsten, you are such a good man.”
I just received a thank you letter from a lady who had been given a copy of my book. She was so appreciative. She said, “I am eighty-five years old, I was never a very good mother but I am so trying to make it up to my kids at this late time in my life.” Mothers always judge themselves harshly so who knows what was meant by that, but she is obviously still trying to be a good mother.
Our society places so much emphasis on good grades, good credit scores and good appearances that we sometimes forget the most important thing is a good heart and simply trying a little harder next time when we screw up. And what a silly question--”Is he a good baby?” As if there was ever a “bad” baby. In fact, has there ever been a “bad” kid at all? I have met a lot of freethinking, rebellious, individualistic, bright, creative, push the envelope kids but, I have yet to meet one that I would call “bad.” However, I talked to Zac yesterday. He had just got off the phone with a spanish speaking lady at the traffic school. He asked her, “Do I need to bring anything and what should I expect?” She said, “Just bring yourself and we will make you a good person again.” So if I do run into one of those bad kids, now I know where to send them!