With mother’s day approaching, I want to celebrate all the good moms out there. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What makes a good mom?” Well, to me, a good mom is a mom who is trying to do her best. No mom is perfect but when they are trying, they are almost perfect because effort and caring is what we all want, deserve, and need. When I think about what makes my own mother such a good mom, it is because she makes me feel loved through all of her actions and words. She doesn’t do and say every single thing right but no one does. My mom is a good mom because she is there day after day, showing me she cares. Listening to me. Talking to me. Sharing her life with me. Offering advice. Letting me turn it down! Asking my advice. Feeling free to ignore it! Making me laugh. Laughing with me. Loving me. And letting me love her back. For this mother’s day, I want to honor not only my own mom but all good moms. So go ahead moms, pat yourself on the back! I also have a guest author with more advice on how to be a good mom. See if you recognize yourself or your own mother in her descriptions!
What Is A Good Mom?
Today, I would like to share some excellent advice on how to be a good mom from author, Meredith Jacobs. She knows a lot about how to a good mom! She is the proud mother of daughter Sofie, who is her co-conspirator in all things Just Between Us, and son Jules, who will commission as a Navy officer in May. Her newest book is JUST BETWEEN US MOTHER & DAUGHTER (Chronicle Books, April 13, 2021). Co-written by mother-daughter duo Meredith and Sofie Jacobs, it is a thoughtful, hands-on keepsake designed to cultivate a deeper understanding, communication, and respect between mothers and daughters.
Meredith Jacobs is also the CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI), a 125-year-old organization with a mission to empower women and girls. She works closely with JWI’s philanthropic partners, Sigma Delta Tau national sorority and Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity, developing initiatives like the award-winning Green Light, Go! and Girls Achieve GrΣΔΤness. Jacobs is an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Washington Jewish Week. She is also the author of The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate—Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal (HarperCollins). As you can see, she has a lot of qualifications to offer advice on how to be a good mom! Without further ado, I am so glad to share with you her guest post.
How To Be There For Your Kids Through Every Life Phase
by Meredith Jacobs
It feels like forever since I’ve written a post about just being a mom. Now that I’m in my early 50s and my kids are 22 and 24, it’s strange to put back on that advice hat. And, I can tell you, it gets so much easier! All that hard work you’re putting in now, when the kiddos are younger, pays off when they turn into amazing young adults, who you not only like, you admire. Oh, and did I mention, you get to do things like make cheese boards and cocktails with them (yes, cocktails).
Funny, at the same time it feels like forever ago, it also feels like yesterday. I so clearly remember how much I looked up to the moms who raised incredible young people. Talking to these wise women, who were only one or two steps ahead of me, was how I started on my own parenting writer journey. So, I guess I’m now that slightly older mom. And, I hope whatever I did along the way, might help those of you who are deep in it now.
You Never Stop Being A Mom
All that said, I must admit that you never stop being a mom. Never stop worrying. Never stop trying to fix things and smooth paths. Never stop wanting to hear from them, meet their friends, know their life is okay and they are happy. If anything, being the mom to two 20somethings has helped me better understand my mom. I don’t get as annoyed when she complains that I haven’t called enough. In fact, I make a point of calling more regularly now.
The Best Parenting Tip
But, even though I just spent three paragraphs writing about the wisdom of other moms, it was my daughter Sofie, who gave me my best parenting tip. When she was 9, she asked if she could write in a journal and if I would read it and write back to her. I mean, amazing, right!?! What an incredible gift! Not only was my daughter letting me READ her journal, she wanted me to respond. (Of course, it wasn’t her actual, super private journal. This was a new one she created specifically to share with me.) But, writing back and forth strengthened our relationship. It let her share things she wanted to talk to me about but felt too awkward to speak. Everything from that first crush on a boy in math class, to mean girls, to puberty — all those things we all go through.
What I learned from the experience of journaling with Sofie was that I actually listened better when I read. I have a terrible habit of interrupting people when I think I know what they are about to say and I want to swoop in to solve the problem. Trouble is, sometimes our kids don’t want us swooping in with answers. They want to be heard. Fully. So, through our journal, Sofie was able to write everything she wanted to say without my interrupting. And, I got to be more thoughtful when I answered.
Long story short, that journal turned into a journal other mothers and daughters can share (based on the one we shared). In fact, it turned into a series of journals — for mothers and daughters; grandmothers and granddaughters; sisters, mothers and sons (I also have a son), and now, a new mother-daughter journal, that has stickers and note cards and stencils, and is…adorable.
What We Can Do With Our Kids
Scarlet asked me to share ideas of what we can do with our kids. And, I thought about how important that is right now (of course, it’s always important, but now more than ever). I think about parenting during the pandemic. I’ve helped Sofie navigate the loss of her dream job — the one she worked so hard to get. And, I’ve helped my son navigate the loss of his final year and a half of college. As much as I’ve treasured this time with him, I would have rather he had a senior year at school. And that graduation and his Naval commissioning (he’s Navy ROTC) would be celebrated with his fraternity brothers and battalion friends, and not on yet another Zoom. I know all of our children, 22 months to 22 years, are all struggling right now and how we want to be there for them.
Before my son, Jules, and I started writing Just Between Us: mother-son journal, I asked him what, if anything, his father and I did right. Without hesitating, he said, “You cared about the things I cared about. You did things with me.” He was right. I always made a point of spending time with my children (I just loved that he noticed.) Whether it was watching cartoons and movies together, or visiting the zoo several times a week to see the baby elephant, who was “his best friend” (he was a little boy then), or driving 20 hours round trip in a weekend to take him to a lacrosse tournament in another state, I made a point of being there and learning about the things they cared about.
I remember once Jules asked me how I knew so much about dinosaurs (again, he was little when he asked this). I reminded him that I was the one who read him all the dinosaur books when he was too little to read. And, that I was the one who took him to the museums and dinosaur shows and laid on the floor to play with dinosaur figurines and shared his outrage when someone referred to a brontosaurus, when there was no such dinosaur — it was actually a brachiosaurus.
I know I joked earlier about making cocktails, but this was a natural transition from all the times I cooked and baked with my kids. From braiding bread dough and decorating cakes and even trying to grow vegetables (never worked because I quickly lost interest in watering).
We listened to music and did arts and crafts. We read books together — Harry Potter and Twilight. We ran errands together (often stopping for a treat). And, I made a point of getting tickets for events or knowing if something was on tv that related to something they cared about. And, I listened to when they told me about a project or after school activity they were involved with or even something they were trying out and I remembered to ask about it and be there for important (and even not so important moments).
Let Them Know That They Are Valued
So, if I could give you advice, it’s be there. Be there. Listen. Remember. When we show our children that what they care about is important to us, it lets them know that they are valued — that their thoughts and dreams and opinions matter to us and are worth listening to.
The funny thing is, when we show our children that we want to listen, they start talking.
Thanks again to Meredith Jacobs for the advice on how to be a good mom. Be sure to check out her book!