A Good (Enough) Moment

By Diane Stark

A Good (Enough) Moment

“Nathan, be careful when you open that,” I cautioned my five-year-old son – three seconds too late.

“Uh oh,” Nathan said, holding an empty chicken nugget box and pointing to his lunch, which was now on the floor. He grimaced. “Sorry, Mommy.”

I sighed and bit my tongue. I’d just picked Nathan up from preschool and had a million errands to run. I knew he’d behave better on a full tummy, so we’d stopped for what I’d hoped would be a quick lunch. But a long line and a new cashier had dashed any hope of a speedy stop.

And now I would have to wait in the line for a second time.

“Are you mad, Mommy?”

“No, I’m not mad,” I said in a voice that positively dripped with irritation. “Eat your apple slices, and I’ll be right back with more chicken.”

After a ridiculously long wait, I finally got Nathan’s replacement food. “Thank you,” he said. “You’re my favorite Mommy in the whole world.”

Despite my frustration, I couldn’t help smiling. “I’m your only Mommy.”

He shrugged. “Even if I had another one, you’d still be my favorite.”

I chuckled and munched on a now-cold French fry. “So how was school today?” I asked him.

“We had to say what we were thankful for and Anthony said his shoes. Isn’t that silly, Mommy?”

“Maybe he just got new shoes.”

“He didn’t, Mom. He’s thankful for the same shoes he’s had all year.”

“Maybe he really likes his shoes.”

He sighed like I just wasn’t getting it. “Mom, they don’t even have Spider Man on them.”

I shrugged and decided to change the subject. “So what did you say you were thankful for?”

“You. I said I was thankful for you.”

I smiled and felt my previous irritation melt away. “I’m thankful for you too, Baby.”

“I like spending time with you, Mommy. After we get home, will you do a puzzle with me?”

“Sure, but we have shopping to do first.”

“Can I help you put the groceries away? Then we can do the puzzle sooner.”

I nodded and kissed the top of his head. “That would be great, Bud.”

He nodded back. “You’re lucky to have a little boy who is such a good helper.”

“You’re right, Honey. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“I’m sorry to be eavesdropping, but I just couldn’t help myself,” the older woman at the next table said with a smile. “I’ve been listening to your interactions with your son, and it was just so sweet. I love how you talk to him.”

My mouth dropped open. “Oh, well, thank you very much,” I stammered. “That is such a nice thing to say.”

“I know parenting can be stressful, but all too often, I hear parents snap at their children and get impatient at the littlest things,” she said. “But you’re so good with him.”

“Oh, well, you didn’t see what happened ten minutes ago,” I said. I gave her a quick rundown on the dropped chicken nuggets and my poorly concealed irritation. “So the truth is, you just caught me at a good moment,” I admitted with a shrug.

I expected her to take back her compliment, but instead, her smile grew even bigger. “We all have good moments and bad moments,” she said. “We all lose our cool sometimes. The trick is to make the most of the good moments and to put the bad ones behind you as quickly as possible.”

I nodded. “That’s good advice. Thank you.”

The woman smiled. “I’ve got another piece of advice for you: Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m quite sure that your good moments as a mom far outweigh your bad ones.”

I shrugged. “Well, I don’t know about that.”

“It’s true,” she insisted and pointed at Nathan. “It’s obvious by the way he talks to you.”

I thanked the woman again and left the restaurant.

An hour later, Nathan and I were in the check-out line at the grocery store when a magazine cover caught my eye. On it were photos of various celebrities, along with a report card critiquing their parenting skills. The big winners were Sandra Bullock, Kate Middleton, and Jessica Simpson. According to the magazine, they are excellent mothers.

The magazine went on to critique other celebrity moms in a more negative fashion. Several, they claimed, were allowing their children to be raised by nannies. Others, it said, were no fun or were poor disciplinarians.

I don’t often feel sorry for celebrities, but in this case, I did. Being a mom is my most important job, and I can’t imagine how awful I would feel to have someone tell me I was doing it poorly.

Especially on the cover of a magazine.

I also questioned how the magazine writer could possibly know who was actually a good mom. Unless the writer was a fly on the wall in their home, how could they know what really went on?

Maybe they just caught Jennifer Garner at a good moment. And Jennifer Lopez at a bad one.

I remembered the advice from the lady at lunch. She said to make the most of the good moments and to let go of the bad ones.

But even more importantly, she said that I needed to stop being so hard on myself. Nobody’s perfect. I’m not, and neither is anyone else, including those celebrity moms in the magazine.

Being a mom is stressful enough without having other moms looking over our shoulders, critiquing our behavior. So the next time I see another mom having a bad moment, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she’s a good mom who’s just having a tough day.

And I’m going to try to do the same thing for myself.

After all, even in my less-than-stellar parenting moments, I’m somebody’s favorite Mommy.

And that makes every moment a good one.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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2 Responses to “A Good (Enough) Moment”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    This is a must read for all new mothers-to-be!

  2. Mary Ann says:

    I sent this beautiful essay to my daughter, a wonderful mother of two who is definitely their “favorite” mom!

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