There's No Such Thing As A Good Mom

by - 9:01 PM

One day, while serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my companion and I treated ourselves to lunch at a nice pizza place. We had been busting our butts and we deserved to splurge a little, for crying out loud! (Okay maybe we got a BOGO coupon in the mail and it was the last day to use it before it expired. But that's beside the point.) We were seated and soon the waiter came and chatted with us for forever and a day. 

Usually as missionaries, we would be the ones provoking deep thought with our acquaintances, but this time was different. There we were, the only customers in this newly opened restaurant, talking with a middle-aged man about our lives. Tony asked us all kinds of questions: what we did before our missions, where we were from, how long we'd been missionaries, what we like to do in our free time.. the usual. Then he asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up (maybe not that exact phrase, but I still like to say it because I like to think that I'm still in first grade). I quickly responded with my usual answer: "I want to own a dance studio and just be a good mom!" 

And that's when he snapped at me. "There's no such thing!" 

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**Tires screech** I'm sorry.. what? 

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Tell me that's not one of the strangest things you've ever heard. I was slightly offended when I heard that, myself. But that very comment is what taught me a valuable life lesson.

Tony explained how there are parents out there that set outstanding examples for their children--they keep a tidy home, enroll their kids in wholesome recreational activities, feed them well, don't spoil them rotten, and give them unconditional love--yet one of their kids ends up opening fire at a college campus, killing dozens.  

On the flip side, there are parents who give very little to their children aside from a roof over their heads. Some children are starved, ignored, used and abused, yet they go on to be nothing like their parents and do something miraculous to change the world. 

I'm reminded of an old friend from high school. He was pretty "normal", you could say. He was one of the popular kids, played sports, always goofed off as the class clown... he was just an all around good guy. 

A few years after high school, I was sitting in the living room with my grandma, watching TV. All of a sudden, the news came on and reported that this same young man had just shot his very own family member. I was in complete shock. I've met the guy's parents--they're great people! They raised him to love God and all those around him. I saw that for myself. They were not "bad parents", it just so happened that this young man fell victim of a mental illness that wasn't anyone's fault.*

I admit: more than once, I've seen a child or even young adult act out and I think to myself, "Did their parents not teach them how to [insert act of common courtesy here]?!" Here's the deal though: people have their agency. They choose what shoes to wear in the morning, what route to take to work, who to be friends with, what shows to watch, where to hang out, etc. 

I'm not a parent, nor a psychologist, but I do believe in the saying "It takes a village to raise a child". I believe it happens in more ways than one. The things children, teens, and even adults are exposed to these days aren't always there because they chose to be exposed to them. Heck, I was hiking up a mountain with my husband a couple of months ago and a woman took her shirt off in front of a crowd of strangers! Ain't nobody ask to see that! Movies, peers, money, music, advertisements... anything today can have a heavy impact on a human soul--positively or negatively. I have seen loved ones go down paths I never would have chosen for them, and I have seen close friends build their lives from the ground up. 

I can't give you an explanation of why people turn out the way they do. They end up in whatever condition for a number of reasons. I believe that people can always change, at any point in their lives. I've seen it happen more times than I can count (I credit that to my church mission). Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church said in a church address "You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. It is [a] Satanic falsehood to believe that it takes years and years and eons of eternity [not to]".

Maybe there really is no such thing as a "good mom", or a "bad mom". But there is such a thing as a parent that goes above and beyond to nurture their child the best they can. Whether that child turns out great or not is not entirely their fault. As long as that parent raised their kid in love and righteousness, they should rest easy knowing that they gave it their absolute best. 

This is where I want to take a moment to say what a great job my very own mother has done. She has overcome more trials than anyone I know, and usually battles more than one at a time. She raised 5 sensible, kind, talented and unique children that all love their family (even if sometimes they don't like to admit it). She is selfless. She cared for her dying mother and dying husband--back-to-back-- all while she juggled a full-time job, full-time college, running a business, and raising us kids. She taught me to always be kind, to look on the brighter side of things, how to be responsible, how to cook, how to do laundry, and how to love. I could go on and on. 

I know that others out there may not have had a mother like mine. But as stated before, I do know that anyone has the power to rise up and become anything they want to become. I am a huge Spider-Man fan, and therefore love Uncle Ben's quote, "With great power comes great responsibility". Simply being alive is a great power in itself. What will you do with yours? 

Photo by Shalese Deseray Photography

(*Note: I purposely omitted specific information from this story in order to protect the privacy of those involved.)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you agree or disagree? What tips do you have for people who may have wayward children? Or what if someone has a negligent parent? What advice can you offer them? 

Thank you for your thoughts and contribution, and please keep all comments kind and constructive!

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