Measuring Quality in Motherhood: Am I A Good Mom?

Quality Measures.

Striving for the A+.

Some days are harder than others, when I confront my role as mom. I’ve been wearing that cape for quite some time now, and should theoretically already be a pro. But it’s still difficult to assess where I stand, and I wish there was a simple way to check in.

I’ve long given up on a book of instructions. It seems to make most sense to just ‘play the job by ear’. And yet, how do I know that I’m doing it right?

Performance requisites in certain professions address this exact line of questioning. For example, in my field of primary care medicine, quality measures have been set up to ensure that we physicians are ‘doing our job’. How well we meet these determines reimbursement, or pay.

Our grades, back in medical school, served a similar purpose – assigned to us based on how we performed. Can’t I be given a letter now, to give me the feedback I need as a parent?

Are we good moms? Maybe just kind of good? Or ‘eh-good, needs work’? Or maybe I’m that A+ Mom, deserving of that coveted Valedictorian title? How in heaven’s name can I tell?

Is there a mother’s degree, of some sort, that I can earn – a medal of honor to mark the success of parenting accomplished thus far?

It feels like we all need that feedback. Just to know how we’re doing, as an acknowledgement that we’re on the right track.

Is it wrong of us to ask this, in the first place? Because if it is, then I’m guilty as charged!

Measuring Quality in Motherhood: Am I A Good Mom?

If Not Grades, Then..

Maybe a video game would suffice as a quality measure – a game where I know where I stand.

I think moms like me should be able to ‘level up’ when they reach certain feats. They could collect coins along the way, and turn them in at the end of the day.

The moment I say goodnight to my kids, and switch off the lights in their room, my turn would end, having met my goal of tucking them in safe and sound (maybe with bonus points for their happiness). I’d have the option to then deposit the coins I earned throughout that day, right into the ‘Bucket of Mom.’

Once the right threshold is met in that bucket, I’d wake up the following day on my newly earned level, with different challenges altogether.

At least then I’d know where I stand.

Maybe We’re Just Not Meant to Know.

Maybe it’s all a part of the natural progression of things, though – to not know. To parent blindly, with only the guidance of our own childhood experiences behind us, along with the guidance of our surrounding circle of friends, serving as examples of who we should naturally be comparing ourselves to.

Maybe the beauty of motherhood lies exactly in this very lack of knowledge – enabling us to parent in our own way – the way we deem best. Maybe the road best traveled in parenthood is paved with only our own judgement, free of anyone else’s.

I tried to look this up – to search for whether we can ever be ‘good enough’, and found an article that addressed exactly this. In it, the author writes:

“‘Reached their potential’ and ‘Done the best we could’ are both standards that ensure failure .. ‘Good enough’ is helping our children to feel secure and valued, and ‘good enough’ propels us forward.”

But who determines when we’ve earned that particular status? When can I be satisfied at conquering the ‘good enough’-ish state? It’s all a part of this frustrating catch-22 of parenthood – not having anyone tell us when we’re there.

Measuring Quality in Motherhood: Am I A Good Mom?

Making a Decision Myself. 

Ultimately, we don’t earn grades. Nor are there video games for us to win.

We need to make these parenting decisions on our own, and then decide whether we did them right. No one can truly tell us how we’re doing.

But maybe looking at our children can.


I look for cues for how I’m doing by looking at my own three children. I call these children-cues. I look for the twinkle that shines in their eyes, as they’re tucked in to bed. The happiness in their voices, as they tell me ‘one last thing!’ (or two, or twenty) right before we whisper our goodnights, is another reassuring sign.

I watch them once they doze. When grins creep up on their faces, as they dream, those grins help to comfort my uncertainties, and let me know that all is ok. I watch as they grow, and slowly evolve, from children who need me, to the strong, independent human beings, that I’ve always imagined they’d be.

At the end of the day, a mother knows whether things are right. Without grades, without quality measures, without coins in a bucket. Because all she needs to do is to look at her children, and the answer will be right there, staring her lovingly back in the face.

Measuring Quality in Motherhood: Am I A Good Mom?

Measuring Quality in Motherhood: Am I A Good Mom?