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What kind of mother ARE you?

When it comes to motherhood, there are martyrs and there are saints, those who bend over backward and those who are not quite so flexible, as well as all points between. There are Marion Cunninghams and Carol Bradys, Marge Simpsons and Peg Bundys, each figuring out her own way to balance mommy’s needs with the needs of those whom she loves.

What about you? Answer these four questions.

1. You have a chance to meet your favorite author who in town for a book signing — a to-die for experience! The problem is, the signing is at the same time as your daughter’s soccer game, in a different part of town. You can’t make both.

a. You go to the book signing — you’ll catch next week’s game for sure.
b. You go to the game. It’s important that your daughter knows how much you  support her.

2. It’s your birthday, and you get to choose the restaurant. You pick:

a. Date Night. Get a sitter and do it up good!
b. Family night at Olive Garden or TGI Fridays or Tres Margaritas. A cuisine you like at a restaurant that’s kid-friendly.
c. Chuck E Cheese. Your kids will be so happy and that makes you happy.

3.  You’ll spend the extra “Fall back” hour on Sunday:

a. sleeping, reading, or indulging yourself somehow.
b. getting caught up on your To Do List.
c. playing with the kids, of course.

4. Your spouse has a work trip planned to a city you’ve always wanted to visit. You can get there on frequent flyer miles and the hotel expenses are paid for by the employer. You:

a. immediately begin researching flights and brainstorming babysitting options (not necessarily in that order).
b. sigh deeply and wish you could get away, but it would just be too disruptive for everyone.
c. go about your business. Get away? Why would you want to get away?

This is the part where you think I’m going to say what the answers mean, isn’t it? That if you answered mostly A, you are self-centered and need to grow a heart, or that if you answered mostly C, you have lost yourself and need to grow a pair of, um, warm fuzzy socks. For yourself.

But no, I simply want to ask you if your answers accurately reflect your values. Do you do what you want to out of love and joy? Or do you find yourself acting out of duty and obligation some of the time? much of the time?

What are some ways that YOU balance the needs of those you love with your own needs? Do you identify more with Mother Teresa or Mommie Dearest (or one of the infinite other points on the spectrum)?

What kind of mom are you, and what hints can you give about getting everyone’s needs met (including your own!)?

Lori is the daughter of a Carol Brady but somehow developed into a Peg Bundy. She writes regularly at about living mindfully and parenting in open adoption. Every chance she gets, Lori leaves her children Tessa, 10, and Reed, 8 in the care of Carol while she goes on business trips with her husband.

Image: Vlado /

Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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  1. Great thought provoking post along with some great questions. I think it’s so important to find that balance, yet in my case I’m still looking for it. Yet question #2 helped me to see that I do think of myself too, becuase my answer to that quesiton was ‘b’, which I believe is a happy in-between place for making everyone happy.

    • I’m firmly in the A camp and would like to work my way up to B answers!

      Finding that balance is a moment-to-moment thing, isn’t it? So easy to fall into our patterns and not actually CHOOSE a course of action.

  2. Great article Lori! After thinking about my answers to the questions you posed with your quiz I was proud of myself that I do think there was balance in my answers. I saw your comment on Esperanza’s blog this week about considering our intentions in doing things and whether or not is is because of duty/obligation or love/joy. I have been pondering that ever since. Like so much in life, I don’t think most situations in my life are “either/or.” There is usually grey area and I do plenty of things for both reasons. That said, it certainly is interesting to think more about how we make the choices we do to spend our time and energy on and with the things and people that mean the most to us. Thank you for this. Good stuff!

    • I really like the way you talk about either/or and about making choices, Kathy. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Loved this, Lori! It is so important to reflect on our choices, actions, and lives and to figure out if things are working for us or if we need some tweaking or even a major overhaul.
    I see parenting is a dance of balancing how much we give to our children and how much we take for ourselves. We give ourselves to them wholly as babies and then as they develop more and more independence we get a little more space for ourselves back.
    For me the balance changes day to day and even moment to moment depending on their needs and mine. Sometimes I make the soccer game the priority and sometimes I have to go take fabulous pictures with fabulous Mile High Mama bloggers. 🙂
    By honoring ourselves and our needs, we teach our kids to find the balance we’d like them to have in life as well.
    Thanks for this!!

    • Love this, Lisa:

      “We give ourselves to them wholly as babies and then as they develop more and more independence we get a little more space for ourselves back.”

      And also your last sentence. And especially those MHM portraits!



    No questioning, over-thinking, second-guessing, self-doubt. When I’m happy, EVERYBODY’S happy!

    But then again, you knew that already.

    • The first rule of parenting, right? When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

      So I take it you and I are both A-ish? But feel guilty about it?

  5. My first thought when doing this quiz is that DAD can do the soccer game while I go to the book-signing. 😉

    I’ve found balance in most aspects of parenting, and I don’t feel guilty one bit for it. I’m sure to take Me Time every now and then…and Daddy gets His Time, and the two of us get or Couple Time, too. We have the Family Time and all the bases are covered.

    We don’t have relatives that live in the area, but we’re lucky to have inlaws that love to travel here to spend time with their granddaughter, and that helps facilitate some of these plans.

    Plus, I think it’s awesome that our daughter gets her special time without us, too.

  6. I am a mixture of the answers, depending on the situation and on where I’ve been on my parenting journey.

    Being with my kids and supporting their activities is VERY important, and there have been times I’ve been crushed when I haven’t been able to be with them for important events.

    And there are also times I take time for myself and prioritize ME.

    I feel pretty balanced in my parenting most of the time.

    What I also know is that as my kids get older, I can feel the time with them living in our house, slipping away. I want to take full advantage of the time I have with them. And from things they have said and done, I know that it is important to them that I am there watching and supporting them.

    Great, thought-provoking post. Thank you, Lori!

    • Sounds as if you’ve found a way over the years to balance your needs and their needs. Interesting that you point out their needs change over time. I mean, of course they do, and you are in the stage where you can see your time living with them growing shorter. Good perspective!

  7. I’m all A’s all the time. Is that bad? I do so much for daughter, when I have a chance to things for me I do it. I’m sure people might judge me for that but it’s the kind of mother I am, and I’m not ashamed of it.

  8. I answered all As because the answers were all pretty extraordinary events. Not every day is a birthday or a chance to go to Cleveland on someone else’s dime.

    Moms are people too. I hope my kids know they have my heart, completely, so missing a soccer game (if they played!) would not be a crushing development. I think it’s important for kids to see their moms as people with interests, hobbies, and other relationships. They’ll grow up with the lesson they too can enjoy family life because in families, everyone gets to spread his or her wings sometimes. Even mama.

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