I will say right off the bat that I'm not a parent, both so you don't get confused about how much authority I have on this matter and/or think this article is a vehicle for me to pat myself on the back (it's not). However, dear moms of the world, I have been fortunate enough to watch over a hundred of your babies, toddlers and kids in the past decade of my life, both in babysitting and in daycare. The eight or so hours I'd spend with them every day is nothing compared to parenthood, so when I write about traits that make good moms, I'm not writing it from my own experiences with kids. I'm writing it from my experience of watching the parents that over these last few years whom I have come to admire.
You can tell right away when a kid is happy, adjusted, and secure in their relationship with their mom, and it's the moms of those kids that have helped me glean my knowledge on what makes a good one. That, and my own amazing mom, but I will try to keep my personal bias (SHE IS THE BEST THOUGH, just saying) out of this.
I often compare the traits I see in the best parents I know against the parts of my friends that, while childless, are inherent and will inevitably be applied to their parenting skills should they choose to one day have kids. Which is to say: I know what makes a great parent, and how to recognize that potential in my childless friends. Here are some of the telltale signs that you're going to be as good of a mom as the ones I've encountered:
You fully understand the amount of work that goes into taking care of a child
I think the best moms are the ones who are realistic about what is going to happen once that human comes out of them. It is not all sunshine and daisies and baby smiles. It's poop up the back and in their hair; it's drives to the nearest clinic at three in the morning over something that turns out to be nothing; it's many years of no sleep and even more years of full financial support for a human who might not always be very grateful for it. I think some mothers have kids as accessories, or to fill a void in their life that won't necessarily be filled by having a kid, and they are frequently in for rude awakenings. That being said, the learning curve on parenthood is a quick one. You're not royally screwed if you don't know all this immediately—but I can't help but think that the people who do get it are destined to be even better moms.
You are patient even in the face of utter chaos, and listen before you react
You are the kind of person who has mastered road rage (i.e., cussing bad drivers out from the comfort of your own car, but not actually doing anything dangerous on the road). You pause for at least a minute before responding to trolls on Twitter, or maybe you are so above it all you don't even respond at all (let me know what that's like, if you get a minute). You don't even flip out that one time a year that you cave into your McFlurry obsession and they tell you that the machine just happens to be broken.
How this applies to motherhood: Even the most well-behaved kids will get up in your business, bite you, smack other kids, climb up step stools and pull down highly valuable glass objects. You've already mastered overcoming your gut reaction ("WTF WERE YOU THINKING THAT IS MOMMY'S FAVORITE DVD OF THE NOTEBOOK YOU JUST CRACKED") to calmly assess the situation and decide how to approach it.
You are firm about your boundaries
It takes a lot of strength growing up to be confident not only in yourself, but the way you allow people to treat you. The women who are firm about this know the amount of respect that they deserve and surround themselves with the kind of people who treat them that way are also the ones who tend to raise children who will mimic those healthy qualities. Plus, having good boundaries with the people in your life now means you're more likely to do it with your kids, thus ensuring a better relationship with them too.
You make friends easily and often
You're open-minded and tend to go with the flow, so you collect friends the way you used to collect Pokémon. People are drawn to you because you are seem open and non-judgmental, and you express an interest in hearing about other people's experiences and points of views.
This same acceptance of people is especially important when it comes to being a mother, because you never know what flavor jellybean your future kid is going to end up being. You're just naturally the type of person who will love and accept them no matter what.
You are able to put yourself in other people's shoes
Every now and then, your friends will say something that you fully do not agree with ("I don't think of myself as a feminist," or "cheese is gross," for example). It is most people's gut reaction to tell them off or make a snap judgment about them, but you're the type of person who is able to step back and try and figure out where the friend is coming from, even if you fully don't agree.
A casual scroll through YouTube or "Reasons My Kid Is Crying" will give you all the evidence you need that kids can get upset over the most irrational things on the planet. But the good moms are the ones that aren't dismissive of this kind of behavior, but try to get to the root of what is actually bothering a kid or have a reasonable conversation with them about it (granted that they're old enough) to calm them down. Having empathy for your friends earlier in life makes this part of motherhood a whole lot easier.
You would take a bullet for a stranger
We've all thought about this hypothetical dire scenario at least once: Are we you George of your Grey's Anatomy friend group? Would you jump in front of a bus to push a stranger out of the way? It's hard to know for sure unless something like that actually happened (and hopefully, duh, it won't), but you at least have an idea of how you would react. And even the little day-to-day moments, like giving up your prized curly fries to the friend who forgot their lunch, are early indications of being a good parent. Curly fry sacrificers are heroes, too!
Being a mom is basically 24-hour curly fry surrendering. It's completely shifting your priorities from from the moment your first kid is born. I have no doubt that most mothers would take bullets for their kids, but it's the kind of people who have everyone's backs from the get-go that go into motherhood understanding the full extent of that responsibility.
You are not afraid to take charge
You are the person who is inevitably the leader of all group projects. It's just who you are. Even when you intentionally step back and try to let someone else take charge for the sake of fairness and not being a control freak, it never quite works out that way. Leading comes naturally to you. In fact, you'd argue that it's less stressful for you to be the one in charge.
The women who are not easily intimidated in their professional and personal lives are also the ones who aren't afraid to set very necessary boundaries for their kids, and remain firm on the house rules that they've set. You already understand how important it is to stick to your guns.
You can do the gross work when it's necessary
You're the one holding people's hair back when they vomit, the one snuggling up to your flu-ridden friends, the one finally unmucking the toilet after you and your roommates have ignored the dismal state of for too long. These gross things are just the warm-up to the marathon that is gross things you will encounter in motherhood. It's not just diapers, guys. There's projectile spit-up, loose teeth, food crusted and molding in a spot you didn't check for months, and plenty of booger eating and butt picking. If you read that sentence just now without gagging on your own spit, you've already got a leg up on the mommy wagon.
You know how to love yourself
You're not necessarily one hundred percent confident all the time, because that's not a realistic way to live and you accept that. But in your core, you love yourself and have a foundation of confidence that can't be shaken by petty day-to-day things. The women who learn to love and accept their own flaws early in life are the ones who are self-aware enough to teach their own kids to do the same.
You find the humor in hot messes
Remember that girl in the study lounge of your dorm who lost her chill the night before finals at like 2AM and decided to release her stress by cackling like a hyena in front of everyone? Yeah, it was super weird, but she's probably going to be a stellar mom. I don't think anything can prepare you for motherhood more than a good sense of humor.
You accept that there are things beyond your control
By "things" I really just mean "everything". All those rough moments in high school, the weird awakenings in college, the biweekly existential crises in your 20s—you've learned that sometimes the key to surviving all of it is to just breathe and let the cards fall where they may. You've gotten good at accepting that things will never be "perfect." They will be amazing and unforgettable and occasionally awful, but always far, far from perfect. And you're cool with that.
The people who understand that early in life end up putting a lot less pressure on the idea of being a "perfect mother," because they realize that there's no such thing as that, either—and that's just fine.
Images: The WB; Giphy (9)