What’s a good mom?

Once in a while I nag the offspring for fresh column ideas, usually without success.

But this time was different and 8-year-old Layla appeared ready to talk on demand. I jumped at the chance.

‘From a child’s point of view, what’s the definition of a good mother?’ I enquire, trying not to betray my fervent hope that she’d smile sweetly and say ‘You, of course’.

She doesn’t say this at all.

‘Well, I suppose some people might say it’s someone who buys their children sweets and toys whenever they ask,’ she answers, momentarily distracted by a Jonas Brother.


‘So… that excludes me, then?’ Definitely not the answer I was looking for. Heart breaking just a little, don’t mind me. Meep.

‘Ja, you never buy that stuff. You always say you don’t have money for it. Or you do have money but just won’t spend it on that.’

‘Oh. So that means I’m a bad mother?’ Beginning to wish I’d interviewed the dog instead.

She drags her eyes away from the Boys with Too Much Hair and gives me a look of utter disdain, straight from the stormy future hell that will be adolescence.

‘Mommy, don’t be silly. You know that’s not true. And anyway, you should never say bad stuff about yourself. When you say bad stuff, you make it true. Tsk.’

Hmm. That’s a good one. I should write this stuff down.  And I’m loving that annoyed tongue-cluck, I used to do a good one myself. But still no boosting of my fragile mommy-ego, so I try another tack.

‘Okay! So I think I’m just GRRREAT then!’

She sighs.

‘Right, that’s… how shall I put this… gloating. You should also never do that. It’s bad manners. Just be yourself. Don’t act all… weird, like you’re doing now. You’re just trying to get me to say that you’re a great mom, when you know that you’re fine.’  Gulp. She’s got me there.

Life advice from a third grader. She appears to be on a roll here.

‘Also, you must always be like, cheerful and stuff, even when you’re stuck doing something boring, try and enjoy it.’ (Will remind her of this during dentist appointments, spring cleaning and episodes of House).

‘Oh, and do kind things for the environment and for other people, even when they’re not kind to you. Cos you know, you get some people who are horrible. Just be, you know, a good person, like normal.’ She’s quiet for a bit. ‘Of course I’d like more sweets and toys but you’re not a bad mom for not giving them to me.’

And that’s as much as I’m getting, it seems. I’ve been firmly put in my place, but that’s okay.

I love that she’s so sensible and not afraid to tell me when I’m not.

I love that normal to her means kind and cheerful, humble yet self-assured.

I love that good is normal.

Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht

What’s a good mom, in your opinion?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
24% - 1192 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
29% - 1466 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
47% - 2344 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.