What makes a mom great?
April 23, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

If you think you have a great Mom, or a great relationship with your Mom, what is it that makes her great in your eyes? What did she do, or not do, say, or not say, while you were growing up that you appreciate or that helped create a great relationship between the two of you?
posted by cocoagirl to Human Relations (30 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: this is a very nice question, but it's not a great question for AskMe, it's chatty and lacks a problem to be solved. It might be better suited for chattier sites. -- jessamyn

posted by bmalicoat at 12:09 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is awesome. Like, seriously awesome. My dad left when I was four, and while he did pay child support, we were very poor. Like buying my clothes at garage sales, and never anything for herself poor. She worked full-time and raised my sister and I by herself for a long time, and still always managed to make tremendous time for us as kids. On the matter of life choices, she always let us work to the right decisions through careful guidance rather than directives. She treated us like partners, not children, but loved us more than anything and always told us so. As an adult she continues to be a great friend and listener, and is always there for me when I need her. I am pretty sure she's the best mom in the whole world and should give lessons.
posted by fusinski at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom listened to me and took me seriously, even when I was a horrible, crazy, moody, unreasonable, nasty, hateful teenager. She also picked her battles, which had the good result of lowering the amount of conflict we had as much as possible. If she told me I couldn't do something or had to do something, she would explain why, rather than go the "because I said so" route. And if, after explaining, I was just too committed to disobeying her, and it wasn't really that important in the grand scheme of things ("I will too shave my legs, I don't care if I'm only 12 and you think I'm too young!"), she'd let it go and let me have my willful way.

I think this kept our relationship from getting too ugly in the often difficult mother/ teen daughter years. It also showed me that she would treat me right even when I didn't return the favor. It taught me that I could mess up and she would still be there and talk things through with me.

Aside from the conflict stuff, she was always willing to talk to me about things and answer my questions. She was genuinely interested in my life and my thoughts.
posted by Mavri at 12:13 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom supports my decisions. I've made some decisions that I know she probably would have preferred I didn't make (like moving away, having major elective surgery, etc) but she supported me wholeheartedly nonetheless.

In terms of growing up type stuff, I think one major thing was keeping us accountable for our mistakes. If you did something boneheaded, you had to own up to it. She was also clearly the parent in our relationship and even now has no patience for people who insist on being "friends" with their kids.

Also, and this is quite vague, but my sisters and I do not have the kind of adversarial relationship with our mom that I hear about from other women.
posted by cabingirl at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2008

on preview, I think fusinski's mom and my mom should have some kind of "most awesome mom" competition.
posted by cabingirl at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2008

I know this might not be what you're looking for, but some of it is just chemistry. My mom 'got' me -- our personalities and ways of thinking were complimentary and we liked to do enough of the same things, were interested in enough of the same things -- it just kind of worked. She said (like any good mom) that she loved us all equally, but she and my sister clashed more and didn't quite connect -- just the way it was.

As for how she was, what she did for me, well, she was my biggest fan; a wonderfully upbeat person who also wasn't afraid to tell me when I messed up or just offer her opinion (sometimes kind of annoying).

The key thing was, she let me know, in so many different ways, that come what may, she would always love me -- and that was the biggest gift of all. It's just the way she was and I know that I was very lucky to have her as a mom.
posted by nnk at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2008

I didn't always think my mom was awesome. But now - I KNOW she's awesome. I look back through my life and I realize that she had her limitations - personality traits, situations or what have you that were difficult for her - maybe things she was born with and also a hard childhood. But, despite it all, she tried her hardest to do the right thing, even though it may have been unpopular or hard. No matter what she tried her hardest. And for that she is completely awesome. She's human, but she did her best.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2008

My Mom is an awesome Mom in a lot of ways, but above all else:

She instilled in me a sense of morality that includes kindness, forgiveness, and nonviolence. Starting at around age twelve or so, I started a drift into anger, spite, and aggression that just kept rising over the years. It's been invaluable to my exploration of my own psyche to be able to return to that moral base that my mother provided.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2008

This makes me miss my mom.
posted by govtdrone at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2008

Even though I was not the kind of daughter she was expecting, and was not the kind of girl that she had been, and was completely different in personality from her, she let me go about my childhood business without too much interference. I don't know whether allowing me this freedom was due to some parenting philosophy, or whether she just really had no clue what to do with me, but I really appreciated it then and now. She was the opposite of today's "helicopter parent".
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is a very good listener. When you talk to her, you get the feeling she really cares. She's kind, and she is very supportive. She makes an effort to understand those things I enjoy that she doesn't, and even if she doesn't always get it, I love that she's tried. My mom has a wicked sense of humour. She's also one of two people I can stand to go clothes shopping with. We don't have the same taste, but she knows what I like and is able to spot it when I can't, and she's honest about fit and colour without being mean or judgemental about it.
She is also a Palliative care nurse, and she routinely cares for people who are going to die, not in the vague far off sense of 'we're all going to die some day', but in a very immediate, they will die in the next few days/weeks/months sort of way. She deals with issues of mortality every day, not just with her patients, but also their families. Grief, anger, frustration, all of that. And she does it with grace and humour and kindness.
posted by sandraregina at 12:29 PM on April 23, 2008

Like others have already said, my mom supported me in pretty much all my decisions. Like when I got a job across the nation, she was all, "GO FOR IT."

She also didn't tell me what to do with my life, particularly when it comes to relationships. Last thing I need is parents nagging me, "She's not right for you, Johnnie!"

Mom always found the positive side of things instead of dwelling on the negatives.
Similarly, she had that "mom touch" that could make me feel like I was Judas when I failed her. While merciful, she had that ability to make me realize and learn from my mistakes.

I also saw some other friends' parents who were/are completely overbearing. Crap that would have made me disown her a long time ago had she pulled it on me. I think seeing how well she treated me, particularly in contrast to other mothers I know, makes her rock all the more.
posted by jmd82 at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2008

Same with my mum: never used the 'because I'm your mother' reason and gives guidance rather than directives. She never treated me as a dumb little kid - eg. saying "oh you're too young to understand" - but would simplify explanations so that I would understand at whatever age I was at the time. She would always ask me for my opinion or what I thought when decisions were involved, everything from 'what should we have for dinner' or 'what should we do on vacation'. She may not have acted on my opinion but the point is that she asked!

She taught us the value of trying your best, making/ maintaining progress, perseverance, and learning from your mistakes. This was in the context of school (ie. I never was expected to make a certain grade) but it has set the standard for how I approach life.

Also she taught me always to consider how other people would comprehend or perceive a situation, such as how body language/ tone of voice/ facial expressions can communicate a message that is completely different from the words you actually say.

She was never a helicopter mum and understands that sometimes I need to make mistakes in order to learn. As an adult, our relationship has evolved into friendship but if I need her to be "a mum" she will snap back into that role.
posted by kitkatcathy at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is amazing! She always spoke to me as an adult, but still spoke to me as a daughter. She didn't see my rebellions as something bad just as something I needed to get out of the way. Though, she did tell me how stupid I was/am for them. She is nurturing and silly. She always told me it was important to know that not everyone has to get along and that I don't have to please everybody (even though I still try). My mom is honest, brutally honest, maybe to a fault. This made me stronger. She spoke to me about communism, religion and other taboo subjects, that island people don't speak about. My mom baked with me, walked with me drank with me smoked with me until we both quit. She is an inspiration, that I can't put into words. Maybe someday I will have her heart and spirit. Maybe someday I will be a better mom than she is.
posted by octomato at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom isn't perfect, not by a long shot -- but I think she's very very awesome. She was a great role model in many ways -- as a woman succeeding on her own terms in a very patriarchal work atmosphere certainly. But what made her most awesome to me was her attitude. This irrepressible, can-do attitude that was often exhausting but also very inspiring. Her ability to turn lemons into lemonade. She was, I guess, something of a helicopter parent in that she was very involved in my life, and gave me a lot of guidance, but I honestly can't think of any person I'd rather have in my corner. I can tell her almost anything and have honest feedback about my choices and options, with no moralizing.
posted by peacheater at 12:37 PM on April 23, 2008

I have a good relationship with my mom because she and my dad made sure I knew that I was loved and liked by them. They (sorry, I can't bear to exclude my dad from this) always made sure my sister and I knew they wanted to spend time with us (and still do).

A lot of other stuff made them good parents, but this is the thing that made our relationship good.
posted by Pax at 12:39 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom took me seriously, and talked to me like a human being - despite what a spaztastically dweeby and neurotic little kid I was. This was so important to me during those junior high years in particular, where it seemed like the entire rest of the world was in existence for the sole purpose of making sure I realized what a dork I was. She always set aside one-on-one time with me - I used to look forward so very much to our weekly "soda at the mall" sessions while my sister was off at her dance lessons; there were times when it felt like she was just about the ONLY one who thought I was worth taking seriously, and it meant so much to me to have that.

She also - it was obvious - really ENJOYED me and my sister (and still does!); she's just one of those people who could hang out with us as kids without patronizing us or being driven up the wall by us. She'd surprise us with trips to the movies, she'd teach us games and then play WITH us, she'd really get into whatever it was either of us were saying ... She's silly and goofy and not afraid to show that, not afraid of looking silly because she's playing with us ... there's just always been something about the way she interacts with us that makes it so very clear that we're loved, in a close and active sort of way, not just some abstract "Oh, yeah, well I know she must love me but ... " way.

Additionally, she's always been so, so supportive and amazingly non-judgmental. I decide to leave my family in Florida and head up to Chicago for my first job after college? Of course she's sad and going to miss me - but she supports me, she gives me the courage to DO it and not be enervated by guilt. A few years later I decide to quit my job and faff off back to grad school, very little cash in hand, to get a PhD in - of all things - linguistics?? She and my sister have been my biggest cheerleaders. Those are just two examples but there have been so very many times in my life where I've thought about how much weight so many of my friends carry around in the form of guilt, fear, or judgment from their family; I've been so very lucky that not only do I not need to fear such judgment from my mom, but I can outright expect to be cheered on and supported no matter what blasted fool thing I've set my sights on ...

My mom is awesome =)
posted by zeph at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2008

Also, rereading the question, she is plain great because she is one of the most unselfish, kind, unmaterialistc, caring people on this earth.
posted by Pax at 12:42 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is also not perfect, and we had a pretty troubled relationship from the time I was about 13 to about 24. We don't really fight any more but I do feel at some levels we're still not communicating in the most functional way.

That said, I do think my mom is a good mom. The most important thing I always knew was that my mom loves me, a lot. She's always been supportive of my dreams and has always encouraged me to seek out new ideas and new ways of doing things, to push myself to do better. When I told her I wanted to study abroad for a few years, for example, she convinced my dad it was a good idea. I knew some of my friends' parents were devastated when their kids went to college - but my mom was really excited for me.

She loves meeting my friends and she always asks after them. She remembers who's having a baby and who's getting married and who just got a new job and when she sees them, she congratulates them on it. She always has welcomed my friends into her home and she couldn't be more generous with her time and effort.

She genuinely cares about people and it really shows. She calls herself shy but she is really a social butterfly. She always wants what's best for me, which I try to remember as she sighs about my hair or my jeans.
posted by sutel at 12:46 PM on April 23, 2008

My mother instilled in me the values that I've managed to pass on to my children, including a sense of curiosity about the world, an appreciation for acts of kindness and a strong moral code. I love my mother and I feel that my daughter and son love me, too, for which I am very grateful.
posted by Lynsey at 12:46 PM on April 23, 2008

When my mom was five months pregnant she slipped on ice and broke her leg. She didn't have her leg reset until I was born four months later. She never complains about her busted leg (which after more than twenty years later is still much larger than her other leg), her excuse is usually along the lines of "You were worth it".
posted by carefulmonkey at 1:06 PM on April 23, 2008

My Mom somehow managed to tread that fine line between being my friend and being my parent. She used to take time out from her household chores to play board games with us, or badminton in the back yard (mainly because of a smart-mouthed remark I'd made in the fourth grade: "Do you want to be remembered as a mom who had a sparkling house, or a mom who played with her kids?" Perhaps it was because of her involvement with us kids (me and my two younger brothers) that we never wanted to disappoint her, and thus did our best in school. She also became the "mom" to several of my friends in junior high school who were basically latchkey kids. My Mom always had a hot meal cooking on the stove and I was surprised to see some of my pals that had stopped by after school gobble up stuff like corned beef and cabbage that I found repulsive. I found out years later that they rarely got elaborate home-cooked meals at their own houses.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:06 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is awesome in many ways, I don't even know where to start. One thing I could not appreciate until I was older, and realized what kind of relationship many of my friends had with their moms, is that my mom was 100% non-judgmental.

She never made a single negative comment about my weight, hair, appearance, dress, boyfriends, or friends. She was genuinely supportive of just about everything I can remember growing up. I am constantly shocked when other women mention how hard their moms were on them about things like weight and appearance - it's unthinkable to me.

She is sweet and sincere and would never say an unkind word about anyone.
posted by peep at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is probably my favorite person in the entire world. There are tons of things that make her great, but here are some of the big ones:

-She knows me, possibly better than I know myself. She's keenly aware of how I think and process the world around me, of what interests me or makes me happy or sad. In fact, she's much more reliable at pointing out patterns in my behavior than I am. She'll be the first to point out, "you've been doing that since you were four" or "you feel this way every September."

-She knows a whole lot of other things. She can install toilets and cabinetry, proofread college applications, sew Halloween costumes, or teach you how to lift weights. If I have a question, Mom's the first person I go to. (Which reminds me, I need to ask her about something.)

-She's fairly unflappable, and always at least appeared to be in control of the situation. Even when she was furious with me, she never lost her composure. It actually made her pretty intimidating at times.

-She has never, ever, put me down. In fact, it feels kind of weird that I'm writing this as a reason, because parents shouldn't ever make their children feel bad about themselves, but it's important nonetheless. She's able to point out my flaws (of which I have many) without ever making me feel inferior.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:11 PM on April 23, 2008

Oh man, I love my mom. It's hard to articulate all the things she did right as a mother, but a huge one would be treating me with respect all the way through, from toddlerhood on to today. That's not to say that she treated me as an adult before I was ready for it, but that she treated my childish, imperfect self as a real human being, and I think that's a rare and wonderful thing in parenting. She also somehow, magically, managed to make me into a self-driven person while still letting me know that she'd be proud of me and love me no matter what I did with my life. She taught me to be assertive, for which I'll always be grateful. We had a few (mild) tough spells during my teen years, but I know for sure that I'll go to her for parenting advice someday.

Fundametally, of course, a lot of it comes down to the fact that I have enormous admiration for her as a person, not just as a parent. She's an incredibly strong, brave, self-respecting, loving, intelligent, and driven person. I implicitly trust her moral sense, and knowing she's there as a compass when I need advice is a wonderful thing.

So, how does one be an amazing mother? A lot of talent, probably some luck, and being an amazing person in the first place.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom isn't perfect, and we had our issues while I was gorwing up, but she had great traits that overcame any differences we may have had. Some are:

My mom always pushed me to be independent. She always told me that she regretted that she gave in very easily, in her younger days, to insecurities, and did not want me to make the same mistake. Rather than doing so as a way to re-live her own life, I always understood that she simply wanted me to develop these traits for myself, because she knew first-hand that they were important.

She always, and I mean always, believed in me. Whatever my goals were, she was right there to support me. Whatever I wanted to try, she would encourage it. At the same time, she understood my limitations. She knew that even though in other classes I got A's, C was sometimes as good as I would do in math. As long as she knew I was trying my best, she was cool. At the same time, she knew that I had a tendency to get frustrated easily and throw my hands up in the air, and she was always there to remind me to persevere. She really knew me (and still does).

As mentioned by several others above, she talked to me normally: she didn't talk down to me, as many adults do to children, but also understood that I wasn't an adult, either. She was good at talking to me plainly and explaining whatever it was I didn't understand. While other parents would get exasperated with their kids umpteenth "Why is it that...." question, my mom always answered me.

She acknowledged her mistakes, and did not usually try to pretend that she was always right just because she was 'the mom".

My parents divorced when I was very young, and she never, not once, criticized my dad in front of me. If I got upset with him, she would acknowledge what I felt but reminded me that he loved me. She encouraged us to spend time together as much as possible (he moved away soon after the divorce).
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom is awesome. We haven't always gotten along, but for the most part we have a good relationship. The key is that she always pushes me towards what she thinks is best for me, and she always shares her strong opinion. The caveat is that she is extremely supportive when I make a decision on something that she disagrees with, and backs down when I tell her that I don't like the opinions that she is sharing with me.

It's nice to get her perspective on things (it happens less now that I'm an adult) and it was nice to have someone always there to give me advice even though I rarely took it. It was also nice that she never ever said "I told you so" when I didn't take her advice when I should have. It was also nice that she gave me unconditional support no matter what I wanted to do in life.
posted by xotis at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2008

I think I just teared up a little.

My mother has always been the one who was 100% honest with me when others won't be. One would say she's consistently given me constructive criticisms, but she's never ever been hurtful. She's taught me to play to my strengths which is so important in life.

When she compliments me, it means more to me coming from her than anyone else because I know it's sincere.

She also once told me, "There's nothing you can do that would surprise me. Honey, I've been there and back at least once." So with that I've always been able to come clean with all kinds of mishaps and she's been there for me every time. No matter how difficult it's made her life.
posted by dearest at 1:28 PM on April 23, 2008

My mom maybe didn't always "get" me, but she let me be myself. She didnt try to preemptively "solve" problems for me. She always let me come to her. I'm pretty sure she knew that I was up to some shady stuff every now and then, but my grades were good and I didn't get arrested, so she mostly let that stuff go. She didn't freak out.

Now, she listens to me talk when I call - I probably talk about myself too much - but she lets me talk to her to sort out problems with work. I know I can complain to her and she will always be on my side - again, not trying to fix it for me, she knows I can fix things myself, but just listening.

It seems like being a great mom is a lot like being a great anything else - lots of listening, judicious use of talking.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:30 PM on April 23, 2008

She also once told me, "There's nothing you can do that would surprise me. Honey, I've been there and back at least once." So with that I've always been able to come clean with all kinds of mishaps and she's been there for me every time. No matter how difficult it's made her life.

My mom said the same thing to me. It made a lot of my adolescence a bit less stressful!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2008

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