Well-meaning people sometimes use the phrase, “She’s such a good mom!” Maybe you’ve had someone say this about you, and maybe you haven’t. Maybe you wish someone would say this about you.

The last thing I want to do is mock the good intentions of cheerleaders who want to affirm us moms on our parenting journey. We all need people who hoot and holler encouragement to help us run our life races well.

But enough about being a good mom. What does that really mean anyway?

I don’t want a cheap definition of what it means to be good. Am I good because I make sure my kids’ teeth are brushed (with or without fluoride) or because I pack carrots instead of cookies in their lunches? Am I good when my kids don’t throw tantrums at the grocery store? Am I good because I walk them to the library and the playground and get them outside instead of sitting in front of the television or video games all day?

What about the days when my child does throw a tantrum in the grocery store or on the playground? Or what about the days when I throw a fit because being a mom is just so incredibly draining and all I want is five minutes to myself?

If my goodness as a mom is defined either by my actions and behavior or my kids’ actions and behavior, then my character is wrapped up in how I and they perform and in how others judge our performance. Frankly, that’s way too much pressure for me.

Do you want to know the truth? I don’t even want to be just a good mom. I want to be a great one! I’m proud, jealous, and get stuck playing the comparison game even with moms I love dearly. In my heart of hearts, I really do want to perform well—really well. I want my kids to look good, and I want to look good, too. Not just good, but I want us to look great.

I want us to stand out because I’m inclined to want to be the best.

Here’s more truth: I’m also a busy, distracted, and tired mom. I’m a selfish, lazy, and impatient mom. I’m weak and powerless, and I’m oh-so-aware of my limitations. As one of my children said the other day, “You always say, ‘Wait a minute.’” I’m a just-one-more-minute mom.

I want to be great, not merely average good, not a B- mom but an A+ mom. Instead, I let myself down and I fail my kids and I don’t even want to know my score on this test.

So again, enough about being a good mom. I’ll never be “good enough” to meet even my own expectations, let alone someone else’s, and the reality is that when I look in the mirror of truth, my reflection is wanting and lacking.

This declaration is not about low self-esteem or low self-worth. It’s about setting things straight and seeing rightly because there is one who is perfectly good and he’s the one I need.

I don’t have to be good enough. I just need the One who is.

Not only is God “good enough”—He is perfectly good. And He is the only One who is good, which is a big relief for all of us moms who see that we fall short. As Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

God’s goodness defines what true goodness is, and oh yes, I fall short. I fall way short, much shorter than I would next to any other mom to whom I might compare myself. But we all do, and he knows it, and he showed his love for us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I hope this releases some of the pressure. Maybe some shoulders can relax. I don’t know about you, but awareness of this reality helps me breathe a little easier. Our cause isn’t hopeless, but our hope needs to be rightly placed not in our own performance but in God’s character and Jesus’ goodness on our behalf.

I get to bring all my weakness, failure, and sin and lay it at the feet of Jesus. I confess, and He forgives. I cease all of my parental and personal striving and know that He is God and that as God, He is good.

God’s goodness is more than good enough for me. “For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!” (Zechariah 9:17a)

At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, instead of being a good mom, I’m an on-my-knees with open-hands mom:

Lord, forgive me.

Lord, heal me.

Lord, satisfy me.

Lord, help me.

Lord, guide me.

Lord, You are good—far better than I can ask or imagine!—and You are more than good enough for me and my family!

You may also like:

I Want to be a Perfect Mom, But I’m Not

God Doesn’t Ask Me To Be a Perfect Mom; He Asks Me To Point My Kids to a Perfect Savior

God is in the Midst of Messy Motherhood

Katie Faris

Katie Faris is married to Scott, and her greatest works in progress are their five children ages 2 to 13. She is the author of Loving My Children: Embracing Biblical Motherhood. You can read more of Katie’s words on her blog.