My boss is a passionate 17 month old. She puckers up in a kiss when she wants one in return. She calls out "hug" and throws her arm around whichever of my body parts is level with her at the time. She says "wuv wuh" upon her retreat, always. That's "I love you," for those in need of a translation.
Her rampant affection shows me I'm doing a good job. I am not wracked by guilt for my little misdeeds because I know that the whole of my actions has created the kind of environment in which she feels safe to express her attachment to the people in her life. She is as comfortable with others as she is with me. She is kind and mannerful. She is only beastly to the dog.
I make mistakes all the time. I lose my temper. I have been known to listen to inappropriate material on satellite radio while she's in the car (Can anyone say "Bubba the Love Sponge"? The Boss can.) I blog when I should be playing with her. I can listen to her cry at bedtime with little in the way of introspection. In many ways, I am not what the parenting books say I should be. But how authoritative are most of those texts, anyway? I mean, I could write one if I really wanted to, and we all know how full of crap that self-help tome would be.
When she turns two, and promptly turns on me, I will still know I'm a good mother. She'll test the boundaries of the foundation I've helped set for her, but it will always be her home. Our home.
I'm not sure where this confidence comes from. It's perspective that I am not blessed with in other aspects of my life. Am I a good person? I don't know. Am I a good wife? Probably not.
But I look at my daughter and it is clear to me that I am doing something right.