Motherhood Mantra

Motherhood MantraHave you read Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please? I expected it to be funny. But I didn’t realize it would also be wise and sharp and dive deep into what it means to be a woman. Here’s one of my favorite parts:

I have many friends who have had natural childbirth. I applaud them. I have friends who have used doulas and birthing balls and pushed out babies in tubs and taxicabs. I have a friend who had two babies at home! In bed! Her name is Maya Rudolph! She is a goddamn baby champion and she pushed her cuties out Little House on the Prairie style!

Good for her! Not for me.

That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.

What a brilliant mantra, right? There are countless ways to be a good mother (and person), and we should trust our guts; we know that intellectually. Still, at certain moments, it can be hard not to sometimes compare yourself to others, and then doubt yourself or wonder if you’re at odds if you’re taking different paths. But in the end? “Good for her! Not for me.” Brilliant.

Have you read Yes Please? I’d definitely recommend it.

P.S. 15 career tips from smart women, and 21 surprising parenting ideas.

  1. This is perfect! …and absolutely to the going both ways someone commented. Good for her, not for me. Good for me, not for her! Love it!

  2. Sasha says...

    The wonderful breastfeeding peer support group La Leche League has a saying, “take what works for you, leave the rest.” I’m a birth doula who also teaches birth education for expecting parents. I’ve incorporated this teaching into my classes. Mamas, do what works for you, and don’t judge the rest. So many right ways to do it.

  3. mother love her child

    • MC says...

      This has been one of my favorite things to say for years!! Go Amy & Cup of Jo!!

  4. Katie says...

    Because I adore you & think you would want to know: there’s a little typo in this post; just need to add the word, “one” after ‘Here’s” in the last line of the first paragraph.

    Thanks for creating my favorite blog. It’s wonderful.

    Please delete this!
    You RULE!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, katie!!

  5. Love this! I just had my first child. I got hundreds of stories before birth and even more now. Even though I know everyone is different it is hard not to compare my experience to theirs, down to the last minute detail.

  6. I think that is brilliant also….it reminds us as women not to police each other’s choices, and that womanhood is diverse.

  7. I love this, it’s like one coworker once told me that something that works for me doesn’t necesarily have to work for you, my reality is different that yours and that of anybody

  8. Hmmmm, what about “good for me, not for her” as well? As moms, we can also get caught up in pushing our own agenda about issues we feel passionately about. It’s good to remember that something like this goes both ways :)

    • Aga says...

      Oh, yes! Great point!

  9. I just finished Yes Please! It was so funny and so insightful. My favorite mothering tip is telling your kid that they are allergic to pot and if they smoke it they will die….I’m adding that to the back burner in a few years.

  10. Listening to the audio version of Yes, Please now – it’s great!

  11. yes, definitely definitely applies to life overall, not just motherhood. it keeps popping into my head in very different circumstances!

  12. kiwigem, i love that; and jennifer, how smart to remember to apply it to ourselves, too.

  13. shan_shay, thank you so much for your sweet note, that means so much to me! xo

  14. I believe you have done a great job of using this motto throughout your blog. When I was pregnant I stumbled upon your blog when I was insanely googling something to do with breastfeeding and I was instantly soothed and reassured by the information I read. So thank you for continuing to support this mantra and parenting style!

  15. This goes right along with my own personal mantra, “Who am I to Judge?” I received “Yes Please!” as a Christmas present but haven’t cracked it open yet. Now I’m really looking forward to reading it on our Spring Break trip–it’s a long drive from Michigan to Florida! Hopefully this will make it more bearable.

  16. Oh my gosh, I think we even need to apply the same mantra to ourselves: “Good for me then! Not good for me now.”

  17. I did a post on Yes Please today too! “Good for her, not for me” and “Make NO a complete sentence” have changed my life!

  18. This mantra is perfect, especially when you really mean it. 😊

    I’ve found its true even from one kid to the next. My first pregnancy was so easy and beautiful and we had an all natural birth with midwives and I cloth diapered him and made his food and wore him and breastfed nearly a year and felt like “natural parenting” fit me like a glove. I dove right in. Loved it.

    And now I’m pregnant with spontaneous twins, and I look back at my experience with my son and think, Good for me then, maybe not for me this time. I’m with high – risk OBs, the pregnancy is complicated, and as far as BFing, CDing, baby wearing, and making baby food? My goal is simply that everyone is fed, loved, and mostly in dry diapers, however we have to do it.

  19. Joanna – have you listened to the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time”? It’s all about the struggles of early parenthood – all discussed so thoughtfully and with so much humour and sensitivity. Ira Glass recommended it on This American Life the other day, and it seems like something that might be up your alley.

    I’m not a parent yet, but I find it fascinating. I feel a little crazy for listening to it since I don’t have children, but hopefully that’s just a testament to the quality of the show :)

  20. Not just for moms but people in general! :)

  21. I believe this whole-heartedly! Even when not using this for being a mother, but just a women in general. I have to keep reminding myself, she’s someone else, and my path is my own! Great post!

  22. I haven’t read the book, but YES! That is the best mantra for motherhood and is basically how my (Australian) mothers group operates (I love those women) and I’ve tried to carry the essence of it with me to the USA. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Hallelujah and Amen to this motto. I haven’t read her book, but now I want to. To each her own, seriously.

  24. Wise words! I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile, this post pushed me to finally do it! Thanks

  25. Love this! I nod when I hear stories that are different to mine. I respect other women choices – as theirs. In that time I also mentally remind myself of how content I am with my story!

  26. Love this! I think it can apply to so many things!

  27. Whilst it’s also important to take in critical advice from experienced moms, this mantra is definitely a keeper to keep moms sane! :)

  28. Totally. It irritates me so much when moms judge each other and I am not even a mom yet. Ok, I admit I am not always judgment-free, but I try to keep in mind that what works for some does not work for others, and everyone has a different style. There is no perfect way of doing things.

  29. I do agree with the sentiment, but I didn’t enjoy the book overall. I think it read more like self-help/motivational literature, which isn’t what I was looking for at all. Loved Tina Fey’s and Mindy Kaling’s books, so I was hoping for something like that. Frankly, I thought some parts of the book were boring.

  30. As a mom (of a 21-year-old son) and a pediatrician, I can’t resist saying that the day of the birth of one’s child is but a drop in the very large bucket of life. What’s the big deal? Vaginal? C-section? Epidural? No Epidural? Home birth? Hospital birth? Doula? No Doula? Who the F cares? It is but one day out of a lifetime of days. Please don’t misunderstand me. If you can have the beautiful delivery you dreamed of, then that is a wonderful thing. Truly, it is. I know. I had that delivery. But does it make a lifetime of memories for you, or your child? No, I can unequivocally tell you, it does not. It is the day-to-day living of daily life that make the memories. So, I wish you well, and hope for all the best, but please, don’t imagine that the day (or night) of your child’s birth means any more than that one thing: the day of his or her birth. One day, out of a lifetime of days.

  31. Could not agree more with this particular excerpt – my son is 1 month old today after a very emotionally and physically traumatizing labor and delivery experience that I’m still recovering from. I support my friends when they have had “natural” childbirth including birth at home with a midwife or doula. Many people asked me during my pregnancy how I was going to deliver and implied that natural childbirth was better (including some MEN). Before the conversations would get long enough to imply that there was any other option for me, I was always firm that I would want to have an OB at the hospital, with an epidural. I thought that I had a simple enough birth plan, but as it was, I had major complications and gave birth in the operating room. Dad didn’t get to cut the cord, I didn’t get to hold my son for hours, we didn’t get to do “skin-to-skin” right away, and my wounds were worse than I ever thought they would be – still recovering today. And by the way, I still had plenty of pain despite the epidural! But in the end, I was glad that I was able to deliver this way – as difficult as it was, it would have been even worse had I not been in the care of great doctors and nurses at a world class hospital. I do think the majority of women could probably give birth at home and be fine, and of course I could not have predicted all that would happen to me (certainly I hoped for better!), but I am thankful that I had this choice and that it was the right choice for me.

  32. The mantra that gets me through:

    ‘Babies being babies.’

    Don’t try too hard to figure out why your kid is doing what she’s doing, accept and move o).

    Also, if you stop taking credit for every amazing thing they do, you’ll stop faulting yourself for every dumb thing they do.

  33. I love it! I will remember this mantra!!

  34. AMEN!! Both my kids were born in NYC – a place full of passionate, opinionated, and VERY vocal moms and dads. So it is in that spirit that I share my mantra – first uttered to an expectant co-worker fretting over every birthing plan imaginable.

    “You and your baby leave the hospital on the same day, that is a successful birthing plan”.

    The minute I said it I regretted it. But incredibly, when every element of her meticulously crafted birthing plan collapsed (birthing tub – broken, music – forgot it, family in the delivery room – out of state and missed it) she thought about my heavy handed comment and hailed the whole thing a huge success. Whew!

    Which brings me to my second mantra. “95% of the advice you receive comes from a place of love and concern, so just smile, say thanks, and follow your gut.”

  35. I actually read this 2 months ago while on maternity leave and I thought to myself, what perfect timing. I also expected it to be a just another funny book but it was also touching and smart.

  36. I like this mantra. I also like mine, which is, “There’s only one Mommy here!”

  37. I loved it and I’ve been an even bigger fan of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey for all of the wonderful and supportive women/motherhood related things they’ve been saying in recent years. (Particularly loved the Emmy awards where they all ran up on stage – it was wonderful!)
    Yes, Best Mantra!!!

  38. I think that is a great mantra, and applies to all women…thank you for sharing. xo

  39. Thank you Jo. It comes perfect today.

  40. Such a great tip! I also use this in reverse when giving advice, I’ll always say, “this is what has worked for me, but find what works best for you!” We are all in this together but it’s good to know that it’s okay to do things the way we feel.

  41. I am probably 56 on the waiting list at the library for it. I love this, and will use it. My mantra to my daughter (when she asks why other kids go to Disney when we can’t afford it, or why they can eat candy as a snack, or why they have American Girl dolls) is “Different parents have different rules.”

  42. love it!!! will definitely be my new mantra.

  43. I love that. I think I need to read this.

    Isn’t it amazing how hard we are on ourselves? That’s why it’s so important for us to be loving and accepting of each mother’s right to do things the way that work for her and her family. Great post!

  44. Love this. I just ordered the book, and I can’t wait to read it soon! Thanks for sharing this part of it :)

  45. I love this. All too often we judge ourselves for not being like others, for having different needs and struggles. I am definitely guilty of that. This sounds like a fabulous new mantra! Thanks for sharing.

  46. It came just in the right time!
    Good for me (-;

  47. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will read Poehler’s book (even sooner now that I spell her last name right without looking first).
    Caroline’s early March “can’t” stop reading recommendation is almost finished. I understand why she likes Paula Hawkin’s first novel, “The Girl on the Train”, great reading, definitely not easy to put down.

  48. As a momma who has now given birth to three babies at home, and often put up on a pedestal that I don’t want to be on.. I love this!

  49. I needed this SO much today, you have no idea! Thank you.

  50. Perfect. That Amy Poehler is so smart. And so are you! Thanks, Joanna.

  51. nora, omg, your comment made me laugh out loud. i love it.

  52. SL says...

    There are so many quotable quotes in that book. This one was a highlight! This was also my first Audible book – so much fun to listen to!

  53. I was just working on a similar post! It’s time to end the mommy wars! I’ve been meaning to pick up that book! Although it’s so hard to find time to read with a newborn!

  54. Lovely, thanks for sharing. You have such a gift for expressing things Joanna!

  55. This is great. I have a mantra of my own that I use all the time: “Better for me does not mean better than you.”

  56. I just finished this book, and that mantra was one of the things that stuck with me the most. Definitely a great mantra and one I wish everybody would adopt.

  57. Oh man – so simple but SO TRUE! Good for her, not for me. Genius.

  58. Wonderful for all women, not just mamas. A great thing to keep in mind and stay true to yourself!

  59. “Good for her, not for me”.
    Gosh we all need to repeat this in our heads over and over. As women, we get so competitive over basic things, just so we can prove things to ourselves, that no one expects us to prove anyway. Love this post J!


  60. Loving this mantra. It works for everything in life!

    I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger from NYC. Follow my stylish adventures at Also looking for bloggers to collaborate with!

    With love from NYC,

  61. I recently read this book! So warm and funny.
    And I love love this mantra. Not completely related but on the note of mantras, I saw Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner speak recently and he spoke about not feeling vindictive to those who turned down the show or thought it wouldn’t do well with a line he ended up using on the show – “If I wait patiently by the river, the body of my enemy will float by.”

  62. Excellent advice and applies to a great many situations. We women are too often prone to compare ourselves to others.

  63. I thought Amy Poehler did a great job with Yes Please, it was more insightful than I expected.

    I read Tina Fey’s and was really disappointed (I’m on a small boat with that one I know). I LOVED Mindy Kaling’s. I thought she was approachable, funny and impressive.

    At times Amy seemed like she was trying too hard (in a I don’t care if you like me or not kind of way) and it jarred me on occasion but overall it was great. I felt like it stepped outside of the comedy memoir and into a female empowerment/inspiration genre – in a good way!

    My take on the comedy memoirs:

  64. Yes I appreciated that mantra as well when I read the book! I also love how she talks about her boys, just the loving, cant get enough of them kind of gushing over them talk in the book which I could really identify with. Like you just want to squeeze them all day long and are so excited about them in general. She’s awesome. Other favourite part was when she cussed out the guy on the plane (in the beginning of the book). I can just see her leaning back and yelling at him with all her might!

  65. alex, you’re so right. one of my best friends had three home births and is very passionate about attachment parenting, and i completely respect and admire her choices. but i have basically done the opposite: i had a wonderful experience with my two hospital births, i felt so cared for and safe with our doctor, i actually loved being at the hospital and it felt like a mini vacation to be so taken care of and to even get a menu for meals, etc… :) so “good for her! not for me” really rang true here—as well as many, many, many other times in life! xo

  66. Listened to the Audio book version, which is fabulous. The parenting advice she gives is so approachable and down to earth. The story that touched me most was about the skit she regrets from her time on SNL and her own reluctance to admit her complicity in hurting someone’s feelings, and later, her ability to find forgiveness from the person she hurt and to forgive herself.

  67. lisa, AGREED. definitely goes beyond motherhood.

  68. kellie, i agree! she also seemed annoyed or mad about certain things in life/work/etc, which i actually really appreciated hearing about!

  69. Love this mantra. I’ve been a regular reader of your blog since college. I’m not a mother, but it’s fascinating how relatable your motherhood posts can be.

    As a young professional, this mantra is a wonderful reminder to stop comparing myself to others in my very competitive industry.

    Thanks :)

  70. This is so timely. I’m 14 weeks along and was sitting down with two other pregnant friends just yesterday discussing birth plans. They both have doulas and midwives and are going for natural child birth in hot tubs or whatever. I have a regular old OB and am planning to deliver in a hospital, and as we kept talking, I just felt like slowly backing away and slinking out the door – like my choices are not acceptable! And it wasn’t my friends who were being judgey at all, it was myself! I should have just reminded myself – “good for them, not for me”.

  71. Love it! So simple. We can be supportive of others without putting ourselves down, and if we feel secure enough in our choices we shouldn’t need to put anyone down. Great mantra!

  72. This is brilliant! I’ve been working for most of my early twenties to navigate accepting and celebrating people doing things different to me, and still being proud of my choices. It creeps up in my conversation, my writing, and my thoughts all the time.

    Good for her! Not for me. Love it.

    I’ll have to read that book!

  73. loved the book and this mantra!

  74. I am going through a painful breakup with my husband of 26 years and the chapter on divorce has become my bible! It’s sooooo true and it makes me laugh every time I read it. Love smart funny ladies!

  75. I thought this book would just be silly fun but so much wise, common sense advice from Amy. I recommend to everyone!

  76. Yes yes yes I love this. This should be the attitude of not only all women, but all people everywhere, especially on the internet. Think how nice it would be if when people had a difference of opinion on how best to do something, instead of arguing they simply said, “That’s awesome for you!”

  77. I love this mantra! I think women are geared toward building consensus (whether by nature or by conditioning; it doesn’t really matter), and that can be a good thing a lot of the time. But it can also make us uneasy with people who are different or make different decisions. I don’t need a pat on the back for every decision I make, and I don’t need my friends to have checked all the same boxes I did. In fact, I like having friends who do things differently– it seems to take some of the pressure off, because decisions are often just decisions, not identity. And frees me up to change my mind later on if that becomes a better option!

  78. Since reading it (I also loved it – I actually carried it around for days like a comfort blanket!) I use this mantra so much. Good for her! Not for me. It actually makes me check myself more than anything, before I jump to a conclusion or snap judgement.

  79. That’s my mantra! You can handle more than one kid? Good for you! Not for me. You can stay home full time? Good for you! Not for me.

    Different strokes for different folks. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with it.

  80. I’m reading it now! I’m almost done and I love it. She is so kind hearted and I love how real she is. I’m super biased because I already loved her, SNL, Parks and Rec, Smart Girls, I love it all! I’ve had Bossypants idling in my kindle for so long and I’m ready to read it if only to read the chapter on Amy!

  81. Total truth. This goes even beyond motherhood too! We live so relative to others we often forget to stop comparing and taking notes and start to reflect and learn our own tendencies and lifestyle. LOVE IT.

  82. We just read Yes Please! for book club, and this excerpt was a big part of our group discussion. Such an important reminder to live your truth. Love it!

  83. YES! I listened to the audiobook while doing the dishes at night. So many gems about life and how to approach it. Immediately after finishing “Yes Please” I bought and listened to the audiobook version of Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” (which I had already read). Another good one. These two women are awesome examples of how to live life and laugh while doing it. Big thumbs up.

  84. That part was my absolute favorite!! Glad you enjoyed it:)

  85. Yes! That was one of my favorite parts of the book. It simplifies things in such a beautiful way. I’ve been using it as mantra too, and I feel so much more in charge of my own path as a mother.

  86. I really liked it too! A lot of times it seems like celebs just write to bolster their images, but Amy’s book came across as very real and honest. I felt like I actually got to know her!

  87. Joanna — a very wise sister-in-law of mine visited a few days after the birth of our first child and, seeing how shell-shocked I was, simply nodded (took the baby for a while) and said, “From now on, your new mantra is Whatever Works.”

    Still holds today :)

    Love your blog. Visited NYC last week with our three kids and you were our tour guide!