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Will You Be a Good Mother?

Are you a risk taker?

Ultimately, becoming a mother is a leapof faith. Once upon a time, I held a narrow and naive vision of what being a "good mother" meant; could make lists of things I'd both liked and disliked about the way I was raised; and was famous for my impatience and rigidity: My priorities in life had nothing to do with molding moral character or making sureanyone's teeth but my own got brushed at night. I had a baby anyway.

Now here I am, nine years and four children after The Mole Incident, a blissed-out mama who's written three books about parenting. How could I have known that the one thing that seemed so alien to my life would become its central pleasure? What's more, I'm happy to report that the mother I've turned out to be is neither the dreamboat of my hopes nor the nightmare of my fears. I haven't become a glue gun-toting, bread-baking know-it-all, because I was never that to begin with. And my darker personality traits are still with me -- watch me struggle to yield control as my 3-year-old heads for preschool in neonleggings, a floral shirt, and a tiara. But these don't keep me from loving my kids or from doing a good job as a mom.

That's the part I never expected: that you pretty much make up motherhood as you go along. Fortunately, kids start out very small and forgiving. So far, knock wood, not one of mine has been devoured by a snake.

Contributing editor Paula Spencer is the author of the Parenting Guide to Positive Discipline.