Are you good enough?

Are you a “good enough” mother?

The first time I heard this concept, I was horrified. It’s kind of the “Cs get degrees” of the parenting world, right?

The idea comes originally from a serious pediatrician and psychoanalyst type who talked about mothers starting off entirely devoted to their babies, sacrificing their own sleep to respond to the child’s needs (you know the drill). Then as the child got older, the mother would sometimes allow the baby to cry for a few minutes before a feed – so the child would feel a little frustration.

This was part of navigating the transition from the dreamlike baby-state of “have a need = have it met” to something more like reality.

The idea has now been drawn out to a more literal sense by lots of parents. It’s become the idea that we should be okay with not being perfect every day, nor should we strive to be. Because we are only human (much as some of us might not like to admit it) we need to let ourselves off from time to time. To have days where our parenting is perfectly adequate, but not exactly Pinterest-worthy.

I could not understand this a year ago.

I am not okay with being “good enough” in any other aspect of my life. If my boss told me I was “good enough”, I would be horrified. Why should it be okay for my little people, who are the most important things in my universe?

But since having my daughter in November, I’ve started to recalibrate my thinking.

I was not prepared for how hard the shift would be.  I figured I had done the hard bit in becoming a mother in the first place. Having another would be relatively easier, I assumed.

I was (mostly) wrong. It seems one of them is always awake. One is having a meltdown when the other needs me. The older one wants to roll around on the floor just as the little one needs a feed.

I find myself being less than I would like to be, for both of them. I’m telling the older one to wait a minute and it’s taking me longer to scoop the little one up. Tonight we had fish fingers and chips for dinner. Not perfect. But good enough?

I’ve accepted for my sanity that good enough is going to have to be acceptable, for now.

I’ll aim for better each day and sometimes I’ll succeed. Sometimes we’ll lie under the trees and find shapes in the clouds and learn new words and sing new songs. But sometimes our quality time will be watching Shrek while I jiggle the little one on my knee and worry about when I’m going to be able to get my work done.

Striving for perfection just gives me too many opportunities to fail. My kids are fed, they’re warm, they’re happy, they’re smart (so far as you can determine when one proudly professes that his achievement of the day was eating sand and the other tries to latch on to anything that passes) and they know they’re loved. I hope when they look back on this time in years to come – if they can even remember it – they feel my good enough was near enough to okay by them.

1 reply
  1. Denise
    Denise says:

    Failures are great teaching points. My daughter has been learning at school how to have growth mindset and sharing it with us at home. So now every time we do something stoopid we turn it into a growth mindset discussion. Geeky eh ☺


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