Early in my induction into mom-hood, I came across the concept of the good-enough mom. Whatever book I was reading at the time suggested, gently, that perhaps we do more harm than good trying to be a perfect mother. Good-enough will do very well by our kids as well as preserve our sanity.
My 2-year-old, new to talking, said to me one time: “Mama, you good-enough mom.” I remember enough of the context to know it was NOT a compliment. But that was years ago AND before I was trying to strike that elusive balance between working for pay and working for the benefit of posterity.
How am I doing now on the continuum of supermom to low-down rotten mom? I’d say the answer for me and many parents lies in the criteria by which we judge ourselves. Most of us will never end on the low-down, rotten end of the spectrum, thankfully.
So what’s the criteria? I recently finished a book titled I was a Really Good Mom before I had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood by Trisha Ashworth & Amy Nobile (Chronicle Books, 2007). As you can imagine from the clever title, it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek and very girlfriendish. I laughed aloud at points and saw myself somewhere in each chapter.
Some of the great recommendations in the book include:
– letting go of unrealistic expectations and therefore guilt at falling short
– swearing off comparing ourselves to other parents and second-guessing our decisions
– saying no to some things in order to say a more complete “Yes!” to the things that are truly important to us and our families
All of these things are easier said than done, and I appreciated how the authors used humor to encourage their readers. The day after I finished reading the book I had a little ah-ha moment.
I was dropping my son off for his last camp day of the summer and then heading to a day’s worth of work. He was staging quite a resistance and I was feeling predictably guilty. This is my number one struggle as a working parent. Although I feel it’s important to have a life outside parenting and housework; although we need me to work, financially speaking; and although I go crazy with too much kid-time, I still succumb to guilty feelings when he’s resistant to the kid-care options I’ve arranged for him while I work. By the time we got to the super-awesome fun place for kids, he jumped out of the car, half-skipped, half-jogged to the entrance and jumped right into playing with the toys when we got there. No protest, no drama. The knot in my stomach relaxed and I consciously let go of the guilt. He would be well cared for and have fun this day. He probably wouldn’t want to leave when I returned.
The guilt I felt was a complete waste of emotional energy. That’s my main lesson to live into. Yes, I’m a good-enough mom and proud of it.
Lastly, NO ONE responded to my last book give-away! Maybe some of you were scared off by me asking you to tell a story in the comments. So, this time, if you are interested in the book I’m giving away (featured last week: The Three-Martini Playdate), please just jot me a note in the comments below or send an email to me: susan (at) susanyoungmassagetherapy (dot) com. It’s a great book and I’d love to get it into someone’s hands. Someone who needs a good laugh!