The Good Enough Mom (and Dad)
Good enough mom (and dad)
If you hear nothing else today, I hope you hear me when I say you are good enough. You and all you do is good enough, and you should know that your kids love you for it.
I get tired of trying to meet the (probably unrealistic) expectations I create for myself. Or that my family creates for me. Or that I imagine other moms have for themselves (and therefore I must apply to myself). Sometimes, it isn't about how much you do, or how great you are, or how amazing you cook. Sometimes, it isn't about your amazing craft abilities, or the perfect hairdo you make for yourself or for the kids. Sometimes, it isn't about your coloring abilities or how much time you invest in reading to your kids. Sometimes, it is not about how great you’ve coordinated your outfit or having the best slogan on your t-shirt. Sometimes, it is about being good enough. And that's okay.
You know what I am talking about. Oh, the effort it takes to be the perfect mother/spouse/sister-in-law/daughter/neighbor/PTO member/volunteer! Oh, the effort it takes to accomplish all that you do during the day, accomplish it with amazing ability and clarity, and still be pleasant to those around you. To still – after all of that – reach out and hug your kid(s) and to (perhaps most importantly) mean it. Oh, the effort it takes to cook and clean and pack lunches and participate in bake sales. Sometimes, good enough is good enough, and that is completely okay.
And look at what we have contributed to the family during this awful pandemic! We are teacher/IT technician/PE assistant/supply chief/full-time cook to include short-order lunches/housekeeper/laundress/yearbook photographer/assignment reviewer/fight marshal/confidante/etc. You do all this, and in many cases, carry a full work load, too, all from the comfort (and confines) of your home. It’s been exhausting, right, to do all of these roles, shifting seamlessly from one hat to the next, reading the crowd, knowing how to respond. And you’ve definitely fulfilled these roles more than “good enough.”
Please don't think I am a proponent of mediocrity. I am not encouraging you to do any of these things half-assed or without completion. I’m not saying to slap things together. What I am saying is that it is okay that you aren't number one because a) the people who love you most already think you ARE number one without you winning any meatloaf contests; b) your best is pretty damn good; c) just showing up, just trying as much as we both know you will means more than anything else, and you ALWAYS show up; and d) you, my friend, are worth giving up some of the time you are pouring into others and giving it to yourself. If you don't do everything else 100% -- say just 90% -- then you will have time to sit and read those last 10 pages of your book. Or finish your coffee while it's still warm. Or actually sit down to eat your lunch instead of eating it while standing and finsihing two or three other things. Or just sitting, and enjoying it. No guilt. “Good enough” can net you that 10 minutes.
I have news for you: you are imperfect. You are not actually going to be able to Do.It.All. Why not, you ask? Well, don’t forget, you ARE human. Besides, remember this: when you let your kids see you not be perfect, it allows them the chance to allow themselves to make mistakes, too. And when they see you accept being “good enough” (or learning from your mistakes and growing, rather than getting upset and uptight), they too will start to emulate that ability (which is a good thing. I’m sure you’ve heard of growth mindset…). Being good enough doesn’t mean shrugging and giving up when things don’t go your way. Instead, it is allowing for the possibility that in every ‘oops’ there is an ‘a-ha’ to be found. By not being perfect, we start seeing possibilities for change, for improvement. Being “good enough” does not mean you are not nurturing. Beyond that, letting your kid not have Perfect Mom present allows him to learn how to do things for himself. Your kid packing his own lunch box is not your failure, my friend. That is the perfect opportunity for him to learn how to do one more thing for himself… and you know what? If he hates his pickle-and-peanut-butter sandwich, then he’ll learn not to pack that for himself next time. These are as important life lessons as are those like tying shoes, ABCs, and favorite Christmas traditions. Being a “good enough” mom actually helps your kid develop their own individual and independent skills that will take them from under your roof to the great big world … and if you ask me, the more self-reliant they can be out there, the better.
Confession time: I am really really bad at basketball. Really bad, but you know what? When my kids ask, I go out there, and I play with them, and they remember my being there more than if I manage to get the ball into the net each time we play (which, let’s be honest, will never happen anyway). It means more to them that I am out there, spending time with them than if I can amaze them with my athletic prowess. I show up. I don’t do it especially well (i.e. basketball. I can do others much better!), but I show up. And I laugh and giggle just like they do. In real life with the people who love you best, this is what matters more than if you ace every contest and can out-frost Betty Crocker. Show up, be present, be real.
Good enough means being there when you can. Good enough means ordering in when you need to. Good enough means googling the darn long division (there are about a dozen methods, anyway). Good enough means taking a Me day from work when you just need it. Good enough means taking the time for a mani/pedi because you need the down time. Good enough means using a mix for the cake or brownies. Good enough means making sure the ones who matter know how much they matter to you.
So you don’t wear high heels to pick up your kids from preschool. So you wear the same exercise pants two days in a row. Sometimes your gift wrapping job on the gift for the birthday party just isn’t going to look like something Martha Stewart created. Be good enough. And accept that it is, indeed, good enough. This is the truth, my friends: people do not see your flaws as vividly as you do. (Okay, admittedly, nor will they see your accomplishments as clearly, either.) What they do see is you trying, and they appreciate it. Especially those people who matter the most.
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