“Good Enough” is Good Enough!

mother and son

When is “Good Enough” is Good Enough? Always.

Any new parent will tell you how much they worry.

“Am I doing this right?”

“What should I be doing?”

“Is this good enough??”

And that last question – it’s a killer.

Why?

Because it hits at the core of who we are as parents (or specifically – mothers). We worry if we’re doing right by our kids. We worry that we’re giving them the best, doing the best or at least, doing whatever we’re doing in relation to raising them, good enough.

The good news is this: what you’re doing is good enough. Trust me on this one.

As the mother of four, I know how it feels to worry about every little thing that you feel you may have done wrong while raising your child. I know how it feels to question yourself and wonder if you’ll “ever get it right,” because you know, this parenting thing – it’s tough!

My story, while atypical, isn’t as much in terms of how my parenting style has changed over the years. Like so many women, my parenting style has gone something like this (notice the progression):

First Child – “Omigoodness, am I doing this right?!” (Sterilizes everything the child comes in contact with)

Second Child – “I think this is right…”(Sterilizes some stuff, pretends not to see the non-sterilized stuff)

Third Child – This is right. I know it is (No sterilization at all. Immunities, ya know?)

Fourth Child and Beyond – Child is eating off the floor and mom is thrilled that there’s one less meal to prepare.

The point is this: parenting – like anything – gets easier over time. Whether there are 5000 four kids in the mix or just one who keeps you on your toes, you begin to trust your instincts about what is acceptable in terms of how you manage parenthood.

Retro mom good enough

 

Because really – at the end of the day, don’t we all know the difference between “right” and “wrong?” Ironically, it is these differences that we so diligently try to teach our children, yet ignore the fact that we ourselves know deep down how we’re doing as parents. We’re often our own worst enemies, despite the fact that we’ve done the best that we could, given the situation at hand.

We’re often our own worst enemy

Perhaps it’s the constant pressure and increasing interference into our lives by those who profess to know better. Perhaps it’s our own psyche and nagging doubts that keep us second-guessing every decision regarding our kids, despite our best instincts. Perhaps it’s because we live in a world where parents – and let’s be realistic: specifically mothers – are judged so much more harshly than they should be and held up to a standard that would be almost impossible for most capable people to live up to.

Regardless of the cause, the effect is obvious, and no one – not mother nor child – is benefitting from it. The pitting of parenting styles and parents themselves against each other has done considerable damage to those who are just getting their bearings on raising their children. At the end of the day, does it really matter if you’ve chosen Attachment Parenting over Free-Range Parenting? Advocates of co-sleeping and home births may chafe at the knowledge that some of their peers choose to bottle feed and return to work outside the home immediately, but should they? Conversely, some of us lazy parents feel continual guilt about how we’re not baking cookies and volunteering for the PTA like some of our contemporaries, but should we, really? Life’s short and there is always another show to binge-watch on Netflix, so why feel guilty about the decreased “quality time” that you’re supposed to be (but not) spending with your kids? When all is said and done, you’ve done your best and that’s what your children will remember.

I’ve written a lot about being a “latchkey kid” and spending quite a bit of time alone as a child. Both of my parents were working and I recall (fondly, by the way), coming home from school, letting myself in to my house and settling down to watch a couple of uninterrupted hours of TV before my parents came home from work. It was heaven. I was more than happy to indulge myself in the sappy ’70’s after-school fare on the tube, from The Brady Bunch to Gilligan’s Island. Those two hours of alone time made me into the independent person that I am today, and in spite of my parents’ guilt at having to work and leave me alone, it did no damage. As a matter of fact, it made me stronger and more independent than I might have been had my parents sheltered me more, after school and beyond. And that was the case for my friends as well.

Yet we’ve moved into a time now where every perceived slip, every decision and every parental choice is put under a microscope for closer scrutiny. If said decision does not fall under the standards of “acceptability” by the invisible yet powerful forces that be, we worry that we’re doing harm to our kids by our actions (or by our inaction).

We’re not.

We’re doing just fine.

“Parenting is all about quality, not quantity”

And trust that our children will not look back on their childhood with regrets that their parents didn’t fit into the stereotype and thoroughly unrealistic standard of Super Mom or Dad. Regardless of how much TV they watch (or in this day and age, how many video games they play on their iPads), the answer has little to do with whether or not they’re being parented well or not.

Good parenting is, after all, about quality, not quantity. It’s about making the best of the time you spend with your kids and giving yourself a break, even if that time spent doesn’t have you in “SuperMom” mode.

At the end of the day, your child wants to spend time with you; what you choose to do during that time is secondary. Ditto re: what you’re feeding them. Sometimes, boxed mac and cheese or a hastily-made grilled cheese sandwich is good enough for your child’s dinner. Don’t sweat it.

The point is that we all do what’s best for us and for our kids, the best way we know how. And despite what you may have been told, what you’re doing is good enough.

 

 

 



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