The Tale of the Good Enough Mother

October 11, 2012 1 Comment

I don’t know about you but for me, the reality of motherhood is nothing like what I imagined it would be.

There was a time when I thought that temper tantrums and irrational behavior were things that other people’s children did. That my own children would never!

We all know what happened next. And every day for the past 6 years.

The reality of my own mothering journey is that I’ve had some rough days. There has been a lot more yelling than I ever imagined. I have behaved in ways that I’m ashamed of.

Many days I have felt much less than a good enough mother.

Lately this takes on a whole new level when I find myself trying to keep my kids busy as I finish “just one more thing” for my work. I hear myself telling them “I just need 5 minutes. Well, maybe 10. Can’t you see I’m working here?”

Last night, while making dinner, I gazed out the window and wondered “maybe it would all just be easier if I gave all my attention to my kids. They need it, and deserve it.”

I would stop asking for 5 more minutes and give that time to them. I would greet them full of love and a smiling face instead of the disheveled and distracted multitasking mama they see so much of the time.

Then I remembered an article I received while attending a parenting group when my son was in preschool. I dug the article out of my files and gave it a much needed re-read.

From “The Good Enough Mother” by Elaine Heffner, CSW, EdD.

There are no perfect mothers and no perfect children. If we accept our own limitations, we are better able to accept those of our children and of life itself. In that way we become good enough mothers. And good enough mothers are real mothers.

One of my greatest limitations as a mother is that I am not happiest when all my attention is going towards my children. I need something else. I need my work.

This is also what I see as one of my greatest gifts to my children, and not a limitation at all. When I accept it.

Giving up my work and giving all my attention to my children would not result in temper tantrum free days or perfectly happy and well adjusted children.

Most days we are happy. Most days we laugh a whole lot and go to bed feeling an enormous amount of love surrounding us.

The reality here is that I am a good enough mother. And so are you.

Find your limitations. Embrace them. Be good enough. Be real.


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