Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being a Good Enough Mother

The other day was one of those days when I felt like a parenting failure. It all started during the night. I couldn't sleep. Not because of the kids, I just couldn't turn my brain off. So I started my day even more sleep deprived than normal. No amount of coffee was lifting my fog. Cora was fussy and the only thing that would keep E occupied for more than five minutes was Mickey Mouse. It was pouring rain out for most of the day which meant we couldn't go outside. On days like these, that would have been ideal. In my sleepy fog, I just didn't have it in me to get creative and entertain a toddler for hours on end. So a Mickey Mouse marathon it was. Just to break up the day, we did head out to Target and I did get a little creative with some shaving cream finger painting which lasted for all of 20 minutes.

As I was finishing up the dinner dishes that night, I thought about what a slacker Mom I was during the day and felt guilty. "Mommy Guilt" over other things made its way into my thoughts as well. I feel guilty that I didn't exclusively breastfeed my kids, I feel guilty that E barely eats a vegetable, I feel guilty when E spends too much time on the iPad or if I leave Cora in her swing when she's awake. My list of guilty feelings could go on and on.

I was still in my funk when I moved into the living room to pick up toys and saw my Minnesota Parent Magazine. I remembered an article I read in that issue about letting go of the "Mommy Guilt" and embrace the concept of the "Good Enough" mother. I glanced at the article again and a quote from the article really stood out to me, "There is no one 'right' way to raise a child. Being a good enough parent, providing love, support and safety, but still making mistakes, is all that is necessary for a child to thrive."  

I know I make mistakes with my children and will most likely have another day like I did this one. However, there is no doubt my kids are loved, supported and kept safe. Some days they may watch a little too much TV or not eat enough vegetables. But in the big picture, does that stuff really matter?  Is that going to prevent E and Cora from growing up to be confident and kind adults that contribute to society? Probably not. As a Mom, that's all I really want for my kids. Me feeling guilty over those things sure isn't helping either. If anything, the guilty feelings make it worse because then I try to overcompensate in other ways.

To me, embracing the "Good Enough" mother concept means giving myself a break and allowing myself to be OK with having a hard day. I know I'm doing a good job as a Mom because I love my kids unconditionally and every decision I make regarding my kids I make with their best interest in mind. Next time I feel I'm being a slacker Mom, I have to remember that I am good enough and I am doing my best. And thankfully, God gives us a new day to do better.

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