Be good enough
This week my youngest started school nursery. I had spent so long wishing for this day to come, when it finally did arrive and I was walking away from the school all I could feel was sadness.
Sadness not because he was now at nursery full time but sadness at the times I had with him that I didn’t get to have. The joyous times playing at the park, visiting soft plays, weekly library trips to Bookbug sessions (Rhyme Time), happy toddler group sessions. I had many of such times with his older siblings but not with him due to an undiagnosed auto-immune disease (see previous blog posts).
My little boy for a long time woke up constantly in the night, his eating habits were all over the place, his bowel movement (let’s not say anything about that!), his moods would switch from playing happily to behaving as though he was possessed. Now I know that this was because he would have been in excruciating pain, then I didn’t know. I would weep and weep, wishing for him to be in childcare away from me. It took a lot for me to take him anywhere, never knowing how the time would go.
As a mother, strike that, as a human, it can feel as though there are constant pressures directed at me from everywhere. Pressures to be this and that, pressures to do this and that.
A couple of years ago I came across a series on Netflix about motherhood called ‘The Letdown’.
Series 2 has very recently been released and is there for you to binge on. I unashamedly managed to watch this second series in the space of less than a fortnight. Yesterday I watched the last episode and this is what the character who is the equivalent to a health visitor in Australia says in response to being asked about motherhood:
‘In the 35 years I’ve been doing this I have noticed a huge shift…and I think it’s got a lot to do with expectations. Not just of motherhood, of life, and women. There’s so much pressure to be perfect now. You know, the perfect mother, partner, employee, friend, woman. And it’s impossible, obviously, but… I get the sense that a lot of women think they’re failing, when they’re not. You know, they’re just not meeting these ridiculous expectations. And I suppose the idea of motherhood has changed, it keeps changing, its about so much more than mothering now, but babies will always be babies. That stuff never changes. And they’re wonderful.’ (S2:E6: “Shameless”)
I love that phrase: ‘… but babies will always be babies. That stuff never changes.’ Wow! How true?! From the moment we start talking about having children we start putting these expectations on ourselves, however the baby, well it’s a baby. What the baby requires, what children require is for us to do our best, not someone else’s best. I recently came across Donald Winnnicott (a paediatrician) who first coined the phrase “good enough mother” in 1953. After observing thousands of babies and their mothers, he came to the conclusion that what babies and children need is a mother who is ‘good enough’, that it is ok, in fact, it is even good for a mother to fail from time to time.
Again, wow and thank you Donald Winnicott!
Going back to my youngest, I can continue to feel sad about all that I didn’t do with him or I can rejoice in knowing that that was then and now is different. I am never going to get the time I feel was lost with him, it’s just not humanly possible. I can rejoice in the now and embrace each day as it comes around and look to be a ‘good enough’ mother for him.
Things change all the time, like, every single day we are being given different messages about what is right and what is wrong. How many times to bathe our children, only eat organic foods, only wear bamboo clothes, don’t swaddle your baby…
My belief is as long as you are not putting your child, yourself or anyone else at risk – do what is right for you and your child.
As humans, how much better this world of ours would be if we hung on to the fact that we simply needed to be ‘good enough’. That’s all we need from each other – to be ‘good enough’.
I believe that all of our ‘good enough’ lives put together can play a part in creating a kinder, positive and holistic community. When we are not spending our time trying to meet unreachable expectations, when we are not spending our time comparing ourselves to others- we can spend that time creating a community where all are seen as ‘good enough’ and valued as such.
For the sake of our children, let us be examples of ‘good enough’ as opposed to ‘not enough’.
Go ahead and tell yourself that you are GOOD ENOUGH – try it, believe me it will change your life.