One of the best things about Cooper's preschool is a group offered to all parents called Parent Growth. It is a weekly meeting lead by the director of the preschool. We cover various topics related to raising young children. It is a cherished time to share ideas, commiserate, and gain wisdom from other parents.
A couple weeks ago we were given a copy of an article called The Good Enough Mother by Elaine Heffner, CSW, EdD. I finally read the article and loved it's conclusion.
"A good enough mother:
- loves her child but not all of his behavior.
- isn't always available to her child whenever he wants her.
- can't possibly prevent all her child's frustrations and moods.
- has needs of her own which may conflict with those of her child.
- loses it sometimes.
- is human and makes mistakes.
- learns from her mistakes.
- uses her own best judgment.
I've been an over achiever my entire life. I'm beginning to realize that this is part of what makes motherhood so difficult. As I devour parenting books, attend parenting classes, and read parenting blogs I'm always thinking, "I could do this a little bit better". I see what others are capable of and I think that I can do that too, that I should be doing more, doing better.
Since moving to Columbus, which has also been the locus of becoming a parent to two children instead of one, I've had some of my worst, most detestable parenting moments. I have uttered repugnant words to my children and husband. I've behaved in ways that I'm ashamed of.
But maybe what is the worst thing of all is I never stop beating myself up for doing so.
Maybe instead I can just accept myself as I am, accept that I am achieving everything I can as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman. Maybe I am the good enough mother. And maybe, just maybe, that is the best place to be after all.
It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to tell Cooper I just need a break from him and he needs to go play in his room for a while, even if he cries and screams his way up the stairs. It is okay for Ellery to fuss in her exersaucer while I put the finishing touches on dinner, throwing a few cheerios her way hoping they will make her a little happier. It is okay that sometimes I scream in frustration, slam doors, mutter exasperated words under my breath.
It is all okay because Cooper and Ellery and I are lucky enough to enjoy everyday moments together, every day. And there is so very much good in our days. So very much.
Please, take a moment and watch Gretchen Rubin's beautiful video The Years Are Short, which really captures how the everyday moments of being a parent lie at the heart of what is really important.
Tomorrow morning, when I spend five minutes helping Cooper decide what he wants for breakfast, when I wrestle Ellery's clothes onto her squirming body, I will remember that those are the moments, the moments I will never get back. The beautiful moments of being a parent. And I will cherish them and hope that they can last a little bit longer.