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Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Enough...Can Be Great!

Why did I say that?
I forgot to show up for your school performance?
You're in the principal's office again...what did I do wrong?
Here I go...I can feel it coming...I'm screaming again!
Mother's guilt! If you didn't feel like a failure from time to time you wouldn't be normal. We do make mistakes...terrible ones sometimes...no mother is exempt! We are flawed and our kids will be too. We walk through this stuff with our children, sometimes handling it right, sometimes getting it wrong. Then there are those times that we get stuck mulling over where we went wrong...and it paralyzes us?
If that is where you are today as you read this...I just want to encourage you. I think we imagine that mothers everywhere are doing their job perfectly, and we couldn't be more wrong! I remember someone telling me once that "we compare our insides with other peoples outsides." In other words...we know our mistakes, our inadequacies, and it makes us feel like a pile of doo doo. We take that knowledge and then compare ourselves to someone else who looks all put together. Guess what? Inside she feels like doo doo too!

So let's make a pledge...hold up your right hand...I'm waiting...ok, repeat after me...I promise to imagine that every woman I come in contact with today feels like a steaming pile of doo doo. I will not compare my crap to her crap. I will instead look at her with kindness, think about her desire to do right by her family, and know that like me...she will come up short. Because, that is the truth!
We run our lives like a sprint...manic and determined...as if every moment is critical. In actuality it's a marathon. The experience is accumulative. I think our job is to be "good enough" parents every day. Good enough parenting is intentional, thoughtful, and loving...it is not an excuse to screw up. It is realistic, knowing that we will all make mistakes even with the best intentions, and gives us space to be a person with many dimensions. Perfect parenting is really overrated and a completely impossible goal! If I'm aiming for perfection, I'll live the rest of my life overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt is not a positive motivator...LOVE IS! So start with loving yourself a little more. Take a look at your mistakes, learn from them, let go of the past, and work on your "good enough" strategy for today.

A couple of final thoughts on this that I find helpful...
*Find a trusted friend (or your husband if that works for you) who watches you interact with your children, and who will also tell you the truth. Then confide in her where you feel you fall short. Ask her to help you brainstorm ways to get past the trouble spots you encounter. With a plan to fall back on you will feel more in control.
*If you pray...DO IT! Pray alone. Pray with your kids about areas they need to grow...and areas you need to grow to be a better mommy/daddy. It helps them to see this as a team effort...not just you vs. them.
*Meet with each child privately (once in awhile) to talk about how it feels for them to be in your family. Ask if they have struggles or need something specific from you. If they have a challenging behavior, this could be a good neutral time to ask them to help you know how to respond or avoid getting to that difficult place.

40 comments:

elvira pajarola said...

INCREDIBLE ...just as if you would know: I am coming from the school principal teacher right now; about 2 hours ago ( I am always about 8 hours ahead of you, girls!!Italy)..
...and this post just was so right for me, thanks very much, it fortifies though my THOUGHTS; LOVE, PATIENCE, LOVE and INTEREST for my boys and LOVE again....!
GREAT POST!
ciao elvira

Holly said...

Oh mommy guilt. I have so much of it somedays...and other days think I am doing a "bang up job." There is no such thing as a perfect parent...and I have to remind myself of that too. I also find that taking time for myself helps me recharge and refocus. I try very hard not to compare my parenting or our family with others...just trouble!

Holly

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I wish I could tell you that this feeling goes away as your children grow up, leave home and make lives of their own. It doesn't. I think the key is to know that you are doing the best you can.

We used to have family meetings when things weren't working. We would sit around the dining room table and agree to speak calmly and honestly. My husband and I would tell the kids what we needed from them. They loved being talked to like adults. We then let them tell us what we were doing that they didn't like, without attacking them for being honest. It really made a difference (until it wore off and we had another meeting).

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

well said! I love this reminder! In one of my psych classes--stress management, I believe, we had to write out answers to a bunch of questions about our views on the way things should be, our feelings about how we were doing, and any solutions we'd propose about solutions to the discrepancies between where we are and where we want to be. I basically said that I expected perfection in all arenas, and there was no solution other than to lower my expectations. I said this in the margins, in kind of an aside, proving, I thought, the impossibility of the situation--because no one, OF COURSE, should dream of lowering their expectations. My professor basically replied that if I did NOT lower my expectations I was in for a life of extreme disappointment and health problems.

I'm working on it.

Great post!

ShellSpann said...

GREAT POST!! I needed this. I wrote an entry just yesterday or the day before about feeling guilty about missing something at my daughter's school so I was just feeling that!! :)

Willoughby said...

I think you're right on with this post. Everyone does compare themselves to the best they see in others.

I remember being so relieved when a friend of mine mentioned that she forgot about a load of clothes in the washer and had to rewash them because they had gotten "funky". I thought I was the only one who ever did that! It's good to remember that no one is perfect!

Corrie Howe said...

Great post! Great advice. I don't think I could add anything else if I tried.

Raoulysgirl said...

I love this!!!

I think every mom needs a little encouragement sometimes...and if she doesn't, she's blind or full of herself (or something else!). I try to remind myself that I've only been a mom for 8 years. I've learned a lot in that time...but the most important thing that I've learned is that I'm still learning...and I always will be.

Great post this morning!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

What a powerful post, I really enjoyed it. I have been working on not judging other moms, but I still do look at some and think "How the heck do they do it?" Of course, when I was a full-time working mom, I had SAHM friends who wondered the same thing about me...I guess it's all perspective.

Thanks!

Ed Adams said...

Parenting is an experience.

Sometimes it's all thoughts of love and joy, other times....it's all thoughts of murder/suicide.

LMJ said...

I loved this blog. Sometimes, I let the baby sit in the crib while she's grunting and whimpering--it's just that I am very exhausted sometimes. She'll cry a little bit, and I start to feel guilty. I get up, as tired as I am, and pick her up because I'm more guilty than tired. People tell me it's not gonna hurt her if she's stays on the crib whimpering until she falls asleep, but I can't rest myself when I hear her sad little voice.

Hillbilly Duhn said...

I liked this. Mom and Dad's alike need to know they are not alone. And the judging another by your insides to their outsides, perfect touch to your post! That can mean soooo many different things so many ways!

I've felt like a horrible Mom lately, coming down harder on my eldest. But I'd feel even worse knowing I didn't put my all into being his parent, so I put my mommy guilt on the back burner and focus on the fact that, because I love my children, because I want them to be good men, good boys, that it is my job to deal with my mommy guilt but stand strong so that they too, when they become adults, will be able to handle life, and stand strong as they do!

I still wish they came with instruction booklets!

Ms Bibi said...

Mommy Guilt and Me we go long way back. It's my old friend....I know it well.

My kids love Mommy Guilt. It gets them lots of good stuff (just being honest here).

I've been told by many people around me to cut myself some slack....so my hand is up and I promise.

Daffy said...

I don't think I have the mommy guilt thing down yet...of course my beautiful little goofball can't talk in complete sentences yet. Once that happens I'm sure the guilt factor will up itself by 10fold :O)

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I run on guilt. It's what jewish mothers teach their daughters. It's ingrained. It's part of our religion. You get kicked out if you don't have it.

Sissi said...

WOW! This made my steaming pile of poo smell a bit more like roses today ;-) Thank you for pointing out what so many of us know, but file away in the 'save for later date' file in our minds. This is pretty darn accurate when I'm dealing with a hormonal preteen or almost terrible two toddler. *sigh* My mantra: I'm not alone, I'm not alone, I'm not alone. :-)

kys said...

I'm full of guilt. Isn't that what motherhood is all about?

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

This really is a great, eloquent post. I love it and so need it. You might recall a post of mine awhile back dealing with my parenting angst... and from this day forward (or today anyway) I vow to not compare my internal horse dung to anyone else's interval horse dung.
Thank you for that.

Erin M. said...

This was exactly what I needed to hear. I need to bookmark it and re-read it periodically, too.

I am consumed by guilt. I feel like I need too much "me time" and that I yell at my girls frequently. I should hug them more. I should pull them into my lap and snuggle more. I should not feel so tired all the time.

And you're right about comparing to others' outsides vs insides. So true and so well put! Thank you!

Tiffany said...

'we compare our insides with other people's outsides'...that could not be more true. i'm guilty. every. single. day. and i do feel like i'm sprinting--and sometimes, i literally am. we (the husband and i) are so burnt out trying to do the best thing for our family we don't know what direction we're moving in. it is ridiculous and we need to slow down.

awesome post!

ShellyInOz said...

This is a great post, very poignant. When Willoughy said she was relieved to find out her friend had funky washing, it made me think, "Wouldn't a complementary pledge to the 'thou shalt not judge other mommies' be 'thou shalt be honest and admit you mess up'?"

If we moms weren't always putting our best face on all the time, wouldn't it be easier for us all to accept our own foibles and mess-ups?

Matty said...

I'm not mommy, but I am dad, and that makes me a parent too. You hit the nail right on the head with this one. There are no perfect parents, and anyone who claims to be is blowing smoke up your blind backside.

While everyone has a right to raise their children and run their house the way they see fit, I find it distasteful when I read blogs where women claim to have the perfect life....their husband is perfect in every way, their kids are perfect little angels, their house is spotless and perfect, they have the perfect jobs, and life is freaking PERFECT. When I come across a blog like that, I keep moving on.

A nice reminder to everyone, moms and dads alike, that while we all ahve different names, faces, and addresses, we are all in the same boat.

MJ said...

You have impeccable timing. The mommy guilt has been eating away at me with all that is going on with Goose. I know that no mom is perfect, but I hold myself to that standard. I must be the perfect mom or I have let my girls down. Your beautiful post reminded me that we all are human, and just like it is okay for our children to have trials and errors, it is okay for me to have them also.
XO
MJ of Dirty Little Confessions

ScoMan said...

Mothers are wonderful people.

My mum did a great job with me and all of the mothers I know would do anything for their kids. But then again, so would fathers, they're good people too.

Good on parents everywhere.

Laura said...

Short Story: My kindergartener got off the bus..and looked at me with a boo boo face and said " you missed my Christmas Concert in school" and I freaked and said ..What Xmas concert? I didnt know about any concert? She replies..It was a Secret Mommy..it was supposed to be a surprise!!"

I cried...but what could I have done! I Still think about what I missed and that moment I cherish at the same time. SHe is 19 now and I wish to heaven she was 5 again!
Dont beat yourselves up ladies..they grow up whether you are perfect or not.

Tater Tot Mom said...

So well said! That mommy guilt is always creeping up on me when I least expect and and when I do expect it. These are some great words of wisdom that I can call up next time I'm feeling that mommy guilt! Thanks!

5thsister said...

How'd you "younguns" get so smart? Wonderful, sage advice. Thanks for the reminding!

April said...

Mommy guilt sucks! I feel it off and on when dealing with my 10 year old son. I've been raising my kids the same all these years. So when he acts out on a consistent day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute basis, it not only drives me insane, it makes me wonder.... is it that he needs a different method of parenting OR is there really something going on inside that head of his that he is unable to control?

Therefore, he started counseling today. :-) He doesn't talk to me when I ask him how he's doing, how he's feeling, what he thinks he's needing. So maybe, if his new counselor can teach him that he can trust her, SHE can get to the bottom of things. :-)

Allyson said...

well said my friend!

this job i call 'mom' is hard, especially when i'm such a perfectionist. i work hard every day to let that slide...cuz there's no way in hell i can be a perfect mom. :)

hope you have a great weekend!

My name is PJ. said...

As kids begin to get older, the best place to have a good conversation (2 way!) is on a ride in the car.

Kathy said...

I have been at this a long time and it does not get any easier! What I do is the best I can and always remember to apologize when you do wrong. It sets a good example! As PJ says, talk in the car, it works.

JennyMac said...

You two are also so positive and uplifting. Our son is not yet 3 so we have all of this ahead. :)

Rook No. 17 said...

Truly incredible post ladies! You really hit the nail on the head with the way we as mothers can work ourselves into a tizzy, devalue ourselves, and be motived by the wrong things. Love the oath! Great advice! You put everything back into perspective with your trademark wit, humor, and no nonsense style! Love you gals! BTW, Holly at 504 Main mentioned that we're all "neighbors". I feel Nor Cal BlogginMamma Cocktail Convention coming on!

I Wonder Wye said...

This is an excellent reminder for anyone -- not just for mommy guilt.......good read! Thanks

Traci said...

I raise my hand and pledge!

I needed this today, thanks. It touched me to tears. We moms could all be kinder to each other and ourselves. Beautiful post!

Tami G said...

This is a GREAT post and very good advice about how we should look at things.
As a single mommy, raising a boy (now teenager) on a single income is VERY hard... and I'm VERY VERY VERY hard on myself way too much.
Always afraid that I can't do enough...

Thanks so much for the GREAT post

Tami G

Haddock said...

guilt...... yes I still get dreams (nightmares) that I am not ready for the exam and I am in the examination hall.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

There's a little bloggy love for you over at my place!

Shannon said...

GREAT post. I really like your last 3 suggestions, I use those same things myself. In fact now that my kids are older, I am trying to teach my kids those same concepts: have a trusted friend, pray as often as you need, and talk to the people close to you, alone, every once awhile to touch base. Basically, it's about a support system-physically and spiritually. I don't know if the guilt ever goes away, but these things help for sure. My hand is raised in pledge, I'm trying! :)

Kristin said...

What a fabulous post! I know I definitely struggle with feelings of inadequacy as a Mom!