§ We came to this world to LIVE OUT LOUD.
Are You a Good Enough Mom?
Do you ever feel like no matter how much you do, you are not a good enough mom? Or don’t do enough as a mom?
I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, my wise therapist said to me, “Remember your goal is to be a “good enough” mom. Kids will take everything you give them and still want more. You can never do enough. Don’t strive for perfection or doing enough. Strive for good enough and trust that they’re getting all that they need.”
Three girls and nearly sixteen years of parenting later (Yikes! I can’t believe she is turning 16 next month!), I often think back to that conversation.
I know I’m a good enough mom. My girls are thriving and I can honestly say I do my best at any given moment.
Except that there are moments when I’m exhausted, stressed out or upset about something going on in my life. And then I’m short tempered, impatient and sometimes just too tired to deal with whatever the latest crisis is.
I sometimes yell or get controlling or my Inner Soviet General kicks in (I was born in the Soviet Union) and “super sensitive me” shows up more like “Just suck it up, kid, and let’s get on with it”.
I’m not proud of myself in those moments.
In fact, I FEEL REALLY BAD ABOUT THEM after the fact.
And here’s what I do:
- I take stock of what’s going on with me. What am I feeling? What do I need at this moment to take care of myself? Just like they tell you before the plane takes off, “put on your own oxygen mask first”. I have learned that I have to meet my own basic needs before I can meet the needs of others.
- I do what I need to do to take care of myself. It may be a time out to breathe deeply or some EFT tapping or to lie down for 5 minutes and meditate. Whatever it takes to regain my center and feel nurtured.
- I talk to my child/children. I apologize if I yelled or was snippy or just plain couldn’t be there. I own my stuff and commit to work on it. I validate their feelings if they are upset with me at this point.
- We talk about the underlying issue. If I was snippy or yelled because I was angry/fed up with their behavior (it’s the repetitive behaviors that we have already talked about a gazillion times that eventually have me lose my cool), we discuss it and come up with a plan to address it, including accountabilities and consequences if the behavior is repeated. Next time I don’t say anything or yell, I just follow through on the consequence. (Example: If my teenager’s phone isn’t plugged in downstairs for bedtime by 9:45 pm as we agreed, she doesn’t have the privilege of using it the next day. This worked like a charm. When she broke the “phone curfew”, I didn’t say much except that, as we agreed, I was keeping her phone the next day. She never broke the “phone curfew” again!)
- And if I simply wasn’t there for my child to the extent that I would like, I just own up to it. I apologize and tell them that I was too exhausted or busy or upset about something going on with my own life but that I took care of myself and now I’m ready to listen or to help them. I believe that not only is this honest but it models to my girls that it’s ok to meet their own needs first and then choose to give to others afterwards.
The last point brings to mind something else my wise therapist said at the time: “It’s not what happens that damages a child, it’s how you handle it afterwards. Always be authentic. Own your mistakes. Take responsibility for them and apologize. Make amends and teach your children that it’s ok to be human, to make mistakes, and to get do-overs.”
And I guess that’s the biggest learning I have received over the years– My toughest task as a mom is to do the best I can to help my girls learn to feel good about themselves, even with all the imperfections that make them human.
How can I do that unless I work on my own perfectionism and accept that I just need to be “good enough” – to allow myself to be vulnerable and show up in my imperfect humanity, mess it up sometimes and just “do over”?
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