Good Enough: Perfection and Parenting

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“Am I doing this right?  Am I screwing this up?  Is this Good Enough?  Am I Good Enough?”

These are the thoughts that have played in my mind on an infinite loop from my earliest childhood memories until this very moment.

Behavior.  School.  Friendships.  Career.  Relationship with God.  Marriage.

“Am I doing this right?  Am I screwing this up?  Is this Good Enough?  Am I Good Enough?”

It has taken me a lot of years to fight my way to Hope and Grace instead of perfectionism.  To believe that His Grace is sufficient for my failings.

But when it comes to parenting, it is still such a fragile battle.

“Am I doing this right?  Am I screwing this up?  Is this Good Enough?  Am I Good Enough?”

I am way too broken and faulty to be anywhere close to perfect when it comes to raising these kids.  And the stakes feel immeasurably high.  Ridiculously, immeasurably high.

Here is what I know:  I push when I should retreat.  I fuss when I should show grace.  I control when I should relinquish.  I worry about things big and small, and when my anxiety ramps up I find myself snapping and yelling when I should be breathing and holding my children close.

I know these things, and these things tell me that I’m definitely screwing this up.  I’m definitely not Good Enough. And I’ve not been Good Enough for quite a few years.  My oldest is 17, and as I think about launching her into adulthood I feel the questions bubble back up and catch in my throat again and again.

“Am I doing this right?  Am I screwing this up?  Is this Good Enough?  Am I Good Enough?”

 

Recently I’ve come into contact with the idea of “The Good Enough Mom” and it’s really made me stop and think about what it means to be a Good Enough Mom.

The Good Enough Mom makes mistakes, she pushes and fusses and controls and worries.  She also admits to those mistakes and apologizes, she tells her children how much she loves them.

The Good Enough Mom struggles sometimes with anxiety or body image or depression.  She also tells her children about these struggles, she does not hide them, but has honest conversations and lets her kids know that it is ok to feel however you feel, and ok to ask for help.

The Good Enough Mom is too tired and grumpy to play one more round of “Hide and Seek” when her kid begs five minutes before bedtime.  But she does find energy to snuggle him up and laugh at his “Guess What? Chicken Butt!” joke and kiss his beautiful cheeks.  And the energy to truly find those cheeks beautiful even as they curve around his snaggled smile to say the word “Butt” one more time.

The Good Enough Mom hears her daughters talk about teen pregnancy and cannot hide her fear. But she also hears her daughter says that she would run away from home before telling her mom she was pregnant – and she pulls her close and tells her emphatically “NO”.  That she should come home and be loved on and hugged and supported.

 

That oldest child of mine is in the deep weeds of selecting a college.  She will graduate from this spring, and I have little doubt that she is going to choose to go somewhere outside of the realm of my control.  All of my coaxing for the local state college where she could still live at home, or be close enough for me to drop off food and grab a hug (and verify she is still breathing) seems to have gone unrewarded.  I would be lying if I said this didn’t make me anxious.  I worry about her safety, her career choices, and her finances.  I worry about how sad I’ll be when I don’t see her face often; I worry about her handling the weight of college life, responsibilities, and choices.

But, the truth is, that while I worry about these things, I worry about them far less than I had anticipated.  I will miss her.  Terribly.  But I’m so incredibly proud of who she is and where she is.  She knows what it is to work hard and to succeed; what it is to work hard and fail.  To cry through disappointment.  To dance with joy and laughter.  To be afraid and to feel secure in love and acceptance.

She knows that it is ok to feel tired or stressed or uncertain.  She knows that it is ok to need a break and to take that break.  She knows that it is ok to ask for help – whether it is help finding the laundromat or coffee shop, or help in the form of a friend or therapy or medication.  She knows that we love her and it is ok if she makes mistakes and needs to try again or back up and change course.  She knows that Jesus loves her.  Always.

The ebb and flow of my parenting successes and failures, the grace with which this child has navigated those tides, gives me so much hope. Hope that all of my children may learn from my struggles and mistakes.  That I may give them the space and depth to make their own mistakes, to recognize their own weaknesses, but that they will never feel trapped by them – that instead they will see the Grace that exists within each new breath.

The Good Enough Mom isn’t perfect.  But she shows her children strength and bravery and failures.   And in this way she teaches them about the truth of the messy world and the reality of mistakes and the beauty of the grace that comes with an apology and starting anew.

And in this way, she is perfect.  She is exactly what her children need in order to be equipped and adjusted to live and thrive in our broken existence.

I’m messing up.  I’m screwing up.  But with Grace, it’s still Good Enough.  I’m still Good Enough.

 

 

One thought on “Good Enough: Perfection and Parenting

Add yours

  1. BRAVO!!!! Welcome to the “reality” of parenting!! If we always try our best, come from a place of love, and apologize when we screw up, we are being “Good Enough”!!

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