If there’s one thing all Moms have in common, it’s feelings of GUILT. We constantly feel guilty about every part of our lives. In this article, we take a unique approach to guilt. We talk about becoming a “good enough” Mom instead of being a “perfect Mom.” And the irony is that by becoming a “good enough” Mom, you actually transform yourself into becoming the Mom you’ve always dreamed of being.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
Do you ever feel this?
That panicky feeling that says you’re the worst Mom who ever lived?
That there was never a Mom as bad as you.
I remember one evening in my room crying my eyes out feeling this way.
The Trip to the Library
My kids were very young. Probably about 3 and 5.
After a long day at preschool while I was at work, I took them to the library. I’ll never forget this. They dashed out of the kid’s section and before I could get them, they started chasing each other.
I had a few books to check out and my turn was next. I only needed about 3 minutes and then we could leave. But those 3 minutes almost broke me.
As my kids continue to run around, and I’m doing my best to get them to stop while waiting for my turn, one lady gave me “THE LOOK” and literally groaned. As if having kids run was literally causing her pain.
I’ll never forget crying hysterically and the SHAME I felt.
There was never a Mom as bad as me and there never will be one.
My kids were rambunctious in a LIBRARY!! *groan*
I Wasn’t A Good Mom
In hindsight, that older woman should have had some empathy for me.
It wouldn’t take a genius to see how stressed out and upset I was feeling. It was obvious I was doing my best in a difficult situation. Also, my kids were young and that’s how young kids behave. It’s a part of life.
However, at the time, I didn’t see it like that. I felt as if something was wrong with ME.
I felt that I wasn’t a good Mother who knows how to calm down her kids.
And afterward, I was useless. I was crying so hard, I couldn’t even make dinner.
I was filled with shame.
How often do you feel that you’re not a good Mom?
I’m going to challenge your thinking today.
What if instead of trying to be the BEST Mom, you strive to be the “Good Enough Mom?”
I know you’re going to argue with me.
Being a really great Mom is important to you. The most important work of your life.
Being a good-enough Mother isn’t acceptable.
That thinking, my friend, the belief that you must be the best mother possible, causes you a lot of pain both to you AND to your kids
It also, I believe, makes you a less good Mom.
Let’s take my example. If my kids were running around and I was embarrassed, instead of beating myself up, I could have laughed it off.
How much healthier would that have been for myself and for my kids? I would have been functional, not crying, able to make dinner, and to be the Mom my kids needed.
Calms You Down
Essentially, when you have the attitude of being a “good enough” mother, it keeps you calm.
And I believe that being calm is one the most important thing you can do to be a great Mom. When you’re calm, you can think. You can get things done. You can be kind to yourself and your children.
And when you strive to be “good enough” instead of “Perfect,” you stay calm.
The Example of the Messy Room
One of my kids does not enjoy cleaning her room. I get after her about it and sometimes I worry.
What if she grows up to be messy and she doesn’t know how to keep her house neat?
Or worse – is there something wrong with me that my daughter’s room isn’t clean? Am I the worst Mom in the world since I don’t force her to clean it?
And then I remember how lovely my daughter is.
She’s so wonderful. She’s kind and special and smart.
And I back away and think — I’m a good enough Mom. She is growing up just fine and I’m doing a good enough job.
If she’s messy as an adult, so be it.
Do you see how me letting go of perfection makes me even a better Mom?
Otherwise, I’d be threatening her. Ruining our relationship. And for what? To have the perfect room?
Sometimes she loves to surprise me and when I least expect it, she cleans it beautifully. With love and fun and enthusiasm. And we make a big deal and laugh and celebrate when it’s clean.
Yes, I’ll take being a “good enough” parent every day over being the perfect parent.
Focus on the “Good Enough”
So the secret I want to share with you —
Don’t focus on being the perfect Mom. Focus on being a good enough Mom.
Because when you do, when you let go of perfectionism, you give yourself a break. You give your kids a break.
And that’s what we all need.
We need some breathing room.
We need space to make mistakes.
We need to be happy with ourselves for trying.
Be Kind to Yourself
I hope this article helped inspire you to be gentle on yourself.
Your kids need a parent who loves them.
They don’t need perfection.
By letting go of your unrealistic expectations, you create calmness in yourself. And this calmness is not only important for your health, but it actually makes you an even better Mom. It’s a win-win for you both and your kids.
Will you join me in the joy of being a “good enough Mom?”