Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good Enough

Recently, a friend told me about the philosophy of the "Good Enough Mother". Apparently some psychologist ~100 years ago came up with the theory that children don't need a Perfect Mother, they need a Good Enough Mother.

This came up in conversation because I was doing one of my anxiety ridden rants about whether or not Jeb is getting what he needs. I shared with her that I lay in bed at night wondering: did he laugh enough today? did he run enough today? was I patient enough with him today? was his diet appropriately balanced today? did I put enough A&D ointment on his bum? his bum looked a little red, didn't it? do I change his bed sheets often enough? Bah. It's exhausting, and I'm sure it's not warranted. I know Jeb is well cared for; it's my anxiety torturing me.

So, the theory goes like this: Children don't need perfection in their parents, they need parents who are doing a good enough job. In fact, perfection is detrimental (as well as unattainable) because children would then miss out on some opportunities to develop important coping mechanisms.

My knee jerk reaction was Well, I hope I am better that just Good Enough! But that wasn't/ isn't the point. The point isn't to lower my standards, or change my parenting and take less-good care of Jeb on any given day so as to be "just good enough", or "just this side of neglectful".

It's to reset the questions I ask myself as I fall asleep at night.

I now try to ask myself: was I a good enough mother today? were his needs met in general? I can honestly answer YES! every singe day. And then I focus on the bajillion times I hugged and kissed him, and I visualize his contented and happy face.

When I shift the perspective just a bit, I drift off to sleep knowing that I am absolutely a Good Enough Mother. What a relief.

This whole second-guessing part of motherhood has been my biggest surprise... probably a good future post.

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