Happy Good Enough Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day. I know, I know...those three words can be really loaded. I promise this writing will not reflect in anyway the inside of a Hallmark card or a Sunday sermon. Both are full of such flowery assumptions and unrealistic expectations about mothers that I am always thinking, “Whose mother are they describing?” In my mind, it is a woman that does not exist without a whole lotta Zoloft.

I really like the child development theorist, Donald Winnicott. He coined the term, The Good Enough Mother, which is just that…good enough, not perfect. I can live up to that because it is real and I am human. I am a good enough mother and have come to embrace it. After 19 years of motherhood, this is what I have come to understand about the myths of the perfect mother:

I love being a mother…sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. It is HARD work. I have said on more than one occasion (usually accompanied by tears on a friends shoulder), “I don’t want to do this anymore. This is too hard.” If you have never said this, you obviously don’t have teenagers.
There is no greater job than being a mother…for some women, but not for all women. I happen to love two jobs (mother and social worker and in that order) and do them both pretty well. In fact, they compliment each other. When my life feels full and rich, it enriches my children too.
My mother is perfect—she never got angry or raised her voice. Okay, either you’re in denial or your mother was checked out! That’s not normal. Real mothers have real emotions.
My mother is always there for me—again, either you have few needs or your mother has no life. Occasionally mothers disappoint their kids just like in any other real relationship.
My mother is my best friend—this one really gets to me. My mother is my mother. She has her friends and I have mine. I don’t want to be that enmeshed with my mom. We can share a more adult relationship, but I still need her to be that wiser, older woman and not a cohort.

I am a good enough mother. I hope someday that if my daughters chose to be mothers, they’ll opt to be good enough mothers too—genuine, honest, happy, enriched, fulfilled, and generous with others and themselves. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Good Enough Mothers.



mNm said...

This is a good reminder for me. I guess motherhood is more of a journey then a destination. I appreciate the insight and will definitely try to just enjoy who I am and the journey I am on, with all of its accompanying imperfections!

Mojo said...

I can't tell you how many mothers I talk to that say how much they hate mother's day. The day is full of reminders of what they are not. I find that incredibly sad. My point in writing Happy Good Enough Mother's Day is to show a different side...a more honest, human, and real side. Of course there are really beautiful, tender moments of motherhood. Those moments are truly wonderful, but they are often the exception sprinkled throughout the raw stuff. Those moments are what keep us all engaged in the process...those moments of grace.

Post a Comment