When I was pregnant with my daughter, my therapist listened to my endless worries and rants (like I paid her to do) and at one point said to me, “Mrs. Odie (not her real name), you just have to embrace the concept of ‘the good enough mother.’ Because you’re never going to be perfect.” I am going to screw up my kid left and right. So is Odie. ESPECIALLY Odie. Just kidding, love you baby, MWAH! Just kidding again. Odie doesn’t read my blog. He thinks it’s self-indulgent drek and he LOVES Kelle Hampton.
When I first read “Enjoying the Small Things” and “Dooce” and some other “mommy blogs,” I felt enormous pressure to fulfill the supermom role. I tried baking and cleaning and taking pictures of my baby’s feet. But baking just makes more dishes and cleaning is something I’m not anxious to make more need for and I’m a terrible photographer. I also realized I was trying to make my blog a copycat of other blogs I had read. Maybe I also needed to embrace the concept of The Good Enough WRITER.
I don’t live in the Merry Old Land of Oz. And thank goodness for that, because I hated “Wicked.” In my world, kitchen sinks smell and toilets back up and husbands resent their wives for the sex they aren’t getting. This mommy stayed up all night nursing for the first six weeks, Googling “green poop,” “SIDS,” and “attachment parenting.” This mommy had to do deep breathing exercises to keep from picturing her baby morphing into Gage Creed, back from the dead in “Pet Semetary,” wielding a matricidal scalpel.
One of my sisters (I have like 3 or 5 of them) posted a long response on one of my blog entries wherein she criticized the stereotype of the mom who bakes, crafts, and pirouettes in jeggings across her perfectly decorated living room floor while Skyping with Oprah and Dr. Phil. It makes many of us feel bad. Like we’re not doing enough. I’m supposed to be CRAFTING? Scrapbooking? Who said that you were allowed to use these words as verbs?!
Yesterday, while Baby V was splashing around with her water table on our front deck, (we have no yard, nor any fairy-inhabited woods for her to play in) I decided to take off her clothes because she was soaked and it was very warm outside. She looked so cute scampering about naked, I decided to take some pictures. But I couldn’t find the camera. Then Baby V pooped on the deck (a poop deck!), stepped in it, started crying and proceeded to climb into my lap. All the while, I laughed hysterically and yelled for Odie. He took one look at the mess, shut down his inner Virgo who wanted to scream, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE NOW?” at me, and commenced to mop poop off of Baby V while I held her thrashing legs at arm’s length. I don’t think Photoshop has a feature that would’ve helped with that scene.
I’m going back to work in a few days. The guilt keeps me up at night. What if… What if… I like the daycare that Baby V will go to, but I couldn’t afford the one I loved. It would’ve cost more than half my salary, bringing up the question, why go back to work? Friends and strangers assure me she will do fine. Babies are very adaptable. Then they tell me that someday she’ll call the daycare teacher “Mommy” and tell me to “talk to the hand” when I go to kiss her goodbye. All meant to be comforting, I’m sure.
My girl cries when I leave her at daycare and is often crying when I pick her up, but the teachers tell me she is getting better every time. And that’s good enough.
I read other mommy’s stories of how they put their drowsy babies into their cribs at 7 p.m. after a soothing bath, calming music, infant massage and a few stories, and the little darlings drift off to dreamland contentedly clutching a stuffed animal and sucking on a pacifier. These mommies then tuck a blanket around their sleeping angels and tip-toe out of the room. Presumably to go have sex (WITH FOREPLAY) with their husbands.
My daughter will only go to sleep if she’s nursing. And even then, even after the bath, the music, the books, she will still fight me. She’ll crawl all over our bed (we do The Family Bed, mattresses on the floor), talking and giggling. She’ll do her baby version of “downward dog.” She’ll jump on the bed shrieking “Fly! Fly!” Sometimes she’ll crawl to the floor, wave at me dramatically, grin and yell, “BYE BYE!” before running down the hall to the living room. Cackling to herself the whole way.
When I try to tuck a blanket around her, she kicks it off. She HATES blankets. If I give her a pacifier or a bottle instead of a breast, she will throw it at me. Not randomly either. With disdain and precision. If I give her a stuffed animal, she tosses it behind her with a wail that sounds like, “how stupid do you think I am?”
But she will nurse to sleep and she will sleep for 10-13 hours a night, so that’s good enough.
I am a good enough mother. Odie thinks I am a phenomenal mother, and his opinion counts most of all. My child is hitting all of her developmental milestones, gaining weight, growing taller, and that’s good enough. In fact, I am grateful to all of the forces in the universe to have a normal and healthy child. Many don’t. Even if I have to go to a job that causes me to leave my child in daycare, even if I don’t take her to the park as often as other mothers do (or SAY they do), even if I don’t have a blog that leads to a book deal and the inevitable awkward shilling of products meant to blend seamlessly with my commentary, that’s good enough. In truth, it’s never been my goal to be famous. I wouldn’t want to travel and leave my daughter or husband. I’m super lazy. I like to watch “Big Brother” and “The Closer” while the baby naps. Then you get people like me saying nasty things about you on your blog. It’s not for me.
Being a wife, being a mom, being a teacher. It’s good enough. In fact, it’s pretty damn great.