The “Good Enough Mother”

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.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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12 Responses to The “Good Enough Mother”

  1. ASDmomNC says:

    Well, I’m a mommy blogger, and I don’t post about rainbows and unicorns. I also swear a lot. Oh, and if children hitting developmental milestones and having adequate growth is a measure of being good enough, well then I have failed spectacularly. One of my kids is developmentally delayed and mentally retarded and autistic, and the other has a feeding disorder that barely keeps one of his teeny toes clinging to the growth charts. So yeah, not all of us poop sparkles and glitter all over our blogs. I blog for my sanity, which is hanging on by a thread, thankyouverymuch. Come on over, if you enjoy teh krazy.

  2. MrsOdie2 says:

    By the way, Odie insists that I correct the misinformation that he doesn’t read or like my blog. He assures me he does read and like it. And he asked me, “Who’s Kelle Hampton? The Dora cupcake chick?”

  3. MrsOdie2 says:

    ASD mommy, your blog broke my heart! But I also laughed. The cartoon that says “As usual, I’m full of booze and pills” still has me snickering. You really have a way of putting things. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • ASDmomNC says:

      Aw, I didn’t mean to break your heart. I also didn’t mean to sound so salty in my first reply. :/ I blame perpetual PMS. Thanks for popping over to my blog. Glad you enjoyed the booze & pills thing. Heh. 🙂

  4. Chantal says:

    Before the babies came home a friend of mine, who has a 5 year old, had a talk with me about how she is really proud of herself that she’s managed to be an average mom – that there’s less disappointment that way. I like that sentiment. Even though I’m a new parent (they’ve only been home about 2 months), I feel like I’m taking my friend’s words to heart and am shooting for average. Good enough/average moms are always way cooler than the supermoms anyway…

  5. Chelsea says:

    My goal in parenting is to screw up my kids less than my parents screwed up me. It’s a guaranteed win that way.

  6. heather says:

    i just found this blog today. srsly, u are my hero!

  7. Mrs Odie 2 says:

    Love it, Chelsea. And so true.

  8. Sarah says:

    I can relate. I went back to teaching when my oldest was 2 1/2. This is my third year back, and in March 2010, we had our youngest daughter. Both of them go to an at-home day care, which I love, really, but it wasn’t the life I dreamed of (I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom). But like you said in your last line: it is pretty damn great. I often say,
    “I hate working but love my job.” My students are wonderful (this year) but I’d leave them in a heartbeat to stay home with my own. I think that I’m a better teacher after being a mother as I realized that these students have much more in common with my little girl than they do with me. I used to treat them like little adults. They may laugh at the same jokes, listen to the same music as adults, have the same sense of style, but they are CHILDREN. I’d be curious if motherhood has changed your pedagogy. This year, I have a lot of guilt for not being home with the baby like I was with her older sister so blogging and taking pictures to post for my family and friends along with writing helps me muse upon these precious times and realize that the girls have it pretty damn great, too, so I must be a good enough mother and that I really want to be home for myself, not for them. I’m really glad I found your blog.

  9. Heather says:

    I just have to say, Amen. I have two boys and my days are filled with kids flipping over couches, the dog being shot with dart guns and my 2 year old pooping in my closet. I love my children but there is no fairy dust over here either.

  10. Nicole says:

    You are hilarious. It’s never even occurred to me to take pictures of my kids’ feet.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      Over a year ago, when I first found Ms. Hampton’s site, I always felt so inferior after reading it. I wondered if maybe I should have taken more pictures of my daughter’s tiny, precious little feet. Then I thought, “Nah.”

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