Good Enough

I just read this article on "good enough parenting" in Mothering.com. This article really struck a chord with me, because as a first time mom, and something of a perfectionist, I don't want to mess my kid up. I want to be the perfect parent. I feel a lot of pressure from society to make the right choices. I've found myself side-tracked on several occasions in my quest for "sleep hygiene" or breastfeeding or starting solids exactly the right way. I buy books, scour the internet. I generally just follow my instincts, but then I get cold feet and do a lot of research to make sure my instincts are backed up by a pediatrician or research. I've worked with so many screwed up kids, that I guess I came into this thinking that it's really easy to be a bad parent and that screwed up kids are the result of bad parenting.

Laurel had a fussy stage. There was a good two months when I could not put her down without listening to agonizing wails. She wanted to be held and cuddled and nursed all the time. And so I did. Day and night and night and day. We got through that time, although it was taxing for me. But probably not as taxing as it would have been to listen to her cry all the time. Lots of people told me that I was spoiling her by holding her all the time. But in my heart, I knew that it was what she needed and that eventually she would grow out of it.

Last week, Prachi, Sarah, my mom and I took the babies to the movies to see Babies. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you really should. It follows four babies from different parts of the world through their first year. Lovely sound track, very little dialogue. It's mostly a condensed version of what I get to watch every day...human development unfolding before my very eyes.

She's becoming more independent, and we're starting to see glimmers of what she might be like as an older child. Fiercely independent. Highly observant. Outgoing and friendly. Like I knew that she would, she's starting to sleep better. All on her own, without any particular sleep training or method.

Having a child has been the single most positive influence on my life. Ever. It's not because parenting is so great. (Let's face it y'all, wiping up poo and being a 24 hour milk bar are not exactly fun ways to pass your time.) It's positive because I want to be a good role model for her. Teach her what she needs to know to be happy in life. But there's a tension there, because in order for her to really learn how to be a good human, she'll have to watch me make mistakes. Hurt people. Make amends. Move on. Her little eyes are taking in so much right now, and I'll probably feel even more pressure when she starts to talk and asks me the hard questions about what I do or say.

This idea about being "good enough" as a parent can carry over into other aspects of your life. Perfection is not required to maintain relationships. It has to be ok for us to screw up with our spouses, siblings, friends or colleagues. When you take away the drive to do exactly the right thing all the time, it makes it a little easier to relax and be yourself.

My birthday is on Friday. I'll be 31. Ten years ago, I think I imagined myself as a mom Some Day, but it seemed very far off. Now Some Day is Right Now. Where will I be ten years from now?


Anonymous said...

10 years from now you will be having different kinds of fun with your 10 1/2 year old! Happy Birthday Katy.
Love, Aunt DC

Anonymous said...

katy, You are a wonderful parent.I really enjoy being able to watch you experience all the different stages with Laurel. It brings back so many memories of raising Ryan.Just love and encourage them to be happy with who they are. They need to know you love and respect them for themselves. have a wonderful birthday, Love Aunt Donna and Uncle Tom

Anonymous said...

Your such a great Mom,
I just can't wait till you have 3 more kids!!!!
Aunt Laine

sarah said...

(as I sit and read your blog while Kai is awake and shrieking in his crib after a nap...) This is a very thoughtful and insightful post. I think you're very wise, particularly about the lack of need for perfection, and in how we're modeling healthy human behavior for our children. I was thinking about that too, recently, as I nagged Jeremy about something.... someday Kai might have a partner and would I want him to act the way I was acting? It's very hard for me not to try for perfection in relationships, and especially to let people down. But sometimes when I try not to let people down, I lose myself/ let myself down. That's not good either. Anyway, if kids never see us fight, then compromise and make up, they won't know how to do that either.

Anyway, this is becoming a book. Sending a big hug your way, and see you tomorrow!