WAS I GOOD ENOUGH?
“Am I a good enough mother?” I have asked myself this question many times over the years. As a parent, I always tried to give my children as much as I could. I myself didn’t grow up in a household with a lot of money, but I had a mother who always sacrificed whatever she could to make sure my needs were met.
The battle within me comes from obstacles that involve the battle of the material world and the world of emotions. The material world is a hard obstacle to overcome. Society has already set in motion an age where most children have more by kindergarten than my children had in high school. But the emotional obstacles are the ones within ourselves that we can try to change.
“When I was a Kid”
It was the quiet moments we shared that I remember most about my childhood. Sitting with my mom at night and watching our favorite shows. I especially remember the nights she let me watch Carol Burnett with her. My mom was a huge ice cream fan and I can still taste the sundaes she made on those nights. She loved vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and wet walnuts. If it was a good week for us if we got whipped cream on top, but I never missed it when we didn’t.
The only toys I truly remember from my childhood was my one Barbie, and for some reason, when I was 6, I asked for a toy rocket. I loved that rocket. I do however, remember the summer nights we went to the local fair. She was such a champ getting on the Twister with me. One night it shook her so much we came off the ride and her glasses were crooked on her face. (Excuse me while I wipe the tears of laughter.) The smell and taste of the dirty water dogs and cotton candy. The night we went bowling…watching her make her first attempt at bowling and sliding on her bottom. She was a trooper. Yet, these are the things that made my childhood wonderful. Her time. Her presence. Her being a good enough mother.
“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided, but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ~ Richard L. Evans
“I Hope They Remember”
Now that I am the parent, of two grown children, I wonder about the things that mattered to my children. My son is 29 and my daughter is 21. Having raised them as a single mom, I didn’t really have the money to buy them all the things they wanted. I know there was a lot of sacrifice on all our parts. I had to work 10-12-hour days to be able to afford our rented home and all the responsibilities that came with that. I remember the night, 3 months after my separation from their father, that my son came in and said someone was towing my car. I had to surrender it. I could not afford that and the necessities that came with being a single parent.
My children sacrificed a lot in their early years to keep our family going. At the age of 16 my son took care of his sister when I had to work the night shift. Once a month as “payment” I would get him a video game. My daughter didn’t have many play dates as I wasn’t always there to drive. I remember one of the events that broke my heart two-fold was the day my mother passed. Not only had I lost my best friend, I had to cancel our family vacation to Disney, that we had saved so hard for, to pay for the funeral. Was I good enough?
My hope is that they remember those nights after a 10-hour shift, we went to the local park to play a round of HORSE on the basketball court. Or the nights we would go to the beach with friends and a picnic in tow, and stay to watch the sunset while we played a mean game of wiffle ball. I hope they remember all the nights we cuddled on the living room on the couch to watch a movie, or the hugs they received when they had a bad day. There were so many small things we shared as a family. Many laughs, many dinners at the table, walks on the beach, game nights, movie nights, but was that good enough?
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~ Angela Schwindt
“Being Good Enough”
I am not saying that you shouldn’t buy your kids toys, or take extravagant vacations if you have the means to do so. It is always challenging with children especially when they spend their entire early existence learning to be social beings. They can be easily frustrated and become angry and blame their mothers for their frustrations.
It is disheartening to me that our culture has put a premium on happiness and most mothers measure their own success on their child’s happiness. They worry whether their children are unhappy. That feeling you have of not being good enough, in part, comes from the children themselves, without their awareness they are doing so. Who wouldn’t love the perfect mother? Who wouldn’t want to have a mother who gives them what they want and allows them to do what they want? But in reality, children are going to be frustrated at times and the good enough mother is able to tolerate her child’s anger. Being a good enough mother, you have to be able to tolerate a measure of your child’s unhappiness.
The good enough mother really gets to know her child, is able to listen without judgement, and most importantly, understands what they are saying through their words or behaviors. Remember that feeling you get when you are heard and understood: our children feel the same way. That feeling of being heard and understood is more important than always obtaining what they want. It is the spirit of a good enough mother.
As a good enough mother, remember that nothing compares to the little moments in life. Maybe we thought we weren’t good enough ordering take out or allowing them cake for breakfast – but those are the magical moments for our kids. Just like the ice cream sundaes I shared with my mother.
Our kids need us, not things. As long as we are sharing and giving of our time and our love, we are all “Good Enough Mothers”.
“What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” ~ George Eliot
Please take a moment to meet