When I became pregnant with my first child I thought a lot about what kind of mum I was going to be. I had all sorts of idealistic ideas. I would be a calm, earthy type mum. Always there with adventures, advice and home baked goods.Think Felicity Kendall in The Good Life crossed with Delia Smith. The fact that I am an easily irritated,city girl who is absolutely rubbish at baking never crossed my mind. I would give birth and metamorphasise into Mrs Perfect.
So imagine my surprise when after my son was born I found myself still…well myself! It was then that I discovered the art of ‘good enough parenting’. These are the things that I have learned.
Most days I make a delicious home cooked meal for my family(well home cooked at least). Some days I open a tin of macaroni cheese or stick some potatoe waffles under the grill (hooray for the slummy dinner).
Most of the time my children are happily playing together (well okay sometimes they are ripping shreds out of each other but that’s another story) or engaged in a fun activity. Some of the time they are watching Scooby Doo or playing on the Nintendo.
Most of the time I am calm and patient with my children. I listen to them and set clear fair boundaries. Some of the time they have driven me bonkers all day with their shrill streaking, wrestling, drooling, and general baffoonery. On those occasions I have been known to (gasp!) shout and hide in the toilet.
What no one tells you is that when you give birth you are also fitted with a guilt chip.This means you will always feel a little bit guilty no matter how you parent. I am prone to perfectionism so have beaten myself up about my parenting no end. I do believe though that good enough parenting is, well, good enough.
It literally takes my breath away how much I love my children (and I’m not prone to gushy-ness). I would do anything I could within my power to give them a brilliant childhood. However, I have realised that me being happy and not completely knackered or overwhelmed, is important too. So although I am not necessarily channeling Felicity or Delia these days, my children are happy and so am I.
I can see where the problem lies, your ideal mix of people don’t have children!!! 🙂
You are beating yourself up for nothing Missus (!) that lovely sentence about your love for your children taking your breath away means your children are very lucky kids xxxx
Aw thanks for the blog love. I officially feel less guilty already.
It all boils down for me to respect my kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t shout at them, but I try to remember they are individuals and deserve my consideration. I also believe in benign neglect and just let them get on with, being around if they need me.
I think we all have a picture of the ideal parent (usually nothing like our own mother) but have to work out the best solution between pie in the sky and hard reality. As you say, we don’t change overnight. Sounds like you’re doing a good job. 🙂
Thanks. I’m a fan of benign neglect also, think it fosters independence and creativity.
Good post, and one to remember when you are having one of those “Oh, I want to run away” days.
We all have good days and bad days, as long as the good times outweigh the bad shouty moments, then everything is fine.
Yes thanks. Fortunately the run away days are less frequent than the oh my family are fab ones over here.
This struck a chord with me. I tried and failed to be the perfect mum and in the process became rather burnt out. For me a good enough parent is about balance, emotional honesty (its okay to feel ratty and irritated from time to time) and provide enough consistency in who you are to your children as they thrive on predictability. Sounds like you have found a happy balance in your parenting shoes.
Thanks. Yes I get burned out pretty regularly but then it’s hard to get a break from three small kids. More cake for both of us.
Nice point Sarah about giving children consideration. I like to remind myself (and my hubby) that our children will remember what we do to them and for them for the rest of their lives. Ella, we have often discussed this topic, haven’t we? I too had idealistic views of parenting – my childhood was so happy that I didn’t realise the flip side of that is not necessarily so happy. Being a parent is tough and being the tough guy as a parent (having to say no, having to discipline) even tougher haha (am I allowed to use tough that many times in a sentance?) Plus I always wanted to do as well as my own parents and find it a hard bar to meet.
I like how you have worded this blog post. You have a lot of the smart gene, honey, and the caring gene is over-flowing, to the point that you sometimes get forgotten.
P.S. Thanks for the toilet hiding tip x
Thanks Pam. Yeah it’s true you and I have chatted about this before, I love to analyse. That’s why I’m loving blogging.
i think you have covered all bases there quite brilliantly!! its funny the expectation we have for our children and what parents we think we will be until we have children lol!!
great post as usual made me chuck xx
Hello again ….. just to let you know I have awarded you with the Versatile Blogger. Have a suspicion you probably have this already … http://oldermum.co.uk/2011/11/adroit-older-mum-that-be-me/
Lovely post. Have shared it on my weekly links post today: http://freeyourparenting.com/2011/11/13/sharing-sunday-16/
Thanks , glad you enjoyed it.
A lovely, honest and concise post that also struck a chord with me. What you have shared is much of what I have experienced as a mum and also what I get the mums I work with every day to understand: let go of the guilt; enjoy the ‘you’ in your parenting; keep the balance tilted to the positive as much as you can; look after yourself and good enough is actually more than enough much of the time! I will be bookmarking this post for my clients to read. Thank you.
Thanks , glad that it is going to be useful.
This is such a beautifully written post. I love the line about the guilt chip… no matter how well I think I’m doing things I always beat myself up about ways I could do it better. Shame the guilt chip isn’t removable… just for a night here or there at least! It sounds like you’re a wonderful mum. 🙂
Thanks and I’m sure your doing a fab job too.
Oh yes indeed how we think about how we will be and how we should be!
Recently my neighbour, who is the quietest and most lovely lady and such a calm mother, divulged that she had shut all the windows in the house just so she could shut herself in the bathroom and shout ‘ARRRRGHHHHHHH!’
There’s a lot we all feel but rarely share x
A good friend of mine who is very contained once revealed she had thrown (and broken) a coat hanger when her children wouldn’t nap. Perhaps if we were all a bit more open we could all feel less guilty ? Thanks for your comment.