Good enough mom.

i_am_enough_700

Photo by Andrea Scher

He texted, “What question do you not want me to ask you? What question would you find disconcerting?”

I didn’t write it. I didn’t dare. But what came to mind was this: Are you a good mother?

Because all I can see sometimes is how I fail them.
How I’m not good enough.
How I don’t read to them long enough, and I shout, and I don’t volunteer in the classroom.

I hear about homemade muffins + family dinners and I think about our meals –  haphazard, no one staying in their chair, at least 3 different meals at play, not enough vegetables.

I think about the cavity on Nico’s tooth, the one right in the front – how on earth did he get a cavity there? and I can see how I delay getting him to the dentist. I imagine him with a gold tooth right there in the front and I feel mortified. I’d rather they just pulled that sucker out. He doesn’t need it, right? It’s just a baby tooth.

And I can see of course that this is all about me,
and that hidden part of me,
those two words inscribed somewhere inside my wounded heart: not enough.

And of course I will take him to the dentist, but I can already see myself rehearsing my lines – “I told him he needed to brush ALL of his teeth, someone (not me) has clearly been giving him gummy worms…”

However you slice it, there it is – bad mother.

Do all mothers feel this way?

I suppose if I really thought I was a terrible mother I wouldn’t be writing this – the shame would keep me hiding. But how do you get to good enough mother? and what is that anyway? There’s no way to tell.

Imperfect mother. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt that says that. Or maybe we need a hashtag #imperfectmom

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Maybe so I don’t feel so alone. Maybe so you don’t. Maybe we’ll all start wearing t-shirts that say funny things. Maybe it would help in those moments when you stare at that other mom – that perfect mom – from across the playground. Maybe it would help if she had a shirt that said, “I don’t know what I’m doing either. I’m totally in over my head. Let’s be friends.”

 

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Hi, I’m Andrea

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31 Comments

  1. tea_austen

    Something to think about:
    The mom I know who has the best relationship with her kids (who are all grown now) is the one who tells them, “We did our best–we made a ton of mistakes!–but we did our best.”

    We’re all just doing our best. And making our mistakes. But doing our best. xo

    Reply
  2. carolyn

    every post i’ve read by you, i always think. she gets it. she shares so much of how we all feel as she’s telling her own story. thank you for always being present, keeping it real, risking vulnerability. we all come out ahead this way. we are nodding, yes, yes, yes. that’s me, too.

    Reply
  3. Melissa

    One of the most popular Facebook posts amongst my friends last spring was a white coffee mug with the bold inscription, ” World’s okayest mom.” It was re-posted a million times. Kind of took the pressure off. I think we struggle because we care.

    Reply
  4. Barbara

    “I did my best and I made a ton of mistakes and I did my best.” I hope to say that to my son tomorrow. He’s 43 and still hasn’t forgiven me for something. I suspect it’s for being me, some mistake I made by being me.

    So I ask all you moms who haven’t perhaps said this to your own mom who is still alive,”I know you did your best and I’m grateful.” She might really appreciate it. I sure would.

    Reply
  5. Briana

    Great, truth-telling post! Thank you so much, Andrea. Yes, I think all mothers feel this way. They must, right? It can’t be just us.
    Love and hugs!
    Briana

    Reply
  6. Jenn Locke

    Love your vulnerability, Andrea. Mothering is hard. And somehow we always seem to forget the million things we get right, obsessing instead about the few times we get it wrong. I’m here to remind you – and all the other mamas out there – of all the times you get it right. Plus, I want that shirt that says we should be friends…

    Reply
  7. Norita

    I love this post, thanks Andrea. And that Tshirt idea you mentioned…
    Maybe I will Fabric Paint my own scrappy T with the coffee & mustard stains:
    Perfectly-Imperfect Mom :0)
    Own it!
    Xox

    Reply
  8. Meg

    If it makes you feel less alone, my son, also named Nico had 8 cavities when he went to the dentist. It was a shocker and so hard for me to let it go and realize I really don’t have control over very much. Thank you for sharing. Keep doing your best and know you are not alone. We are united in imperfection.

    Reply
  9. Allison

    “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” 🙂

    Reply
  10. Quigley

    I am. Consistently inconsistent. I am also. Inconsistently consistent.
    It feels like then, maybe mostly, I’m ok. Sometimes. Mostly.
    Xx

    Reply
  11. Anna

    Once during a coaching session, you asked me who did I think was a great mom … and to describe her. I told you about a friend of mine who had largely raised her son on her own, but with the help of her village — mostly women. I still think she is the “perfect” mom — because she loves her son, tries to do what is best for him without cultivating dependency, and does her best to let him unfold as a person. And frequently, she turns to me and asks me if I (!) think she is doing the right thing… that last part in your post is the answer — everyone, no matter how put together they seem on the outside is imperfect — and as you have said many times, perfectly imperfect. Just who you are — that is the good enough mom! I think your boys are truly blessed to have you — and that you are equally blessed to have them.

    Reply
  12. Joy

    Your post came into my email tonight … weird because I haven’t had any from you into my inbox for a long time, … could have gone into the spam but regardless, here you are. I felt compelled to read, smile and then now reply … just because I want you to know you are not alone at all. Obviously, the moms that posted believe that too.
    I want you to know that all that imperfectly perfect jibber jabber stays with you … forever! However, you understand it better as you get older and yes you ARE ENOUGH! You are the BEST at being a mom, you are the BEST at making the decisions you make and your children know this even though they don’t normally let us know this often. And … I’m talkin’ even with they’re in their 40’s.

    Your post popped up … at a time when tempers … maybe tempers is the correct word … okay, maybe Opinion Flinging would be a better term.
    I’m okay now, I think, but no matter how old our kids get, when they criticise something you’ve done in their life TO them as in ‘child rearing’ … (that you don’t remember doing because they’ve held onto a notion that is a misunderstanding rather than a reality from 30 years ago) … it still wounds your heart when they fling it at you. At the same time it makes you try and make sense of their understanding, not yours, from that long ago too. AND … you find yourself apologizing for something you have no idea about.
    Anyway, after that long winded scenario, what I am trying to say is, moms hold together everyone’s life within the walls of our homes, … everybodys. We are the do all, see all, hear all, know all, … whether we know it at the time or not. We will be the first to feel the guilt, love, pride, fear, compassion and passion for every first, last and in between moments in our children’s lives. It never ends and through all of it, we are definitely enough. I have to tell myself that even now when my daughter who is living under my roof again after 22 years on her own, with her two babies, 1 and 3 in tow while she is going through a divorce.
    I am watching these wee ones grow and discover and give so much love out that my heart is overflowing. She is still learning to be a Mom at this late stage in her life and I have to bite my tongue sometimes when I see what’s coming =0), but it’s all going to be okay.

    Life is messy, busy and loud but if you take everything in stride, study what is happening, take that ‘bad mom’ feeling as a sign that deep down you know there is something you need to do rather than let it define you, then you’ll always do the right thing … for that moment.

    Breathe, be patient and take time for yourself to be ‘quiet’ … you will always be enough!

    Enjoy it all, as it is all but a moment in time. It’s all imperfectly perfect.

    Reply
  13. blackbird

    My children are grown.
    I was never a parenting blogger but I’ve blogged a “personal blog” for over ten years and that blog often contained things about my children.
    When did we start measuring ourselves and our skills against each other? When did we start to use these spaces to compare ourselves – to rate ourselves?
    Do you think the mothers in Mongolian yurts compare themselves to other mothers they know? Do the mothers in war-torn countries look at parents elsewhere and find themselves lacking?
    I realize this is redundant.
    I’ve read you for years and years.
    Why/how are women even asking this question?
    Our children grow, with us, without us, with our best intentions, with all of our insecurities.
    On the days we yell, on the days we snuggle, with cupcake, without, we are all they know.
    We are enough.

    Reply
  14. bella

    Girl. Huggin’ ya tight. Because I don’t know one single perfect mom.
    We are all just doing the best we can – and that is ok. I think it’s an inherited feeling in women or mothers to look at others and compare ourselves (mother or not) … or, if we were blessed with having that “perfect mom” (I know I wasn’t), we strive to live up to her standards.
    That perfect mom at the park – the mom showing her best made dinners on instagram? It’s a front. It’s one of their best, shiny moments … that’s what people show + share. When they start getting real, they show the mess, the vulnerability, and the I don’t knows. I wish your heart ease – mom to mom – and comfort in knowing you are not alone. So not alone. And you are enough. All love.

    Reply
  15. Gail

    Yes. When we do more sharing like this, we chip away at the illusion of perfect and celebrate our naked enoughness in beautiful company. Courageous post!

    Reply
  16. gracy

    You’re so brave and beautiful Andrea. You inspire us all. We are all #wayimperfect and #yesstillsoworthyoflove

    Reply
  17. EB

    I feel you sister. You are so not alone. “Good enough” mom, human, friend, daughter, insert here, is what my tshirt/mug says. We show up with our perfectly imperfect or imperfectly perfect selves and ala Brene we step into the ring and that is friggin brave and in itself an act of love. You and your work is inspirational. Thank you❤️

    Reply
  18. Julia

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 You are never alone 🙂

    Reply
  19. Tisha

    Holding on to these words tight today. I feel all of this much to much too. Thank you for this. And to those that have been brave and commented, thank you too. Each one of you is so encouraging. Much love to you.

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    I’ve joined the club of imperfect mothers… Thx for voicing the unspoken.

    Reply
  21. Sheri Gagnon

    My Mom, a wonderful parent, always says “We did the best we could with what we knew at the time. When we knew better, we did better.”

    Reply
  22. Beth

    Oh how I love you! Joining you…#imperfectmom.

    Reply
  23. Lara

    When Greg and I first split up, it was every man, woman and child for themselves. And they were teeny little kids still then – 3 and 6. I remember going to pick Rory up at a birthday party. She looked like she’d come down out of the woods to join the fun. God knows when she had last been bathed. I put her in the car and I could smell her in the back seat. And I thought, “She smells like neglect.” Those were not easy days. And then you get little reminders like, maybe we need to up our game around bathtime, etc. And sometimes you can do it, sometimes you just can’t. And you thank god for baby teeth – because they’re just for practice. Love you! xoxo

    Reply
  24. Trish

    You are the best kind of Mother: you show up. You share your flares of fabulosity and your flaws. You are vulnerable and present. You share your humanity. Life is not for shadowing our shortcomings but saying out loud what needs to be said: You are here, you are loved, we will embrace you online and inperson when the moment arises as it has now. Andrea, you are light in this world that is pure sunshine. Ben and Nico are loved and you show up that is half the challenge. There will always be bills, cavities, raised voices, unmade beds. In their memories and now in their world, their Mother, Andrea Scher truly loves them and that is the best gift of all. Let us love you in the inbetween.
    oxox
    Trish

    Reply
  25. Elisa Mikiten

    And I always look at your gorgeous photos of your gorgeous kids and think, “God, I really should take more pictures!”

    The one gorgeous picture I have of my kid (just had it framed!) is the one you took in a photo shoot when he was six.

    BTW, my kid had a cavity at Niko’s age. That tooth fell out just before you snapped the photo, capturing his charming gap smile!

    Reply
  26. Cheryl

    I’ve been following your blog since way before you had children. All I can say is that if I were a kid, I’d want you for my mom.

    Reply
  27. Corinne

    My guardian angel whispered in my ear to look you up and read your latest post, and I did, and it was just what I needed. Appreciating you… 🙂

    Reply
  28. Kerilyn

    Yes. I love the TShirt Idea.. I would ABSOLUTELY wear it at pick up and drop off at school. Yes.

    Thank you SO much for sharing… It helps me too.. not feel so alone.

    How do we get to “good enough”…

    the ONLY answer I have is the phrase..
    “Know Better, Do better”. *Thank you Oprah.

    It really helps me when I get down on myself. I didn’t KNOW better (I really didn’t). But once I do.. I really can choose to DO better.

    It helps me to know I always have a CHOICE.

    I only have one kiddo (not sure a 2nd is in the cards, sadly) and I cannot IMAGINE how much harder it is, inside.. with two or more.

    It also helps Tremendously to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I’m completely convinced that ALL MOMS *I’m sure dads do too in their own way. feel this way.

    Helps me to know we are one in this.
    Grateful for you today.

    Reply
  29. Leah

    Shouting, not volunteering at school, not all sitting down together for lovely communal meals, yup yup yup. I do/don’t do all that.

    Unlike many of my peers who had difficult permanently unsatisfied Boomer mothers, mine was supportive and attentive and lovely. She still is, but she’s a brilliant person, and I can see now that she was never really able to find herself professionally. My father’s career kind of sucked all the oxygen. Would I have forgiven her for being slightly less present and wonderful and pursuing her own goals slightly more? I like to think so, but who knows.

    Reply
  30. deb taylor

    I am locking arms with you.

    And here to tell you…the day will come when your son arrives as an adult and says “thank you Mom” … for the ways you raised him. { living proof } it will happen

    Reply
  31. Kathleen another imperfect mom

    YES YES YES!!! Way to crack that egg right open Andrea- As a mom with three almost adult children (still living with me) ~ I witness their young adult trials and tribulations every day…and I think…this..this sadness, insecurity…it is all my fault…I was enough as a parent..I was too insecure…I was blah blah blah..negative thought…negative thought…and I look at one of my friends and how her two girls are now out of the house and seem to be so independent and assured..they graduated college and had no problems with depression or doubt…and I say…what have I done wrong? We are all fumbling..even the mom who has baked those cupcakes and brought them to school…we are all “pretending” to be so “good” at this parenting thing…when the truth is we are all unraveling…sometimes more than others…but if you lead with love…and unravel with love…and cut yourself a break because you are only human- if you are honest and loving…what more could they ask for…what more? Gold teeth look great on Pirates! And even without gummy worms or loads of sugar Nico still could have gotten a cavity…some things…oops all things we have no control over…we just guide them and like others have said get up every day…and do the very best we can with what we have at THE MOST DIFFICULT JOB-YES (and the most rewarding) that you will ever have…I just LOVE your raw real honesty…we all need T shirts- mine would say …”This moment is ok, right now…”

    Reply

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