I’ve long held the opinion that parents inflict their own unique damage on their children as well as, hopefully, an outweighing amount of positive influence. I already see the good and the bad in me in my small children. I battle with the idea of needing to be the perfect parent – as I know lots of other parents who want the best for their children do. I genuinely believe that the vast majority of parents are doing their very best – at the time they are doing it – with the resources and knowledge they have. So I give you: The Good Enough Parent.
1. Some Days You Are Mary Poppins
Actually, some days you could teach her a thing or two. Your children and house are clean (spit spot), you glide out of the front door in the morning whistling a merry tune and your well nourished children gleefully skip into school without a care in the world. Other days: your house looks like it’s been burgled, which is a relief really because you forgot to lock the front door so any prospective burglars will presume that yours has already been done. Your children are crying because they can’t actually take an entire train set to nursery and they’re hungry because they refused their breakfast. You have to tell them to eat their biscuits on the school run extra fast so they’re not still chewing and crumby around the mouth as they walk into the classroom. Fear not: As the Good Enough Parent you know that the rough comes with the smooth and it doesn’t really matter because you are doing your best.
2. Some days Annabel Karmel has nothing on you
Freshly prepared, well balanced, tasty food for the whole family? Of course. Why ever not?? And what’s more – they actually eat what you’ve cooked and tell you they love it. Some days you don’t even think about biscuits or wine because why would you? They don’t need you and you sure as hell don’t need them. Then there are the other days: the days when you’ve downed a gallon of coffee before 9am, your children have eaten toast for every meal and your diet is wholly sponsored by McVities. Not to mention the wine in the fridge calling to you like a beacon in the never ending trek to bedtime. It’s ok though because as the Good Enough Parent you know that days like this don’t really matter.
3. Some days you could probably run your own toddler group
Some days you own it. Your children boss collective play in a cold hall with other children. You can happily sit on the sideline with a cup of tea or actually play with them whilst they cheerfully share toys with other less well behaved children. They and you know all the nursery rhymes and join in with reckless abandon whilst happily smiling at other mothers who you can casually chat to later about how jolly it would be to run your own group. Then there are the other days – the days when your hair is so dirty that your only option is sports clothes so you can pretend you’ve just been to buggy fit. The days when as you walk in you know you shouldn’t have bothered because you don’t know anyone there are the clique fortress is impossible to break into. Your children absolutely refuse to play with anything apart from the toys that other children are attached to and set about their business of forcibly removing all toys from all children. They throw the biggest tantrum ever because they want two biscuits and they probably wet themselves too, just to annoy you. It’s ok though because as the Good Enough Parent you are confident enough to know that everyone has a bad day and it won’t always be like this.
4. Some days you should definitely be on the cover of Mother and Baby Magazine
Some days you look brilliant. Your hair is shiny and your fringe is actually doing what it is meant to. Your clothes are clean and well coordinated and when you catch a glimpse of yourself in shop window you think ‘yep looking gooood’. Some days are less Mother and Baby and more Horse and Hound. You’ve run out of dry shampoo, can’t find your concealer and all your clothes are dirty and snot stained. You wear leggings and hoody because nothing else fits and you can’t tolerate any clothing that doesn’t feel like you are carrying your duvet around with you. It’s ok though because most days you look good enough. The Good Enough parent looks normal and good enough to make them feel okay about the world. You also know that feeling good about yourself is important but doesn’t define you. It’s Good Enough.
5. Some days you may as well change your name to Neil Buchanan
Craft? Yes please. Messier the better. Today you will fashion an educational, beautiful, Pinterest worthy craft out of the contents of your well stocked craft cupboard and your recycling bin. Your children will listen carefully to your instructions and follow them to the letter. Tada! A beautiful homemade gift is produced before elevenses of fresh fruit and herbal tea. On other days, you are incredibly reluctant to prize the lid off the PVA glue and half heartedly give your child some things to do indiscriminate sticking with. Your 1 year old will eat so many sequins that in a few hours you will be cleaning up an inevitable disco poo (this happened to me yesterday – imagine, sequins, glitter … a pom pom) which you only just resist photographing to send to your friends. You will answer the call of the wine in the fridge and the biscuits in the cupboard. It’s ok though, as a Good Enough Parent you know that your children probably enjoyed themselves regardless of the quality of the final product and if you can’t face home-crafting then that’s fine too because what is nursery for anyway?
As parents we are all Good Enough and we should be happy with that (something I battle against, as a perfectionist). Nothing matters at all as long as children are loved and feel secure in that love. You are Good Enough, in fact you are the best for your children. Disco poos and all.