Friday, October 17, 2008

Good enough

Today I was speaking with a woman who, as a child psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in treating children with ADD and/or anxiety disorders (I'm not saying WHY I was speaking with her; you figure that out for yourself :-)). She's also expecting her first child. In the course of the conversation, I asked whether she experienced the phenomenon that my mother did when she was pregnant with me and my dad was in the midst of his pediatrics residency, i.e. thinking that all the weird cases you treat are disturbingly likely to end up manifesting in your own child (I would bang my head against walls! And be born with six fingers! And get leukemia before I turned three!).

Her answer surprised me a bit. "No," she said, "because after everyone I've seen, I've come to believe in what the research shows: all a child needs is one 'good enough' parent. Not a 'perfect' one. I don't know whether that will be me or my husband, or some of both of us, but between us, our child is sure to have a 'good enough' parent."

Wow! Can we all feel a little better about ourselves right now? If, like me, you've barked at a child this week or rushed them when you really wanted to let them take their time, or questioned whether you made the right disciplinary decision, or been just plain tired at the end of the day, you were probably still 'good enough.' Easily. Or your spouse, if you have one, was able to be that at a moment when you weren't.

And what's more, it occurs to me, the more we can define success for ourselves this way, the more we can do the same for our children, who desperately need some grace from us. Can we love them as 'good enough,' without expecting or even hoping for 'perfect'? It seems much more likely if we start with ourselves.

For me, today, 'good enough' meant, after some, shall we say, tense moments surrounding the getting-into-the-car ritual this morning, swinging by a charming pumpkin patch on our way home from co-op and letting the kids each pick out a specimen of their choosing. Ian, who rolled his to the car, called his "the pumpkin of my dreams!!!"


Julie said...

So cute! Pumpkins! We don't have many pumpkin patches here:( But I must find one! I love those home made roasted pumpkin seeds!

Jenny said...

I love how the pumpkins they chose correspond to their respective sizes.

(Channeling Stuart Smalley) "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

Seriously, though, it does take off some of the pressure to know that perfection isn't required...from me or from them.

Tracee said...

you said: Can we love them as 'good enough,' without expecting or even hoping for 'perfect'? It seems much more likely if we start with ourselves.

I'll one up you on that: Can we accept and love them and ourselves as perfect w/out expecting or even hoping for anything than Who They/We Are Right Now? Anything else seems to me, to be loving them/ourselves on the conditions of those hopes and expectations being met. What if they aren't met? What if all we get is Right Now? Just something I've been thinking about lately as I read through Unschooling books and message boards...