Being a Good Enough Parent

They say motherhood is one of the hardest things to do. It is a test of endurance and a leap of faith. When we have children, we are told to raise them right. Don’t spoil them too much. Show them appropriate discipline. And gosh darn it, you better be the best mom out there because if you aren’t, we will all judge you.

When I became a mother for the first time, I remember taking my three day old baby home and staring at him, thinking what were the nurses thinking by allowing me to take this human home without adult supervision? I was terrified. My husband was just as terrified and I remember sitting on the couch, baby in the carrier from, just hoping he doesn’t wake up, have a dirty diaper or expect anything from me.

I was sad when I didn’t have the instant motherhood gene kick in right away. It wasn’t like the Hallmark moments I saw on TV. I didn’t hear soft music or have a dreamy look on my face when I picked up my newborn. Instead, I was sleep deprived, disheveled and my boobs hurt. This is not what I signed for. I expected to be suddenly skinny, a breastfeeding goddess and have a perfect baby who cooed and babbled. I held a lot of mommy guilt. I compared myself endlessly to the other moms in my local MOMS club who appeared to be what I thought were perfect.

I wanted to be the perfect mother because that is what I thought I needed to do to raise the perfect kids. I bent over backwards being a mom I was just not capable of being. I thought I was a bad mom because I just couldn’t keep up. I felt guilty when I didn’t make my own baby food, not enrolling my kids in the best preschools, sending my kids to best high school. All this guilt of not doing what I though a perfect mom would do drove me crazy. I thought I wasn’t going to raise the best kids because of my inability to be the perfect mom.

I was so incredibly wrong.

Being a Good Enough Parent by Sarah Heil Brenny

Eventually, I learned I didn’t need to be the perfect mother anymore. Perfection is not a healthy way of being. I am a human. I make mistakes. Teaching my kids how to get back up after you fall is what makes a person stronger. Allowing my children to see that I goof up, sometimes in a big way, gives them permission to make mistakes and learn from them.

Although I try to be the best I can be as a mom to my three kids, I know that there are times where I am doing an okay job and that’s it. On those days, I like to say I am being a good enough mom. Being a good enough mom is nothing to be ashamed of. It is the realization that sometimes just having your kids dressed, fed and safe at the end of the day is success. I don’t always cook home cooked meals because some days fast food is the easiest thing to do. There are days were the kids have to remind me to drive them somewhere because I forgot. Some days I tell my kids no when they ask to have their friends over because I am too tired to clean the house. These examples don’t make me a bad parent or the best parent. It makes me a good enough parent.

Good enough parenting stops parents from adding more pressure to themselves so they can instead use their energy for their kids. Energy to a parent can often be a fleeting thing. Perhaps it is time to use some of the energy used to reach impossible standards for good. Taking time for yourself and allowing your kids to see a relaxed mom versus a stressed out mom will provide life lessons. There are times when you can be the best parent but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all the time. It’s ok to be a good enough parent. Allow yourself some leeway. I know I have and I have become a better parent because of it.

Sarah Heil-Brenny

Sarah Heil-Brenny is a single divorced mom of three teenage boys who lives in a suburb of the Twin Cities. Pack leader of two dogs with a combined weight of 9 pounds. She is often found knitting in inappropriate places, watching way too much Netflix, posting too many pictures on Instagram, and munching on anything gummy. Sarah pretends she is an extrovert but she is a closeted introvert who adores spending an obscene amount of time by herself and a few awesome friends. She is an adolescent psychotherapist who has a private practice. Photojournalism was a passion that turned into a business but really it’s because she can fly her drone. She does this all the while going to school for her PhD in Social Work. Someday she hopes she can just sit, relax and not stress about her yarn stash. Until then, she lives her chaotic life. Welcome to it.

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