The Good Enough Parent
By: Meika Rouda
I don’t know if my standards are lower but I find myself wondering if my parenting is “good enough”. When I say that I don’t mean am I striving to be a better parent, reaching for a higher bar, I mean is my parenting, on the lowest level, good enough. Are my kids safe, loved, fed, cared for. Is it OK if they don’t brush their teeth every night or only take a bath every other day. Is it OK that I let my 4-year-old son sometimes watch two movies in a row. Yes in a ROW. That sometimes he persuades me to feed him breakfast for dinner or eat a cookie before bed. That sometimes I don’t make the effort to be the happy, cheery, always positive role model I am supposed to be. That every now and then I count to 30 before I go into the room to comfort my crying daughter, hoping with all hope that during that countdown she will stop crying and go back to sleep. That last week my son had mac and cheese for dinner, then lunch, then dinner, then lunch and then dinner again. Why? Well he asked for it and I didn’t have the energy to fight it, to try and convince him to eat “one bite of chicken” or “broccoli because it makes your eyes brighter.” That good enough parenting is my standard some days and that is OK. I think I am a good parent, not just a good enough parent but actually a good parent most of the time. I have my faults, I don’t discipline well, I am easily coerced into eating sweets and don’t stick to schedules. But I am a full-time mom with two kids under age 4 and it can be difficult to meet everybody’s needs all of the time. This doesn’t include my dog who never gets walked anymore and has easily gained five pounds in the last year, or my husband who has taken to cooking dinner himself because I am not reliable. Usually I eat whatever mac and cheese my son leaves on his plate and end up going to bed at 8:30 with the kids.
It isn’t everyday I stoop to good enough, some days I am fantastic- I think up clever games to get my son to eat all his dinner and do craft projects and play magna-tiles for an hour. I read books and sing songs and take the kids for bike rides. Some days we bake cookies and have dance parties and I don’t get mad at the mess we made. Some days I am the most loving, fun, and patient parent I know. Every now and then my husband comes home to a delicious home cooked dinner and a cheery wife who asks about his day. Every now and then I even run my dog for an hour. I have actually made everything work out perfectly for everyone some days. And while I wish those perfect days were more frequent than they actually are, they do happen. And when they don’t, I am OK settling for good enough because no one has perfect days all the time. Do they?