I read an e-mail this morning which shared this insight: “Perfect is only temporary. ‘Good enough’ lasts longer.” While the anonymous contributor to this little gem may have been specifically referring a to a “good enough” mopped floor, these eight little words should become every mother’s mantra. When you step back and think about it, how many times has “perfect” held you back?
- Want to make some cupcakes? Misha hasn’t exactly made her recipe public. Why bother?
- Want to lose a few pounds? Eh my skin is pretty stretched from those four pregnancies and no diet fixes that so why punish myself with rabbit food? Besides I don’t have the time for a gym and that’s the only way I can get a real workout in so I’ll just eat this Twinkie while I watch The Daily Show instead. Why bother?
- Want a clean house? Every time I leave a newly tidied room Thing 1 and Thing 2 pop in showering it with tiny toys, knocking over things, and strewing a blanket here. Maybe if I just leave it all alone someone will nominate me for Clean Sweep. Why bother?
- Finally got your hands on that gorgeous dress you’ve been eyeballing in the store for months but can’t afford the perfect red-soled heels they were paired with? Well, just admire it in the closet. I mean, fashion IS art, isn’t it? Why bother?
- Want to blog? My thoughts are hardly sophisticated– I mean the most intense use of my brain today was debating diaper cream at the store. Why bother?
- Your hair? Frizzes. Instantly. This IS Miami. Why bother?
- Your nail polish? Chips. Why bother?
- Your teeth? Not white. Beige? Only after the torture that is Crest Whitestrips on sensitive teeth! Why bother?
- Your car? Covered in crumbs and Happy Meal toys with “Wash Me” written on the windshield. Besides, washing my car is the equivalent to an ancient voodoo rain dance. Why bother?
- Your bed? Rumpled by rambunctious pre-schoolers. Why bother?
- The book you want to read? Should only be enjoyed in long languorious stretches that evaporated the day junior burst out of you. Why bother?
- The presentation for work? Could use a flashier slide here and there I don’t know how to do. Or maybe better pictures I don’t have. Why bother?
- Cooking dinner? Only one type of vegetable in your fridge. Might as well get some KFC. They have vegetables too. Why bother?
- Playtime? The only energy you can muster up is to lay on the floor and roll a ball two feet. Why bother?
- Sex? You only have 20 minutes before the kids come home! Why bother?
Our minds spiral through an uncountable number of thoughts every day. We endlessly calculate and measure and estimate and wonder and compare with the bar set for “perfect”. Yes, somewhere along the road of life we developed an unrelenting need for “perfect” when in reality, there’s simply no such thing. However, when “perfect” gets thrown out of the vocabulary and replaced with “good enough”, you suddenly find yourself with boundless opportunity. Look at the list again in the “Good Enough” light. If you change the intended outcome to “good enough” how many of those things would you try instead of passing on?
Aiming for “good enough” gives you the freedom to fall short, removes the fear to fail, and so opens the door to at least try. “Good enough” always guarantees success where “perfect” always guarantees failure. Not only that, but you also allow yourself the chance to surprise yourself. How many times do we tell our own children “Something is better than nothing” and yet find ourselves unable to take our own leaps and put ourselves out there? The strive for perfection– yours or somebody’s else’s concept, is the sole force behind excuse-making.
And here’s the real breakthrough: no one’s ever had a “perfect” mom and no one needs a “perfect” mom. Children happily accept “good enough” bedtime routines in lieu of no bedtime routine because you’re telling yourself you don’t have the time/skills/energy to give a “perfect” good night storytelling session or the vocal skills to croon the “perfect” lullaby. They will happily color with you using the “good enough” smashed up box of crayons instead of not coloring with you at all. All you can muster is throwing a ball from your couch? It’s “good enough” and absolutely better than doing nothing because you can’t deliver that perfectly engaged interactive time you’ve convinced yourself your child needs. And the biggest winner in this whole change of mindset actually becomes your children because not only are you allowing yourself to be “good enough” with them and consequently constantly succeeding, but you’re also freeing your children from falling into that same exact trap which is so sticky and tricky to escape.
As for me, I’m thinking this blog is “good enough” right about now. Hope you do too!