Yesterday, while waiting outside my youngest son’s classroom to pick him up from school after his second day of full-time schooling, I was speaking with another mum about our little ones being back at school. She asked me how I felt about having all of my children now in school full time, if I was sad about it. Before I could even think about my answer it escaped from my mouth… “no way!”. And INSTANTLY I felt a pang of guilt at how quickly I responded, followed swiftly by a shadow of shame at how my honest answer may be interpreted. My inner critic had raised it’s head momentarily, but I was quick in shutting it down, and I went on to stand by my gut reaction.
You see, for 10 years of my life I had given myself wholly and completely to my children. Responding to their every need with consistent availability. Trying my hardest to be everything for them that I had always envisioned of what a mother should be. Wanting to be perfect. And somewhere in all of that I had put my desires and dreams on hold so that I could pick theirs up, and put their wants and desires on a pedestal that was far taller than my own.
Four years ago that shifted.
I became the “good enough mother”, and everything began to change.
The “good enough mother” was a phrase first coined by Sir Donald Winnicott, a British paediatrician and psychoanalyst, in 1953. It was he who discovered that babies and children not only survive, but actually benefit from their mothers NOT being the ‘perfect parent’ who constantly make themselves available for their child’s every whim. Yes, we must absolutely always ensure our children are safe, nurtured and cared for, but being perfect isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s not healthy for anyone, or even possible. Though the pressure to be that perfect mother is STRONG in our modern society. Simply being “good enough” teaches our children how to live in an imperfect world, and how to tolerate all of the emotions that ensue… frustration, sadness, annoyance. It also gives value to emotions of happiness, elation and joy. I couldn’t sustain the level of attentiveness I was giving my children, and I didn’t have to.
Once I realised that I began to resurface. I sought support from a counsellor. I began to study. I created a career… I began to achieve. I sought good nutrition and exercise outside of the home… I began to take care of myself. I found a hobby that saw me choose my happiness over ‘advice’ from others that saw it as too dangerous… I began to fulfil my own desires. I found mental clarity and a sense of freedom. I had rediscovered myself.
I’m still a mother, just a good enough mother. I’m just a lot more ‘me’ now, with a lot less guilt. And my children are thriving, because I am too.
My name is Fiona Rogerson and I am an ACA accredited counsellor, and Hypnobirthing (Mongan Method) Practitioner. I work with women and men to overcome emotional and psychological hurdles surrounding conception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting and identity. I am also available to provide professional development training and workshops to various organisations. I am based south of the river in Perth and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0402 017 425 or via my contact page. Find me on Facebook and Instagram.