Confession 1: I Don't Know How To Master Motherhood
Good Enough is Good Enough Chapter 1: I Don’t Know How to Master Motherhood
First things first, WELCOME to our first ever book study! We’re so excited to take some much needed personal time during the busy season of motherhood and sit together (virtually) to discuss this wonderful book on motherhood! Colleen Duggan’s book spoke instantly to my “perfectionist” side, which constantly belittles myself when I feel like I fail in motherhood. That said, I want to say something about the actual title. If you’re thinking Good Enough is Good Enough is somehow promoting mediocre motherhood or is going to be full of excuses on why we shouldn’t strive for holiness in our motherhood, it doesn’t! Instead it encourages us to remember to show ourselves the kind of love that we strive to show our families. It reminded me that there were areas in parenting where I could detach from my perfectionist attitude. She talks about kids doing normal, kid-like things and I laughed because I struggled (and still do) with remembering that my children are not actually grown ups in small bodies, but instead actual children and therefore will behave like one more often than not.
I have so many underlined statements in this book, and they’re not all glowing statements about how I can relate to the beauty of motherhood. Instead, they are statements on how hard motherhood has been for me. They’re statements that I don’t wish resonated with me, but in being honest with myself I have to look back and see the hard parts as well as the joyful parts. As I look back though, I do see beauty in each memory, hard or joy filled. In the hard moments especially, I see the beauty of God’s love for me and my children, and the healing that He has allowed me to experience through my children.
Colleen Duggan speaks of perfectionism, and oh HOW I can relate! These two lines especially stood out to me!
“I silently spoke to myself throughout the day dripped with a relentless critique of my performance; I wouldn’t talk to my worst enemy the way I talked to myself.” Page 5
“I filled my days with silent commentary on my parenting performance and rarely, if ever, did I make the grade.” Page 6
As I read this chapter, it was as if I was reading something I had written about my own life. My childhood desire to impress everyone compared to what she spoke about, and I could relate when she spoke of how she transposed those expectations upon her children and her husband.
1. Are there any coping mechanisms described in this chapter with which you can identify? If so, which ones, and how did you develop them? How do these mechanisms affect the way you relate to your family?
I could relate as I spoke earlier of, to her perfectionist attitude and to putting on the happy face in the midst of chaos. She talks about watching her daughter make a colossal mess because she didn’t want to be rude to the woman on the other end of the phone. When my children were probably 5 and 6, I started hosting weekly mom’s book study at my house. Every morning I would run around the living room and kitchen, tidying up and making sure everything looked nice when people arrived. Every toy in the loft had to be put away and I found myself yelling at my kids to keep it clean, and in the next breathe, smiling as I opened the door to meet my guests. As all the children played, I assured them that the mess was fine, “they’re playing!” I’m sure my kids were so confused, because just moments ago they were told to clean up. Mom after mom would comment on how clean my house was and then get a look of shame as they shared that they felt like they just couldn’t keep up their homes. I remember thinking, oh if they had seen my house the night before or watched how I cleaned for an hour before they came. I wasn’t being real and I was making other moms feel bad about themselves. I also realized that my desire to host women in my house had resulted in me yelling at and badgering my kids. It wasn’t their fault I desired friendships. So I decided that if I wanted to keep hosting, I’d have to lower my standards. About a year or so later, I asked a mom over for a spur of the moment play date after preschool. There was laundry on the couch and probably piles on the counter tops and dishes in the sink. As she left, she thanked me for having her over when my house looked messy. I wanted to cringe but I realized I had done it. I had learned to detach and be real. She told me that she was always hesitant to invite people over if the house was messy, but being in my home made her rethink that. How often do we push away the fellowship we desire, because of a messy living room? I mean let’s be serious, who doesn’t have an occasional couch covered in laundry, especially when there are littles at home! This isn’t to say I don’t clean when we’re hosting a party and that I haven’t taught my children to do the same. For me, it’s simply remembering the house doesn’t need to be perfect to have a mom over for a cup of coffee.
2. What are a few of your strengths that help you in your marital and parenting vocations? Is it difficult for you to identify your strengths and weaknesses? Why?
I feel like there is this weird dichotomy in life where it’s prideful to speak about our strengths, but if we took time to identify our strengths, we could actually use them to help take care of our families. A counselor once encouraged me to figure out what about strengths and gifts that my husband and I each have and then use those to better our marriage and family. For example, my husband is a big picture guy and I’m the detail-oriented one. He likes to dream big and then I work on the details to make it happen. Even when it comes to traveling, he enjoys driving and will book the campsite reservation, while I make sure to pack snacks for the trip.
3. What is one aspect of dealing with your spouse and/or children that you find particularly challenging?
I didn’t realize what a selfish person I was until I had children. What took me years to realize was that I lived as a very independent woman before getting married. I had essentially lived on my own for 10 years before getting married. When we got married I continued working until our kids came home. One day I was working and doing what I wanted for the most part, the next moment, I was home with two toddlers. I enjoy traveling and making my own schedule and that can be hard when other people and their opinions, wants and desires) are involved!
4. Is there an area in your life that would benefit from outside help, from a spiritual director or a counselor? What is it?
I’ve seen a counselor on and off for years and it has been amazing!! I mean I don’t know anything about fixing cars, so no one expects me to change my own oil. I also don’t have a degree in mental health so why would I assume that I have all the tools to deal with my emotions and baggage. I prefer to make sure my counselor has a religious background so that I can grow spiritually and emotionally, at the same time
5. What is one challenging surprise you’ve faced in parenting from which you never could have prepared?
I’ve dealt with some interesting turn of events between becoming an adoptive mom and working to help my children with their academic needs, but I usually find a connection to ways the Lord has prepared me. While I can never fully relate to what my children have experienced by being separated from their birth families, I can relate to the feeling of loss that I experience through my mother’s death.
Another way the Lord prepared me for my children is through my education. I spent most of my higher-level education in media and then in the end, ended up in teaching. I never expected to become a teacher. That teaching background has helped me give my children the academic support they’ve needed to work through their learning struggles.