Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The good enough mother

I have to admit, I've been struggling lately. It used to be that I was so consumed by my kids' bilingualism that I had a definite focus. There are obviously other parts of parenting that are important to me and consume me with emotion and worry at times. And there are obviously other aspects to my kids : they are more than just little bilingual robots.

A while ago, there was an article in Multilingual Living called Stop Taking Your Child's Bilingualism So Personally (I can't seem to find it but when I do, I'll post it here). It really spoke to me. And I am happy to say that in terms of child rearing, we aced that one (baring all adolescent identity crises). And the bilingual aspect of the child rearing is the ONE thing I no longer worry about.

I'm a perfectionist, a control freak and lack self-confidence. Without going into the details of all my personal baggage, well, it's hard to be a parent. My parental manifesto is simple: if you love your children and if they know that you love them unconditionally, they will forgive you all your mistakes. But is this enough?

For the past few months, I've been seeing a therapist. Recently, I've gotten so scared that my children, especially my daughter, will pick up some of my unhealthy behavior (ie body image and self-confidence issues). So I decided to stop trying to solve everything all on my own and turned to someone for help.

As I've begun opening up to Dr. D (and let me tell you doing therapy in your second language is not the easiest thing!), I've realized a lot of things. I've realized that I'm repeating "bad" behviors despite myself because that's what I know; I've realized that I can't control everything; I've realized that I am a good parent; I've realized that I'm a good person; and I've realized there's no such thing as a perfect mother. The "good enough mother" or ze goot enuf muzer as Dr. D says, is a a theory by Donald Winnicott, an English psychotherapist. There is no perfect mother. And if there was, you wouldn't want to be that because then you'd be untouchable to your kids. And that defeats the point of it all!

So it's ok for me to buy prepackaged food for my kids (something I don't do because I love cooking and because I place a heavy emotional attachment on food that comes from my upbringing). It's ok to show your kids you are imperfect and make mistakes. And it's ok if your kids aren't invited to everyone's birthday party because you can't be friends with everyone. Just because Gaëlle or Zöe don't invite her doesn't mean you have failed as a mother.

So this brings me back to what I know I've done right (when I say "I", I don't mean to exclude my husband who obviously has contributed a major part of parenting). I've created loving, caring, and gracious little people who always say" thank you" and "please". I've created curious little beings who aren't scared to ask questions. I've created kids who love giving and receiving hugs. I've created happy kids, who cry, who scream and sometimes roll on the floor, but who aren't scared to laugh and smile. And mostly, I've created future adults who I'll be proud of, no matter what they become. And I hope they will forgive me for being imperfect.


Jan Exner said...

No comment on this wonderful article? That seems wrong! Only I don't know what to add, so I'll just repeat: a wonderful article, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello. I followed a link to this post from Bonne Maman.
First, I want to say how brave you are for putting all of this in black and white. It takes a lot of courage to put it all out there like that!
I love everything you say - and identify so much with it. Your final description of your children is beautiful - it made me tear up. Having similar issues (at least in general), I have similar fears: will my children pick up my issues? will they forgive me my mistakes? I, too, have finally sought help in various forms and am grateful to no longer be going it alone. And I've come to similar conclusions - I can't control things, I'm good enough (and sometimes even pretty darned amazing!) just as I am, etc. So I do my best as a parent, a wife, a friend, etc. And I try to appreciate each moment - even the ones when my child is screaming (not easy!). And I love the stuffing out of him - unconditionally - screaming and all :)
Thanks for a beautiful and inspiring post!

Reb said...

thanks for the comments. I think it was important for me to actually write black on white that I'm doing ok and so are the kids. And to finally let go of the preoccupation (or is it a mild obsession) I have with their bilingualism. And it's important for other parents to know that they are doing a good job.

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