Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Good Enough

A couple of months ago, I was having one of those nights that I'm pretty sure most new mothers have at least once every couple of weeks. (Actually, I'm not sure how long this period lasts, but I'm pretty sure right now I can still lump it officially in with normal baby blues.) I was sobbing to my husband about how I was failing at everything and not doing enough, and I hated that I could never get everything done, and who knows when the last time I managed to vacuum was, and now that the baby is crawling she'll probably find something I didn't vacuum up off the floor and choke on it, but she's just so clingy right now and she hates the noise of the vacuum, and so on and so forth.

And after I'd collected myself a little, my kind husband said, "Meg. Think about what you did today. You got up and nursed the baby. You ate breakfast. We played with the baby. You worked on your lesson for church tomorrow. You nursed the baby again. You took half an hour off to read a book while the baby napped. We went to babysit your brother's kids. You came back, put the baby to bed, finished working on your lesson, and cleaned up the kitchen. Just when were you going to do something else?"

He then went on to tell me that if I was feeling overwhelmed and he wasn't, clearly we needed to reexamine our division of labor. (For the record, my husband is a rock star. He cooks dinner at least as often as I do, is great about taking care of the baby, changes his share of diapers when he isn't at work, and is really good about picking up after himself and doing the dishes without me nagging him about it. I wasn't feeling overwhelmed because he is a bum - just because we're still figuring our lives out.) We talked about adjustments we could make to help me feel more in control of my life, but also talked about how ultimately, I might also need to adjust my expectations about what success entails at this point in my life.

Because honestly, I'm still pretty new at this whole, "My life revolves around a tiny person now" thing. I don't know why I assumed that less than a year in I should have the whole thing figured out. When my daughter is learning something new, I never get frustrated at her because she doesn't do it perfectly at first. I clapped for her the first time she rolled over, even though it took another two months before she could do it on purpose every time. I watched with delight as she tried to sit up and would fold in half and tip over while she tried to grab her feet. I relished her ridiculously ungraceful army crawl with her legs flying in the air for no apparent reason. And then one day, she suddenly had all of these skills mastered.

Except it wasn't sudden, because it took weeks of less-successful practice before she figured out that skill. And now she'll move on to learning to walk and talk and pee in a toilet and a myriad of other skills that she will take some time to master, and I will celebrate her progress along the way - not just when she's totally grown up and has her act together.

So why don't I celebrate my own growth the same way? I may not get the vacuuming done very regularly right now, but I am very good at making my baby laugh. I've figured out how to make baby food; nursing is something that has become completely second nature; I read my baby's cues and know when she is tired, hungry, overstimulated, or just lonesome for Mommy. I've gotten very good at a lot of things that I didn't have a single clue about twelve months ago. And right now, that's more than good enough.


Anonymous said...

This is a lovely post. The last paragraph is so insightful and motivational. Go you!

Miri said...

I didn't see this until today, Meg my dear, but today is also the day that my uncle posted this, which I loved and reposted, so perhaps it was meant to be. I'm glad you do have such a rock star of a husband, because I couldn't have imagined a better way for him to respond. And did you see the cuteness of that baby you're holding? See how on top of things you are? So you didn't vacuum—who cares. You're obviously excelling where it counts. :)