The Good Enough Mother

GoodEnough-Magnifying-Glass-700This morning, I read an article by Elsa Walsh, Why women should embrace a good enough life. I’ve been mulling it over all day.

A couple of years ago, a good friend–a psychologist and mother of two girls–reminded me of Donald Winnicott’s concept of The Good Enough Mother. I was lurching through a divorce, at times terrified that I was completely fucking things up.

I’ve reflected on that conversation many times since, well aware that my girls have an ordinary mother who gets out of bed in the morning “on two strong legs,” in the words of Jane Kenyon.

What I mean by ordinary is this: multidimensional, sometimes exhausted, sometimes embarrassing, full-time working, doing my best, and sometimes just doing what needs to be done, best or not.

They do know that I really, really love being their mama. They also know I like my job. And my girlfriend. And writing. And doing push-ups. They know that I wake up at the crack of dawn to walk the dog in the woods, hoping not to wake them, that I spend too much time on Facebook, that I get crazy happy about the birds and the blossoms in the spring, and that they can talk to me about anything.

I spent plenty of my life holding a magnifying glass to my every move, especially as a mother. What I’ve begun to not just realize but internalize is that “teachable moments” pretty much take care of themselves when we say no to “modeling” and yes to just being–and letting our kids just be, too.

8 thoughts on “The Good Enough Mother

  1. Murray M. Schwartz says:

    Hi Jena,

    I like the way you use Winnicott’s idea of the good enough mother. A good enough mother validates and celebrates her children’s spontaneity and is just disillusioning enough for them to accept their own and the world’s limitations. You’re plenty good enough!


    Good enough Dad



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