How often over the course of your life have you asked yourself, “Am I good enough”? It often starts at a young age when you begin comparing yourself to others. You start creating beliefs about how the world works. You come up with an image in your head about what it means to be “good” and “enough” and continually measure yourself against that image.
In this age of hyper-awareness of the rest of the world’s accomplishments via social media, you can begin to have an even greater feeling of not being good enough. You begin comparing yourself to the edited versions of other people’s lives and start feeling like you don’t measure up.
As a working woman there can be many layers of comparisons that can lead to questioning whether you are good enough. You may feel the pressure to do well in all areas of your life and exhaust yourself with trying to figure out where you fall on the ladder of “enough-ness”.
In trying to balance it all, the area that is often the greatest struggle is being a good mom. There are so many opinions and suggestions that bombard moms with beliefs about child rearing, financial planning, discipline, education and wellness that it’s no wonder you question whether you are doing a good enough job.
This week I’m going to discuss what is “good enough”, what it means to be a good mom and the importance of creating your own definition.
What is good enough?
Just by virtue of the definition of good, “to be desired or approved of”, we start the cycle of comparison. If something is labeled as good then the opposite must be less than good or bad. When enough people agree that something is good, we often take their assessment and agree.
It’s why advertising is so powerful. It tells us what to think and believe. It’s especially powerful when it compares similar items. The consumer gets to see the thing they may have believed was good, being compared to an item the advertiser is saying is better. Before you know it the consumer’s opinion has shifted.
The same happens with us. We are taught at an early age what is good and bad by our caregivers. Once in school we begin to notice what our peers think is good and we add that to our pile of beliefs.
Once you reach adulthood you’ve accumulated many beliefs about what is good and what is enough. Whether it’s how you look, how smart you are or what college you got into, the comparisons never seems to end.
Before you know it, you are overwhelmed trying to be good enough based on old programming that you didn’t even realize was running in the background of your mind. Since your beliefs create your feelings, action and results in the Manage Your Mind Model, questioning whether you are good enough can become a vicious cycle. This is usually the most apparent when you enter the phase of motherhood (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
Am I a good mom?
If you are like me, you did well in school, went to college, passed the CPA exam and got an accounting position where you learned how to apply everything you had been taught in your studies of accounting. You may have semi-annual or annual reviews where you are told what you are doing well and what need to be improved. You’ve taken continuing education classes to further your knowledge and you follow the company’s path for your career’s future.
Then you decide to have a child. You read everything you can about having a baby, you take a class and you listen to other mothers. The hospital sends you home with your newborn baby and that’s when it hits you – you are in charge of this precious life and feel completely unprepared!
You do what the “experts” say to do. You learn how to master one stage of your child’s life and before you know it they’ve moved into another stage without warning. You may join your child in a play group so you can get to know other moms and you start seeing how other children and their moms behave.
All of a sudden the question of what it means to be a good mom starts nagging at you. You begin to question whether you are doing a good job or whether your child will be a hot mess later in life!
Your children eventually begin attending school which then brings a whole new layer of comparison based on what the teacher’s expectations are as well as the placement of children in groups based on intelligence or behavior or aptitude. Your role as a mother seems to come with a quarterly report card in which you feel graded as much as your child.
Before you know it, you are comparing yourself even more based on other people’s opinions about what makes a good mom. The interesting thing is that other people’s definition of what makes a good mom often comes down to:
- Are my children behaving and happy?
It sounds like a nice, simple definition but what if it’s wrong? What if being a good mom has less to do with your children’s thoughts, feelings and actions and everything to do with yours?
Letting other people define such an important role in your life and your children’s lives will never get you the results really want. But creating your own definition will.
Creating your own definition
When the definition of whether you are a good mom is based on whether your children behave and are happy, you are setting yourself and them up for failure. Any time that you desire some outcome and that outcome is dependent on someone else’s actions, you are creating an expectation. This expectation often creates the feeling of resentment or not being good enough if and when it’s not met.
For example – you want your child to play soccer because you’ve heard it’s a great sport for them to learn teamwork but your child just wants to run around the field tackling everyone instead of kicking the ball. You had an expectation of your child enjoying soccer and now you feel horrible about the looks you are getting from the other parents and you secretly resent your child for not following your plan.
It isn’t feasible or fair to measure your worth as a mom based on how your children are acting or how they are feeling. It puts undo pressure on both of you and denies your children to right to develop naturally and have their likes, dislikes and feelings.
The truth is that children get to misbehave, to be unhappy and to make mistakes. None of that means you aren’t a good mom.
If you are one of the millions of working moms who feel like you aren’t doing a good job, I’ve got good news for you. It’s not your fault! You’ve just never created your own definition.
So what does it mean to be a good mom? Before you define it for yourself, I’d like you to consider the following simple description I heard on a podcast:
- Love your children like crazy
- Protect them
- Teach them
What I love about this definition is its simplicity and how everything on the list is within your control. Having the definition be things you could think, feel and act upon gives your children autonomy. This description doesn’t imply things like “My child gets into an Ivy League School” or “My child never tells me they hate me”. The actions of loving, protecting and teaching are 100% within your control.
With this simple definition you could have the following scenarios and still be a good mom:
- Your child could behave badly towards their sibling and you can reprimand them while still choosing to love them like crazy – you are being a good mom
- Your child could ask to sleep over someone’s house that you don’t know the family, you tell them no because it doesn’t feel like a good decision to you and your child gets upset – you are being a good mom
- You teach them that drinking and driving are dangerous yet they get a DUI one day – you are being a good mom
By using the simple description above, you are a good mom if you’ve loved them like crazy, if you’ve protected them in whatever way was possible for you and if you taught them what you decided they needed to learn. Notice how the definition has nothing to do with whether your children loved you back, whether they somehow got hurt by accident or whether they didn’t learn what you taught.
Being good enough at anything, especially motherhood, comes down to defining what good enough is for you without comparing to others and keeping the definition as simple as possible. Let everyone else believe they need to have the latest state of the art camera equipment monitoring their child’s every move or they need to cook only organic micro nutrient dense kale in a non-treated copper skillet.
You are good enough and the best mom for your children because…you say so!
- As a working woman there can be many layers of comparisons that can lead to questioning whether you are good enough
- Before you know it, you are overwhelmed trying to be good enough based on old programming that you didn’t even realize is running in the background of your mind
- If you aren’t defining what a good mom is for you, then you will default to what others believe
- When the definition of whether you are a good mom is based on whether your children behave and are happy, you are setting yourself and them up for failure
- Creating your own simple definition that is within your control based on the thoughts you choose to think eliminates the need for comparison
If you’d like some help exploring what it means to be good enough as a mom, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at email@example.com and we can get to work together.