Today I was talking with a friend of mine about the weird and complicated thing that is life. We are both mothers, though in different stages of that Grand Adventure. As we chatted and drank our tea, we wandered into the topics of clean houses, and of writing. You see, as mothers of children, we both fight the inexorable force that is mess and are in a constant battle to keep our homes clean. And, we both write.
On the surface, writing and being a mother to children (small or large) do not have a whole lot in common.(Although both demand a certain level of impressive creativity.) But as we talked, my friend and I, she mentioned how she had learned to embrace the concept of “Good Enough.” Sometimes, a piece of writing or a moment of parenting will not be your best, but it will be good enough. Good enough for today, good enough for right now, good enough to make it through.
I think the concept of Good Enough is one that I often struggle with. My house is not good enough. It’s a mess and I’m behind on laundry, and dishes, and everything. My parenting, my mothering , it’s not good enough. I am making mistakes, or getting cranky, and I am failing. My relationship with my husband is not good enough. There are places that need to be worked on and grown. And sometimes, all those things are true.
But also, those things are not true.
My house IS good enough. It is not perfect. The laundry needs folding and the floors need vacuuming. It may not be perfect, but it IS good enough for today, and tomorrow is a new day.
My mothering IS good enough. It is not perfect. My patience is not infinite, and I do make mistakes. But it IS good enough for today, and tomorrow is a new day.
My relationship with my husband IS good enough. It is not perfect. I do need to learn to hear him better, and there are things we are working on. But it IS good enough for today, and tomorrow is a new day.
Good Enough is an important concept for me right now. I am struggling to manage how to be a mother of two, instead of just one. I am struggling to manage my eldest son’s behaviour, which is difficult beyond the average for a child of six. I am struggling to be a good mother, and to be the mother that both of my sons needs. I am struggling to be the wife my husband needs, struggling to navigate our conflicts well. Learning that sometimes, good enough is okay is a huge part of my life. It is also a wonderful relief from the stress and pressure. Accepting that something might not have been my best, but it was good enough gives me the space I need to keep moving, and the grace to (hopefully) do better next time.
Good Enough is very tied to the other guiding principle of my life. That other principle can be articulated many ways. One Step at a Time. Strength for Today. Just Do the Next Thing. What it comes down to, for me, is accepting God’s grace and strength each morning, with the knowledge that that grace and strength will get me through the day. It will not get me through tomorrow, and it doesn’t need to because “his mercies are new every morning.”*
In my last session with my therapist, I was asked “what are you good at?” I answered this with several things, but the one that I am most proud of is that I have gotten really good at figuring out what my next step is, and doing it. I don’t worry about the step after the next one, there will be time for that later. I just move forward one step at a time, one day at a time. And I trust that God will give me what I need to get through each day. So far he hasn’t let me down.
So I will continue to take things one day at a time. Each day I will take the grace that God extends. Each day I will do my best to get through that day. Some days will be the best I could possibly provide. Some days will not. But they will be Good enough.
*This is a (fairly common) paraphrase of Lamentations 3:22-23