Monday, May 9, 2011

My Good Enough Is Perfect - For Me

I remember back to the days of being a new mom.

Even though I had months to prepare, it still all came as a shock. I think I was in denial at the end - even though Mister Man was born two days late, I still hadn't packed a hospital bag when it was time to go. I refused to admit I was in labor for the first six or so hours.

I will admit to sending my husband back to our house three times to bring back just the right outfit for Mister Man to wear home. I hovered over the Pack and Play, unable to eat the lunch that had been ordered for me, when he first came home.

The second I heard or felt anything that resembled the need for a diaper change, I hustled over there. I think I went through over thirty diapers that first day. And seven outfits. That perfect outfit to bring him home in didn't last long. He spit up on it. Or maybe he just drooled on it, I forget which.

That pattern continued the second day we were home, which was difficult for me. Because I'd had to have a C-section, I wasn't allowed to climb stairs more than once a day. I ran out of outfits rather quickly that second day and had to ask my in-laws to fetch me more.

I'm pretty sure I did three to four loads of laundry a day that first week, hoping against hope that nothing would stain. I went through more bibs in a futile effort to help the outfits last just a little longer. I was driving myself insane.

And I was quickly miserable.

I just couldn't do it. I couldn't keep his outfits clean. I would change a diaper only to have another dirty one within a matter of moments. It was a Sisyphean task, and I was way down near the bottom of the hill, miserable and frustrated.

It took a full week, maybe a little longer, because I decided that maybe there was a better way - for me. Maybe I didn't need to have him perfectly clean at every moment of the day for both of us to be happy.

Slowly, I learned to give him a few minutes before changing the diaper - and I stopped going through five or more diapers an hour. The outfits? I started changing them only when they were egregiously dirty - something that would bring him discomfort, rather than focusing on presenting him as the perfect baby.

And wow did my stress level go down. It was the perfect scenario for all of us. I didn't have to be perfect. I just had to be good enough for us. And you know what? I was.

That isn't to say I won the war that day. I still struggle with maintaining happiness with finding what's good enough for us - and me. It's hard for me to not aim for perfect, something my mother always pushed me towards and aimed for herself. Rationally, I know I can't be everything to everyone, but emotionally, it's hard to let go.

So what's good enough in your life?

In the interest of full disclosure, this post was inspired by the book "Good Enough Is the New Perfect" by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple as part of From Left to Write, a book club where we write posts inspired by books rather than book reviews. I received a copy of the book to enable my participation in the book club, but there was no compensation involved, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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Brooke May 9, 2011 at 10:23 PM  

This is lovely! Oh my gosh - those first few weeks with a newborn were SOOO stressful. It was all pretty much a blur but I remember that I was A.TOTAL.LUNATIC!! Laughing about the outfits - i totally remember the PILE of outfits we went through each day.

JenU May 9, 2011 at 11:40 PM  

Uh oh...Please feel free to email me this post again in a few months...) (or better yet, come visit us and bring granola! :) )

Pat May 9, 2011 at 11:56 PM  

Ever since I read "The Mom Factor" a few years ago, "good enough" has become my byword! Actually, I was never into being perfect, so reading that "good enough" was good enough, I felt vindicated. I'm glad that has become the new perfect for you, too.

Thien-Kim aka Kim May 10, 2011 at 1:49 AM  

My mother and sister are like that with my kids! A little bit of spit up or food on my son's outfit, and they had to change it. If they want to do the laundry, they are more than welcome to change his clothes as many times as they want.

Susie May 10, 2011 at 6:42 AM  

It's funny but since they are so far apart in age (20 and 7), I did the same thing with both my girls. I think it is natural to want everything perfect when you are holding your brand new perfect baby. We all figure it out as we go:-)

melanie May 10, 2011 at 9:47 AM  

i still struggle with worrying about what people will think based on what my kids are wearing. since they generally pick out their own clothes, they rarely look like i would want them to look. but i'm trying to let that go and just be "good enough." at least (most days) their weird clothes are clean!

Emily May 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM  

Oh my god, this post made me laugh out loud. I can just see you changing the baby's outfit ten times a day.

Michelle May 10, 2011 at 3:00 PM  

Brooke - So glad you enjoyed this. I know I was definitely a lunatic, and it's possible I may still well be ;)

Jen - I will definitely bring granola and visit. Too funny, but I was actually thinking about making you granola just the other day!

Pat - I try to have good enough be enough, but it's a struggle. Loved reading the book with all the research on how women work and think.

Kim - As long as they're the ones doing the work from it....

Susie - Figuring it out is half the challenge. Then getting the CHILD to figure it out is the other half ;)

Melanie - I gave up on that. I'll show you some pictures of Little Miss's school outfits, and you'll see why you have nothing to worry about!

Emily - Ummm yeah. I totally did. Fortunately I learned.

April May 11, 2011 at 12:25 AM  

Your post so beautifully sums up the picture we get in our head of what motherhood is like; the newborn wearing white like in the commercials! Life gets so much better when we accept our reality.

roxibeck May 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM  

Love it. This is a good reminder as our Baby #2 arrives in a couple months! Pleasure meeting you yesterday!

Heather E May 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM  

Ive got this post bookmarked for the next few years when I have my first :)

Brenda Bartella Peterson May 11, 2011 at 4:19 PM  

I have friends who threaten to put stickers on the backs of their children that say, "I did not choose this outfit today." Why do we make this clothes thing so hard on us? I still have this same nasty conversation in my head about my grandchildren! And I truly don't admire people who would think bad thought about others based on something so shallow as clothes, but I still worry. Alas!

Lisa Hanneman May 11, 2011 at 8:20 PM  

Pat yourself on the back for figuring it out in a week. Imagine if you waited a month! I think we're all like that about something.

For me, it was naps and a feeding schedule. I drove myself insane. Since I'm just about to have #2 I'm excited to go through the newborn phase being a little easier on myself. I'm sure it will be so much more enjoyable.

Michelle May 11, 2011 at 9:57 PM  

April - You realize we HAVE to have that image of motherhood of we'd never have the baby in the first place, right? ;)

Roxi - SO great to meet you, and I can't believe you're due so soon; you're so tiny! It's always hard to remember from one child to another, but it all works out somehow!

Heather - Yep, come back to this one when you're so delirious you don't know which end is up. It'll make you feel better :)

Brenda - It's not just the clothing we make so hard, but it's a great metaphor. I don't admire those people either, but unfortunately it's a general reality as how we choose our clothes does reflect on us, whether we want it to or not. Thank goodness for school uniforms!

Lisa - If I'd waited a month, I'm pretty sure I would have been locked in a small room, drooling. I was more insane about the naps and schedules, but mine were sleepers and it made a huge difference if we didn't stick with it. Then again, I think that's where the difference comes in: if it matters to your child and impacts them, then it's important to you.

Mrs4444 May 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM  

A book after my own heart... :)

Michelle May 16, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

April - That is SO what I expected before I had a child, mostly because I was the first of my friends to do so. Ha!

Mrs4444 - It is an AWEsome book. Seriously, go read it. I have mine already promised out to a ton of friends.

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