Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good Enough Mom

Many parents out there will be familiar with the concept of the Good Enough Mom. (or Parent.) There's a lot of research to support the idea that kids who have little struggles of some kind now and then- whether it's being taken to day care, or not getting perfect nutrition every day, or playing alone while a parent is busy in another room- build character and strength, while children with "perfect" childhoods fall apart at the first sign of conflict in their lives.

I have to remind myself of this concept on days when Lily is building a lot of character and strength.

Lily and I had Pop-Tarts for breakfast this morning. She had never eaten a Pop-Tart, but she loved every minute of it. She loved the way it smelled, and the way it tasted. She even loved the way it looked- the sprinkles on top reminded her of a princess. We ate at the table, and she thanked me for her breakfast. When she was done, she said "All done, please," and then got down from her chair.

And I still feel guilty.

There is nothing of any nutritional value in a Pop-Tart. And I know this. She ran around from the sugar and then crashed in a grouchy nap-needing heap. I would rather give her oatmeal and peanut butter and fruit, like we sometimes have. But frankly, I didn't feel like making the oatmeal (even instant oatmeal) and cleaning the bowls and slicing the fruit. I woke up many hours late today and already had to postpone a play-date until tomorrow. It was just a Pop-Tart kind of morning.

And besides. Pop-Tarts were on sale.

Two boxes of Pop-Tarts and a box of Eggo waffles for $5. That's a lot of breakfasts for $5. And I couldn't ignore that.

I also couldn't ignore the sale on canned vegetables. They are approximately one-third the cost of fresh.

If I had my way, I would have the money to shop only at Whole Foods and make everything organic and fresh.

I would get enough sleep every night, and would never sleep through my alarm. And my apartment would be in the condition to have guests at any point, so even if I overslept a little it wouldn't matter. (and I would shower every day, so my hair would be in a similar condition.)

But that's just not my reality. In fact, I seriously doubt it's anyone's reality.

(OK, maybe there are a lot of people who only eat organic and have a clean apartment and take a shower every day. But I bet those people have things they would like to improve, too.)

My reality includes staying up late, and waking up late, and getting behind in the housework, and buying the food that's on sale sometimes. And Pop-Tarts for breakfast.

But it also includes meal-planning. And budgets. And the ability to feed my family, at the table, for a whole week for $60.

And it includes a little girl who sees sprinkles on a Pop-Tart and thinks of a princess. And communication skills between us that are strong enough that I know what the hell she's talking about. And a little girl who says "thank you, food, Amen." And "please," and "thank you" and "no, thank you."

And Family Dance Parties. Nightly.

And Family Sing-Alongs. All day, every day.

And a Mommy and Daddy who make being well-rounded people a priority over a quest for perfection.

And that's good enough.

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