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Letting Go of Perfect to Become a Good Enough Mom

Posted by Elisabeth Wilkins

As moms, we’re often told what we should be doing. If you believe the hype, we should be kind, loving, consistent, fun, smart, and strong, and never yell or lose our cool—all while cooking delicious meals, keeping our houses spotless, and bringing home the bacon. (If I’m lucky, I can hit one of these goals on a good day…or in a good month!)

But the truth is, I know I’ll never be a domestic goddess. I give consequences, but I often struggle with consistency. I love my child, but I lose it and yell at him sometimes. I worry. There are days I feel decidedly fragile and wonder if I’m up to the task of parenting, far from the strong mom at the center of the family I’d like to be. (I always think of the mom from Good Times as the epitome of a powerful, loving mother, and I sometimes even ask myself, “What would Florida Evans do?”)

Even though we all know in our heads that there’s no such thing as a perfect mom, it’s hard not to feel pressured to live up to the ideal.

So this Mother’s Day, I just wanted to say this to all my fellow moms out there:

  • It’s okay if you haven’t done the laundry today, or this week.
  • It’s okay if you yelled at your child because you were angry and having a bad day, and they pushed your buttons.
  • It’s okay if you forgot to put money under the pillow for the tooth your child lost.
  • It’s okay if you really went overboard and told your teen she was grounded for life…and then immediately regretted it, because you’d be stuck in the house with her.
  • It’s okay, because we really don’t have to keep all those plates spinning all the time (even the guy at the circus gets a break, after all). We all have moments when we are less than our best selves; that’s just part of being human. The beauty of it is, we can always go back and try our best to do things better the next time.

We’re just trying to get this parenting thing right as best we can — and it’s the hardest job we’ll ever undertake. So these days, instead of trying to be a perfect mom, I’m aiming to be a “good enough” mom. A good enough mom loves her kids, takes care of them and is trying her best. She tries to find joy in the little things, and keeps going.

(I think Florida Evans would agree.)

And you know what? I’m lucky to know a lot of good enough moms, and I’ve found them to be loyal, funny and strong. We’re not perfect, and we’re not trying to be. We know that parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, and we still show up every day anyway. We may not like our kids’ behavior all the time, but we love them—even when they are at their most unlovable.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you good enough moms out there who are trying your best, every day.


About Elisabeth Wilkins

Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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