(Not) Good Enough


One thing I have learned about motherhood- I never (feel like I) am doing a good enough job. 

Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom.  It was not until graduating college, when I realized this “real world” thing was not a bluff, and I had to discover some ambition for a career.  I thought by the time I graduated college there would be a man to take care of me and provide me with the “soccer mom” life of which I dreamed.  However, when I graduated, I was single, poor, and not even remotely close to the end goal of motherhood. 

With degrees in dance and creative writing, you could imagine how marketable I was.  I worked as a secretary, then got into doing direct services with children with autism.  It was then I decided to go back to school to get my MSW so I could put myself in a better position for getting in the family way. 

I continued to dream of houses with picket fences, mini-vans, and soccer games. 

It has been ten years since I graduated with my master’s degree.  I am married now for seven years, and have two healthy, amazing children, one of whom does do soccer.  But there is no house or mini van.  We live in a small apartment and I drive the same car I had in grad school, two car seats crammed in the back. 

Next year I will be forty years old, and I can’t help but wonder, where is the life of which I dreamed?  When my husband and I work so hard, why can we not provide the life we want for our children? 

I have to ask, would my kids’ lives be better if I had a mini van?  Would they know the difference living in a larger house to that of the cozy home they love and with which they are familiar?  I don’t know. 

I put every fantasy egg into the basket of motherhood.  There was no way I could possibly fail, since it was what I’d always wanted.  And yet, here I am, feeling like I am floundering and failing, dropping those beautiful eggs and smashing them one by one. 

Over the past couple days, I’ve caught myself thinking and commenting on how brutal life is.  Yikes, dude.  Negative. 

Aside from the monetary aspect of my disappointment, there is the aspect of my dwindling energy reserves.  I am out of the home for 10-12 hours a day.  I drag myself back home after work feeling I will crumble to dust if there is one more thing in my son’s back pack from school for me to deal with.  It takes monumental effort sometimes for me to even smile at my family.  Heaven forbid if there is some tantrum or emotional trauma demanding of my time and energy, because most days I left it at the office. 

My husband’s schedule is more flexible than mine, so he drops off and picks up the kids, brings them home, bathes them, and makes them dinner.  I am home just in time to put them to bed.  My life long dreams did not involve my husband being the primary caretaker.  I abdicated a very important role in my life, and in my children’s.  In some ways they are closer to my husband, and for this I am at once thankful and sad. 

My children don’t know any other way but this, and they seem to be doing okay for the most part.  But I know.  And I am having a really hard time not resenting the hell out of our economy, our country, and women’s lib.  I am having a really hard time letting go of the dreams I had for the first 33 years of my life, before becomming a parent and settling into this reality. 

I feel so stuck.  I am a social worker who married an artist.  We don’t seem to have a ton of other options in life, no matter how we have tried to rethink or reframe our existence. 

I feel bad, guilty, for even writing this.  Families struggle with much more difficult things than mine- I see it every day- sickness, job loss, divorce, death, violence.  But this is my reference point.  All I know is that I am having a hard time feeling like I am doing even a good enough job. 

At the end of the day, all I can say is that I love my children.  Some days, this love might have to be good enough. 

Thanks for listening.  Momaste. 

Have you ever felt like you were not doing a good enough job at something?  How did you cope and help those around you to cope? 


9 responses »

  1. Well and your reference point is just as valid as any others. I think it’s really hard to balance it all. Having just started back I’m already noticing that I am tired in a much different way than staying home this summer, and I wonder what it’d be like to add a second kid into my already stretched thinness.

    My favorite working mom friend says that ‘women’s lib was the worst thing for us’ but yet she loves her job and her kids and is a proud feminist. It’s a hard balance to strike. I think having to be so many things and do them in such a good way is exhausting.

    • Hey girl! Congrats on going back to work. . . give yourself time to adjust! I think the whole deal is a matter of acceptance for me, but I’m not there quite yet. As for the women’s lib thing, I am pretty bitter and resentful that I can’t be with and actually raise my own children more, so yeah, there is that. But I guess it is also pretty cool that we have rights and stuff, so you know, yay us! Anyhoo, I am always thrilled to hear from you (like it sorta makes my day…) And guessing by your email, I think our real life names are actually uncannily similar. I will have to inbox you at some point, my special twin!

      • It’s such a hard line, right? I mean, having read Victorian literature, I’m sure that not having rights would have been stifling and having the desire for more ambition/drive being squashed would be likely to send me into the ocean ala Kate Chopin’s Awakening. But the trying-to-do-everything is pretty fuckinge xhausting.

        I love that we might have similar in-life names! You should inbox me to see 😉 That’s my new legal name, which is a shortened version of the one my parents gave me as a kid (that they never called me). But, I’ve tightened up security now and got a new email address for my blog. So you’ll prob be the only one who knows my old one! 😉

  2. I would be a crazy person if I had to work outside the home too! My hat is off to you and every other mom that does it. You are a superwoman in my eyes. And, your children are fed, happy, and it sounds like they have a wonderful father that takes care of them, and a mother that would do anything for them. I think you will see one day that they will grow up to be awesome people as a result! Hang in there mama!

    • Wow. Thank you so much. It is impossible to measure how much the support of other moms means to me. . . Although I can’t really take credit for being a superwoman, I totally appreciate your kind words. It is also important for me to hear from other moms who struggle to juggle it all, so I truly thank you. xo.

  3. It is so hard when we can’t make the things we want a priority because of circumstances (mostly) beyond our control. I have definitely felt this way and it helped me to reevaluate and figure out what my priorities were, what I needed to let go, and how I could (even minutely) shift things around so they felt a bit better. I’ve been listening to Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and while I have mixed feelings about some of what she says, she does talk about how the system is broken. We expect women to be nurturing, friendly, etc., and then also have successful careers but the workplace is not supportive of being both a good worker and a good parent/mother. I get so frustrated thinking about this sometimes! Yes, there’s a lot to be thankful for in terms of women’s rights, but we live in a dichotomy of expectations when it comes to work and motherhood. It’s really hard to find a balance that also includes your own sanity. I’m right there with ya!

  4. I just wrote a blog today about how I was really struggling with being back at work after staying at home with my baby girl for six and a half months. I really desperately wanted to (and still want to) be a SAHM, but my husband and I are both in retail. We have a roommate and live in a tiny two bedroom apartment. Me not working isn’t really an option. I miss my daughter’s dinner and bedtime five days out of seven because of my schedule, and I’m so tired in the mornings and early afternoon before I head to work that I never feel like I am as good a mom as I was before I headed out to join the “Working Moms.” I guess what I’m trying to say is I feel your pain. And don’t belittle your own struggles just because others have DIFFERENT struggles. Your struggles are no less than theirs. 🙂

  5. Pingback: It’s The Little Things | momasteblog

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