How do you know if you are good enough?

I’m sitting at the dinner table staring at two, huge plates of food. It’s just my son and I tonight so we’re celebrating with big, beautiful steaks. The rest of the family doesn’t eat red meat so it’s a treat for us and I went all out. I’m waiting for my teenage dining companion to finish up his video game and join me.

and I’m waiting….

and I’m waiting….

We have an agreement with the video games. He plays with his friends online and it messes up their scores if he doesn’t complete the game. I could care less about this, but I understand he is a people pleaser and doesn’t want to upset┬áhis friends. We’ve agreed that if I let him finish his games, he will come down before starting any new ones, check in with me, and hand in all technology by 9:00pm. This agreement evolved after lots of frustration and a few blow ups on my part. Tonight, as I sit by myself watching this beautiful steak dinner get cold, my doubts creep in like a familiar shadow whispering, “Your not doing a good enough job as a Mom.”

As much self-coaching as I have done, this “not doing enough” voice has been a tough one to shake. When I think I’m not doing enough I feel exhausted and frustrated and I allow my perfectionism and doubts to creep in. My tendency, is to explode in a rage-filled fit so that my son will feel as awful as I do. You see, I like to be right, so if I think I’m not a good enough Mom, I act like it. For some funny reason, he has asked me to find a different way of coping with my frustrations.

I think it is disrespectful to keep someone waiting and let the food get cold. It feels like my son is putting video games before his mother, who is just trying to feed him. The other part of me thinks, we have an agreement. If his food is cold, he’s the only one who suffers, let him suffer the natural consequences. It’s not like I’m missing out on inspiring dinner conversation, he’s a mumbling teenage boy who talks with his mouth full and wolfs dinner down in 5 minutes.

What’s really bothering me is that I don’t know what a good mom would do. I can’t think of anything I want more in my life than to be a good mom, so it drives me crazy when I can’t figure out the answer. But the reason I can’t find a good answer is because “How do I know if I’m good enough?” isn’t a good question. There’s no such thing as good enough. No destination, no great parenting report card, no judgmental mother in the sky. Good parenting/bad parenting doesn’t exist. It’s a construct of a perfectionistic mind that just gives us more reason to feel bad about ourselves.

So as I sit here, enjoying my dinner by myself, I choose to find something else to focus on. Love. I love that I have a great relationship with my teenage son. I love that we can resolve any conflict with compromise and peace. I love that I feed my son delicious food. I love that I care so much about being a good Mom. I love that he can connect with his friends without me having to drive him anywhere. I love that he has people who share his love of games. I love that I can enjoy this dinner with or without him.

I left his full and beautiful plate on the table as I went to my office to type up this blog. Ten minutes later I threw a screaming, crying fit. Not because my son never came down to eat. Not because I’m not a good enough Mom. But because my tiny dog climbed on top of the table and ate his entire 12oz steak.

Maybe some days we are just meant to blow off steam and we’ll find any excuse to do it. I felt so much better after crying, screaming and getting mad at the dog. Maybe it’s easier to let in the love after we’ve gotten rid of the yuck. I love that I’m not the only one who gets exhausted trying to do everything right and good. I love that other Moms get it and have my back. I love that I’m giving my dog the silent treatment and she doesn’t even know it.

3 thoughts on “How do you know if you are good enough?”

  1. Torie,
    I LOVE this post!!!!!! Sorry about the steak…thank you for the laugh though :). I have been feeling guilty since having a mini meltdown last week. It was really small but I have felt bad ever since that I let it happen. I was feeling like I should have had more control over my emotions and my frustration. Thank you for the reminder that it is okay to blow off steam. I really appreciate you and your work!
    ~Katie

  2. Perfect timing on this post. I struggle in my relationship with my teenage son and question how to understand my “right now” role in his life. I jump to spend just a few minutes with him and those are few and far between. I’m crying as write because my space in his life right now is that of a seeker. He pulled away early, eager for independence. I love and admire the young and intelligent man he is growing into and logically I know I’ve had a part in that growth but I miss the boy.

  3. Too funny that the dog got his dinner. That sort of taught him a lesson about dinner and making time. I think you did everything right (maybe next time put his plate in the oven so the dog can’t get it), since he did adhear to your deal regarding the game. If you’re not happy with that deal, you could make exceptions. Say, “We’re having dinner together tonight, so don’t play a game you can’t leave”, or something like that. Having said all of that, I think it’s OK to blow off a little steam sometimes. That also teaches kids about being angry, recovering from said anger, etc. And, I was glad to read that you didn’t let YOUR steak get cold.

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