Good Enough is the New Perfect

Damn it all, it’s been way too long since I have sat down to blog it up.  So, I guess I need to play a little catch-up, huh?

First, let me start with some good news.  Ferris had his 90 day review, and while there were some tense moments between him and the CEO (The Wife), I am happy to report that his contract with us has been renewed, and he will be with us for a long time…pending a successful 12 month evaluation that is.  Just kidding kiddo, you can stay.

The big news since we last spoke (I wrote, you read) is that Ferris started daycare this week.  Unfortunately yes, the time has come for the Wife to head back to work.  Well, not to imply that what she has been up to as of late was a 3 month vacation by any means.

In a perfect world (my perfect world that is) we would never have to send Ferris to daycare at all.  No, we wouldn’t be rich and saddle the kid with a nanny 24/7…..wait, I take back the rich part.  We “WOULD” be rich, but no nanny.  In fact, in my perfect world I would be able to do something like this (writing that is) for a living, which would allow me to stay home and kick it with the Mini-Me.  I totally said that last part (“kick it”) just to get under the Wife’s skin.  She seems to think that I view being a stay at home parent as a party or something.  It’s good to see even with all our ups and downs through this whole process we still haven’t lost our sense of humor; or at least our sense of messing with each other.

I dare you to try and tell me this is not awesome

To clarify, I *do not* think being a stay-at-home-parent is a party.  I realize it’s hard work.  Shit, I saw how hard it was on the Wife, but I think she’s sees how excited I get when I talk about the idea of staying home, which in turn probably makes her feel like I’m not taking the responsibility too seriously, when in fact I’m smiling at the idea of spending every day with my boy.  But alas, this is all for naught, as we don’t roll like that (money wise), so we are like most families in America these days, and need 2 incomes just to say we barely make it.  Well, that might be a little over-dramatic; we do well enough.

That’s kind of the theme of my thoughts today; good enough, or well enough, is the new perfect.  I stole that phrase from a book the Wife has been reading lately.  Good Enough is the New Perfect started as a blog, but has since found its way into hardcover/paperback in stores around the country.  The idea behind this blog/book is, in my opinion, nothing short of genius.

The blog/book helps new mothers see that their efforts “do” in fact matter, and while you will have more days where you feel like you accomplished nothing, or realize that all you got done that day was brushing your teeth (or not sometimes – don’t judge), that whatever little extra items you happened to squeeze into a day filled with caring for a needy baby (because all babies are needy) was good enough.  This particular message I feel is very helpful because I feel that a lot of new moms think they should not only be caring for their baby, but cleaning house, checking emails, grocery shopping, etcetera; and if they don’t accomplish all these tasks they somehow are failing.  But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sometimes it’s important to one’s sanity to be able to let go and say that your efforts are good enough.  As a Dad/Partner this has been helpful for me too.

One example of something that was particularly hard on the Wife was the idea of getting out of the house.  The first week of Ferris’ arrival aside, because let’s be for real – that first week you don’t even know what time/day it is, let alone if you can go outside and interact with the living –  it was a little bit before we actually tried to venture out as a family.  One particular reason was because our little one was not the best sleeper, which in turn made him very fussy and unpredictable at any given time.  This fussiness weighed on both of us, but probably on the Wife a bit more than me.  When dealing with a fussy baby you can feel trapped indoors at times, simply out of fear of how they will act.  Then to make the feelings worse, some can’t help but fall into the trap of comparing their situation to others around them.  What I mean by that is in this day of social media it’s very easy to see how, and what, everyone else is doing.  The Wife and I would see posts from other couples we know who had babies around the same time we did (we actually know a lot, surprisingly), and some of them were out and about within the first 2 weeks after giving birth gallivanting all over creation with their perfect angel-babies, while Ferris cried in the background.  That kind of stuff, while you know is not your fault, takes its toll on people (more specifically, Moms), and can make you feel like a failure.

While I have always tried to reinforce to the Wife that she was doing a great job every day (because she was/is), even though I could see she felt otherwise, the message of the blog/book has helped me see other ways I can help.  For example, since Ferris arrived, the cleanliness/habitable level of our living accommodations has reached a high of….you guessed it, “good enough.”

When we first brought Ferris home and someone would come to visit (which hasn’t been many people, but that’s a post for another time) I would apologize incessantly saying something to the effect of, “Excuse our mess” or “Sorry our place is so crazy right now.”  But now, when we get the occasional visitor I’m more like, “Eh, it’s not that bad.  We have a baby, what do you expect?”

By no means do I want to infer that the Wife and I have become so overwhelmed by the kid that we are living in squalor.  It’s just that, maybe things don’t get put away as fast as they used to, or maybe the laundry has found a new home on the floor as opposed to being hung up or folded and put away, or maybe our couch has become a catch-all for anything and everything baby related.  I mean seriously, it looks like Baby Mt. Kilimanjaro on our love seat.  As far as the clothes on the floor thing, the Wife will tell you the floor has always been my storage place of choice to begin with….whatever.

This is an actual picture of our couch (at one point in time)….and yes, I have already received glares and threats from the Wife for posting this.

So now, instead of getting frustrated and complaining about the mess around us, thus not adding stress to an already tired and stressed out Mom/Wife, I try and be more understanding, and even take that extra time to maybe pick a few things up here and there, or even pick up some of the Wife’s slack so she can get some extra rest.  This helps us both feel like we’re not complete slobs, and that we’re “actually” riding this crazy wave and managing pretty well.  You’d be amazed how taking just 10 min to fold the kid’s laundry and put it away makes one feel pretty accomplished.

The Wife may not openly agree with my assessment completely, especially not this week since she has returned to work, and thus been exhausted every day after work, but I know deep down she agrees.  Trust me, the couple of times I have managed to get that love seat cleared off so we can actually use it for the purpose it was intended, I see the joy in her eyes, and it makes me pretty happy too.

So, I say all that to say this….as new parents, you have to learn to let go a little.  Not everything is going to be perfect.  Yes, there will be some days where you feel horrible because you can barely function, and it only makes it worse when you compare your situation, or baby, to others around you.  So, is it easy to keep things in perspective when your child is crying and you don’t know why; you’re starving because you haven’t eaten all day; your mouth feels funky because you just realized you haven’t brushed your teeth all weekend, and to top it off you see every picture and cute video the other pregnant couple made of their overachieving baby, laying there so peaceful and serene as they describe “what a good baby they are”…..? No, of course it’s not.

But remember, you’re doing a good job.  It may not be easy, it may not always be fun, and anyone who tells new parents that “awesome” and “fun” is the way it’s always going to be is full of shit; but this too shall pass, and one day your little one will be the cute quite angel.  Trust me, I’m speaking from recent experience.  And you know what; any time I got really overwhelmed I would just stare at Ferris while he slept and smiled because I know I have the cutest angel for a son on this planet….and for me, that’s good enough!

See…I told you he was the most gorgeous kid in the world. Oh, well, I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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3 thoughts on “Good Enough is the New Perfect

  1. Great blog 🙂 Sounds like a great book too! I think they ones posting that they have angels in the first three months are full of sh*t. Just wishful thinking perhaps and wanting to live up to some unrealistic standard that says good enough is definately not perfect and we must always be pushing for more, more, more. I will say, though… you figure out a thing or two the first time around and baby 2 (although I NEVER believed anyone who told me this before) seems to be the upgraded model, with a few of the kinks worked out…. not gonna see what 3.0 looks like, though… I’ll just be grateful for the one-time upgrade and call it. 🙂

    Nice work, Mike! Props to your wife for making the three month mark. Going back to work will be heavenly. 🙂

  2. Ok, so 616am was really like 2am my time… can that be true? I’m pretty sure it was 2 or 3am. My 2am brain always tells me that my ramblings are super interesting…. lol. Also, apparently I am super grumpy in the middle of the night when the baby has been up every two hours (“must be a growth spurt” isn’t that comforting?) and there is absolutely no milk left in my body, but guess what? she’s hungry again! hurray!

    Just thought I would post a follow-up that I really appreciated Carrie’s note about posting “highlights” because that’s probably more true than everyone being full of sh*t!

  3. AWESOME blog, Mike! Definitely my favorite so far. Where were you six years ago?! lol I had to learn this for myself and it took me a couple of years to figure it out. Then, when my son was 3.5 years old, I had to start working outside of our home again and take him to daycare. That started a whole new set of guilt, worries and whether or not I was succeeding or failing at being a good wife and mom. Now I take a look around my home and at my husband and son, and I see how happy they are. That in itself is confirmation that I must be doing my part to maintain a healthy balance in our family. Do I have folded laundry sitting on my couch right now? Yes. Do I need to dust my desk and bookshelf? Yes. Is my family happy and content even though I haven’t done those things? YES. Great blog, Mike!!

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