Being a human is hard. So is raising humans, and trying to keep them alive. Oh, and then we have to figure out how to dress ourselves, and them, and feed ourselves and operate vehicles and hold down jobs and discuss politics and… ughhhhh I need a nap just from writing that sentence.
I’m a go-getter. I *do* the things, I get the *things* done, sometimes badly, sometimes pretty well. But my mother (like most of our mums, they can be a bit hard on us) raised me to try and be “the best” at everything.
“Hmm… not sure that singing/homework/writing/outfit/hair colour is good enough. I think you can do better”, she used to say (obviously with good intentions, but still.) And sometimes, this was true, if I was lazy at something and just coasted into home base with good marks at school or if I was happy with the fact that only half of my head was highlighted. “Whatever…” was my response inevitably, and I would saunter away like the surly teenager that I was.
What if it *was* good enough? What if I had done the best I could, and it didn’t meet someone’s standards? My excited bright bubble of personal achievement would be deflated. That feeling would end up dissipating eventually, sure, but it would sit in my heart, a tiny little grey speck, for years.
When I lived in New York in my 20s, I was really hard on myself. I felt emotionally lost, as if I was on the outside of an invisible barrier, looking in and pointing with amazement at all these people with their amazing lives and fashion sense and careers (lies, all lies. they were all as lost as I was, figuring themselves out and not knowing how to find the nearest subway). I was comparing my life to everyone else’s, and it became a barrier to who I could allow myself to be. I was in my own way, basically, and I couldn’t move.
And who, exactly, made me think I wasn’t good enough? Well, basically, it was me and my own narrow view of life at the time, extracted from my childhood insecurities. Instagram and Facebook didn’t exist yet, so I wasn’t obsessed with perfectly filtered images of holiday homes and pouty model-faces on my smartphone. I was creating my own glamorous unattainable world (when in reality it was full of concrete, cold pizza, noisy cabs and random dudes shouting on street corners).
I started noticing that my normally happy demeanour was fading. It was replaced with frustration, helplessness and anger. Eventually (after too many late nights drunkenly pouring my heart out to random people at bars), I figured out that I would never have a sane adulthood if I kept this up. I had to slowly and painfully build myself up, with an enforced and healthy dose of “f*ck it, this is fine and I’m happy with it”. Plus.. someday, I wanted to be a mother and how the HELL would I make tiny humans feel good enough, if I didn’t feel like that about myself?
Nowadays, almost 20 years later, although that little “oh, you’re rubbish at this” voice still whispers in my ear, it’s gotten much easier to ignore. Social media, magazines, newspapers that tell you how to wear what and when and how to spend your money and which charities and political parties to support because “this is what all the rad people do” doesn’t make it easy, I’ll be honest.
But, here’s the deal: I MADE A HUMAN BEING. I mean, seriously. All of us on here have made a human. That, completely on it’s own, is pretty goddam sci-fi superhuman. So, throw that into your big bucket of achievements, and along with that, remind yourself of this:
You’re doing your best to be patient, loving, funny, open-minded and strong. You are enough.
You don’t need to compare yourself to any social media family/lifestyle/person. You are enough.
You don’t need to chase a dream because that’s what you think you “should” do to be a role model for your kids. You are already their role model and have been since they first opened their eyes. You are enough.
You feel like having a cry because you feel muddled-up and confused? That’s perfectly okay, because you are enough.
You don’t need to catalogue a list of parenting fails at the end of every day because you’re trying your best. You are enough.
This Mother’s Day, the best present that anyone can give us is the one that we give ourselves: the reminder that we are enough: good enough, and strong enough and beautiful enough and loving enough.
We *are* enough, and so much more because of it.