A few weeks before the birth of my first child, I sat at my sister-in-law’s computer creating a “wet diaper” chart and at least one other “keep track of your baby’s bodily functions” chart. I had been given a book and the book said that you needed the charts to keep up with these things so that you would know whether or not your baby was getting enough nutrition, eating enough, and so on. My sister-in-law, whose children were ten and eight at the time, asked me what I was doing. When I explained, I noticed a brief glimmer of mirth cross her face before she diplomatically nodded her head and murmurred something along the lines of, “how helpful”.
Fast-forward about 3 months. I’m tired. Bone-aching tired. My firstborn, the one I planned so meticulously for, is not doing what the book said she would do! She’s a good baby, the delight of my life but she’s not following the plan! As I shuffle through some papers on my desk, I come across those charts. Blank. Never used. Completely forgotten in the haze of new parenthood and daily survival. I remember that fleeting look of mirth on my sister-in-law’s face and I understood. The charts get chucked in the trash, a lesson is learned. Parenting isn’t about following charts and getting it right all the time, it’s about following your heart and getting it wrong most of the time because that’s how you learn.
That’s the beginning of my story of being a “Good Enough”, the term authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Holle Schwartz Temple give to women who have punted on being perfect and found freedom in being good enough. Their ground-breaking book, Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood is not about settling or giving up or failing. It’s about admitting to ourselves that just because “we can do it all, doesn’t mean we have to do it all.”
Their book starts with Becky and Hollee’s respective stories of finding the good enough in their lives, how their research evolved and the things they found out about how women view themselves in their roles as businesswomen, wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. The rest of the book takes us through lives of women, just like you and just like me and lets us peek into their choices and decisions, their successes and failures, their joys and sorrows. For me that is the best part of the book. Reading through those stories, “hearing” longing, satisfaction, peace, joy, even well earned pride in the voices of the women interviewed was comforting. The stories weave us all together with these delicate, yet very strong threads, of shared experience and history.
And even though they interviewed dozens of women for the book, it was Hollee’s own story about her husband’s health crises that stuck with me the most. As she concluded the account of that harrowing time in her life she said,
This was the ugly truth: No matter how much we plan, life sometimes takes us in an entirely different direction.
When that happens, it changes the whole conversation about finding “balance.” Hell, it sometimes wipes it off the radar entirely. Who has time to Have It All when we’re worried about just holding it together?
All of our experiences are different, but that basic truth can be found somewhere in all of our lives.
Good Enough is the New Perfect has perfectly accomplished in book form, what blogs have been doing for years; it creates a bond of solidarity among women by sharing our stories and showing us that we are not alone. The book is backed by sound research and packed with relevant statistics about women, motherhood, and careers. The combination of journalistic prose and poignant recollections make the book easy to read and hard to put down.
Thank you to Becky and Hollee for providing me a copy of Good Enough is the New Perfect to read and review. I know I’ve gained far more from reading it that I can could ever hope to reciprocate to you through my review.
What is your story about finding good enough? How do you define your new perfect? You can share your experiences with Becky and Hollee on their website by answering their question, “I’m good enough because…”.
Good Enough is the New Perfect is available for purchase on Amazon.com and in stores.
images are from iCLIPART and from The New Perfect’s website media page