Well, the end of another month is approaching, which means I feel I should get a post up – otherwise there'll forever be a gap in my monthly archives, which disturbs my obsessive-compulsive soul far too much. Which means I've been mulling over the question of what to write about. While I have no shortage of potential post topics, I do have a shortage of potential topics short enough to complete a post on in the few minutes of spare time likely to be available to me between now and midnight on May 31st. I had in fact sat down to have a shot at writing about something totally different, when I suddenly remembered that the topic of how I chose this blog's name was one that I'd saved up for precisely such an occasion.
You may, of course, have recognised the phrase as a reference to Winnicott's theory of the 'good-enough mother'. If so, you're right, but only indirectly so. (In fact, when I finally got round to looking up Winnicott's theory, I discovered it didn't have that much to do with the don't-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude I'd had in mind.) I actually chose the title in homage to a post made four years ago on the Chez Miscarriage blog.
For those who never read it, Chez Miscarriage was among the most well-known of the many infertility blogs on the 'Net. The author, who posted under the pseudonym getupgrrl, was a DES daughter who was struggling – unsuccessfully – to carry a child to term. After more miscarriages than you could shake a curette at, she finally opted for gestational surrogacy, had a healthy son, and ultimately exited the blogging world in a fog of psychotically sleep-deprived bliss. But, as you can imagine, her surrogate's pregnancy was an incredibly tense time for her as she tried not to let herself worry about all the things that could go wrong. One day, to distract herself from the nail-biting, she invited readers to post their experiences of what she termed Mommy Drive-Bys – those moments when a friend/relative/acquaintance/random stranger you just passed on the street decides that you can't possibly continue parenting without the benefit of their sage advice, and they'd better let you know exactly what you're currently getting wrong in your attempts to bring up your child.
The comments flooded in in their hundreds, ranging from the heartbreaking (mother who tried everything possible to get her extremely premature brain-damaged baby to nurse and ultimately and tearfully had to give up and resort to formula-feeding, only to be asked scathingly by someone who didn't know the history "Did you even try to breastfeed that baby?") to the hilarious (man who adopted a baby together with his male partner, asked scathingly "Did you even try to breastfeed that baby?) But there was, apparently, a third category – misunderstandings (I put that charitably) of the original request. Apparently, there were a number of people who took it as a request to provide, rather than relate, a Mommy Drive-By; they used the comments thread to make it clear just what category of Bad Mother (stay-at-home? Work-away-from-home? Formula-feeder? Attachment Parent? Non-attachment parent? Person who dressed differently?) they disapproved of, and why.
I say 'apparently', because we didn't get to read them – getupgrrl deleted them all, and more power to her. The reason we got to hear about their existence was because she was spurred into further action by a comment decrying all the 'stupid and dangerous' maternal behaviours prevalent today such as (brace yourselves) letting children go out without mittens and (the horrors!) feeding them apple juice drinks instead of apple juice. At which point, she let rip with a scathing post on exactly what she thought of these sorts of attitudes and the expectations put on mothers, citing the good-enough mother theory in support of all us imperfect mothers out here who are, in fact, raising happy, healthy, thriving children despite our imperfections,. It was a post as well-written, as inspiring, and sadly now as non-existent, as the rest of her blog; and, as I read it, I found myself thinking that if/when I ever got round to setting up my own blog, I would call it 'Good Enough Mum' in honour of that post. Unless I thought of anything better in the meantime, that was.
I didn't think of anything better (at least, not at the time – I thought of 'The Mummy's Curse' a couple of years later, but by then the blog was long since established under the current title), and so 'Good Enough Mum' the blog became. It's not the most eye-catching title in the world, but it's a small memento of a fine blog that is no more and should be. And, most importantly, it's a reminder to me not to sweat the small stuff – to get away from aiming for perfection, and focus my energies on the things that matter.