After I verbalized my frustrations in the previous two posts, I went to a garage sale yesterday after picking up middle daughter from kindergarten and I found a very interesting book called The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied by Brad E. Sachs, Ph.D., a family psychologist. We almost didn’t go to that garage sale, because youngest daughter (5) did not want to go. I had left her in the car, but it didn’t take long before she started crying. I almost didn’t buy it, but I’m so glad now that I did. I think it was waiting there more me to find it just when I needed it.
This book is about forgiving, even embracing, imperfection, for I believe the search for the ideal is the enemy of the achievable and the realizable. Once we let go of the image of the perfect family and accept ourselves and each other for who we are, we will become the best and most loving parents a child could ask for. To do so requires that we say good-bye to a tantalizing dream, but it enables us to greet a delicious reality, the reality of family love, with its wonderfully complicated texture, its bright and shadowy moments, its healing and redemptive power.
Of course, everyone pays lip service to the idea that we need to accept our children and ourselves, that children feel loved and do best when they are appreciated for who they are, not for what they do, and that acceptance involves distinguishing between what you want FOR your child and what you want FROM your child. We hear this, but unfortunately nobody tells us exactly how to do it in such a way that accepting your child doesn’t mean simply giving up on him.
This book will not only encourage you to be more accepting, but will demonstrate, through vignettes and case histories, how to do that while still playing a positive, proactive role in the life of your child.
….I hope that you will hear in these pages a voice that is not grounded in dreams and fantasies, but in the hard, daily realities faced by anyone who is raising children and trying to infuse a family with the sense of intimate connection that gives life dignity and meaning.
I have a lot of work ahead of me…a LOT. I’m not a bad mother, or a bad person, nor are my kids a bad fit for me. I’ve just had so many things happen to me that it’s difficult to sort them all out. Each of the vignettes address one issue. I have experienced at least 4 of them if not more. I never consciously adopted a negative/defeatist attitude, but it’s no wonder why this parenting journey has completely flooded me and set the stage for my feeling incompetent and depressed.
There’s too much I’m aware of and haven’t been able to organize any of it and break it down into manageable parts so that I can systematically work on the problems. The problem isn’t that I don’t see the big picture, because I DO, the problem is that I can’t focus on the individual parts long enough to work on them.
No wonder I just shut down, want to curl up and die sometimes because I don’t feel up to the challenge. The task is monumental and intimidating.
But it’s important that I give it my best shot.