This afternoon, my husband sat with my little girl while she did her school reading. She wasn’t concentrating. She was tired from school, her gym class and then seeing the nurse for her flu vaccination. She still hadn’t eaten because they were reading while I made dinner.
I could hear my husband getting frustrated with her as she fidgeted about. I came in to see what was going on. She couldn’t concentrate, wouldn’t sit still and kept playing with her clothes and her glasses. He was pointing at words and she wasn’t looking at them.I reminded her of a chat we’d had before she started school. She’d listed all the jobs she’d like to do when she grows up. A doctor, nurse or police officer among other things. She might like to go into space or maybe she’d work with children or be a hairdresser. We had explained to her that whatever she wanted to do, she would have to try hard at school.
And she does. Every day she comes home excited at all the new things she has learnt. She tells us why her teacher was pleased with her and how she helped the staff or other children. And we’re proud of her.
And yet, when we know that she’s tired and can’t concentrate we continue to push her. I pushed her without thinking. And I did it despite knowing that she always tries her best, it’s in her personality. She wants to be a good girl, she loves to please us and she wants to do well at school.
Realising I’d got it wrong
And it wasn’t until later on that I realised pushing her was the wrong thing to do. Because I need to teach her to be good enough. Not to try harder, to push herself and want to do everything perfectly and be the best. But to know that whatever happens, she will always be good enough.
I want her to know that if she needs to take some time out, she can do it. If she can’t concentrate on reading, that’s okay because she’s already good enough. And when she’s older and she fails an exam, messes up her driving test or comes last in sports day I want her to know that it’s okay. Because she’s good enough.
In the future, she will choose a university, a course and then a job. She’ll compare herself to other people and some of them will be better at certain things than her. But I want her to know that even when she’s not the best at things, she’s good enough.
These days, we hear every day about how the mental health of teenagers and even children can suffer. They push themselves to achieve their own expectations as well as those that are imposed on them. And yet we keep telling them to work harder and do better. And we don’t teach them that they’re good enough.
Setting an example
And as an adult, I still haven’t mastered the art of knowing that I’m good enough. I love being a mum and I’m proud of my children, but I’m not proud of me. A year ago, I was working horrendously long hours on freelance work I wasn’t enjoying just to make ends meet.
Fast forward 12 months and I’m working a few hours a day making a similar amount of money from work I love. But it’s not enough. I still aspire to better myself from a work point of view. And I’m getting frustrated that it’s not happening as quickly as I’d like.
Whilst I was working all those hours last year, I let my fitness go too. I wanted to exercise more, set myself a challenge and feel like I’d achieved something. Just last weekend, I completed a 50 mile ultramarathon. But it wasn’t good enough. I didn’t train as much as I wanted, I walked a lot more than I’d hoped and now I want to do it better.
But I need to realise that I’m good enough. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I’m in a great position. I work from home, spend time with my children and still earn a good wage. I keep fit and I can run a long way. I’m not perfect, but I’m good enough. And until I accept that, I won’t be able to teach it to my children.
Do you remember to tell yourself that you’re good enough? Are you teaching that philosophy to your children? I’d love to hear how you do it.