Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Good Is Enough

We're "good enough" people. People who aren't inclined towards perfection. We have small ambitions. We're easily pleased with our efforts. 

Yesterday in the few moments after Tom came back from church and before I had to head to work, we worked outside, putting sections of the yard to bed for winter, letting Sena stoke a fire with damp leaves. Our goal was not lofty. We have no expectation that our yard will ever look like the visions I find myself pinning late at night when the house is still and quiet. But a few hours and a half dozen hands can make it look a little tidier, and that's all we ever really need. For things to be okay.

The mentality leaks into all facets of our lives. Our hobbies and parenting. The way we eat. The dinners I cook. The cleanliness of our home. Our finances. We aim for good enough, and it serves us well. Tom plays his homemade banjo knowing there are improvements he could make, seeing the flaws, but nevertheless, happily, proudly, often just a little too loudly. I post pictures that speak to my heart without concerning myself for long about their technical shortcomings. We are imprecise people.

This weekend I was talking to a friend about homeschooling. The past few weeks I have taken up a new mantra with old origins: "But first do no harm." Instead of worrying about all the things I'm not doing or about the myriad things I am doing badly, I'm concerned mostly that my children's love of learning is not dampened, that their happiness fills the crevices of their days. 

There will always be people out there doing things better than I do. People who stick with their plans, who abide by schedules and who make checklists that actually get completed. I am not one of them, and Tom isn't either. For better or worse, we seem to be raising children who follow in our non-competitive, unexacting footsteps.  I see it in the way Sena does math, the way Gus plays soccer.  It's a trait that will not always serve them well, but sometimes it will be just what they need. It will let them be content with what they have. To accept accept themselves for who they are. It will allow them the freedom to try and fail, or sometimes to try and quit. And they will be prepared to move on and try again. 


  1. A beautiful post. From here, they seem to be doing just fine. That bit from 'For better or worse ...' to the end? Golden. They will never need to sit in a psychotherapist's office, unpicking the introjects they've absorbed from their parents, unable to be themselves :).

    1. I sure hope so, Alexa. It sure feels fine. Hope they'll agree once hindsight kicks in.

  2. I wish this were pages and pages longer, it spoke so deeply to who we are as a family also. Your family is dear and made from all the right and real stuff. Being content is truly the greatest gain in all the world.
    And I agree with Alexa. That bit about never needing psychotherapy is hilarious but oh so true!

    1. Laura, thanks. For understanding.
      But seriously, who knows about the psychotherapy. Maybe they will blame me not not pushing them or for feeding them too much oatmeal or making them do chores. There is always something to blame your mother for.

  3. Oh, Rachel! I just "met" you, but I'm pretty sure I love you already :)
    We were "you" many years ago. I never put it into the words that you use here, but they describe us back then-- and to a certain extend, still do. (I'll turn 67 on Christmas day.)
    You'd have to ask our children, I guess. They'd tell you how imperfect we were, but they are doing well. We are proud of each of them ♥