Monday, 25 January 2016

Good Enough?

I hope my children are nicer to me when I get old than I am to my mum.

I hope they visit me willingly rather than drag their feet.

I hope they don’t roll their eyes when I ask the same question for the 20th time.

I hope they want me to live with them instead of leaving me to be cared for by others.

People say you are so patient, so kind, your mum is so lucky to have you. When I posted my first blog entry I received so many nice comments. They made me squirm because I didn’t feel I deserved them.

I am not always a willing carer, and I am not a perfect daughter.

I do my duty. And I do a lot of it so that other people wont think I am a bad person.

And then I get home and lie awake promising and regretting. Next time I really will be nicer, more patient, kinder. How can I be so furious with the woman who wiped my bum and soothed my nightmares?

She cared for me for years, the least I can do is return the favour.

Turns our caring is a lot like parenting; repetitive, frustrating, boring. And sometimes it’s a blessed relief to pay someone else to do it so you can go to work instead.

But of course it’s also rewarding, human, loving, and often delightfully funny. 

Parenting is a duty that is hard work but also really fulfilling. And you surprise yourself at your own capacity for caring and love. Daughter-ing is a lot like that too.

My favourite parenting theory is that of the 'Good enough parent' (deriving from the work of D. W. Winnicott, in his efforts to provide support for what he called "the sound instincts of normal parents” – thanks wikipedia). It gives me much comfort when I am knee deep in snot and unfinished homework. So I'd like to propose a new concept - the Good Enough Carer. I.e. I may not be perfect, but I am doing my best. And it’s actually ok to sometimes not enjoy it. Or actively resent it. Becoming a parent doesn’t automatically turn you into a saint, and neither does being a carer. She’s still my mum and she still has the capacity to turn me into a moody teenager. But because she’s still my mum, I will do my best to keep being a good enough daughter.

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