Finding Nemo

“Finding Nemo” is one of my favorite movies. Ever. Even if I didn’t have kids I’d say that. It’s a quotable movie, life lessons and funny quips abound. Just think: “Righteous! Righteous!” Or another favorite (also from Dude Crush) “Oh, it’s awesome, Jellyman. The little dudes are just eggs, we leave ’em on a beach to hatch, and then, coo-coo-cachoo, they find their way back to the big ol’ blue.” Lately, I’ve had Marlin and Dory in my head. Marlin bemoans having promised Nemo nothing bad would ever happen to him. Dory, in her infinite wisdom says: “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

I can’t protect my kids from everything. I can only give them guidance and tools, set a good example and work with them when they make mistakes, ask for help or need a hug. I fight against the urge to do it all for them, to give them a pain-free childhood, protect them from teasing, potty accidents, forgetting their glasses. There is a difference though between a pain-free childhood and a learning childhood. My childhood was filled with pain. Not the normal pain of learning, growing, making mistakes and growing from them, of building self-esteem and confidence through experience. The pain I grew up with was on a continuum—it was not “Precious” pain, but it was not “The Waltons” either. So, my parenting needs some tweaking.

I like quotes. Song quotes, movie quotes, even quotes of old friends that somehow have stuck in my head because they resonate. I replay them a lot. So with Dory’s wisdom on the one hand, I will quote my dear high school friend Ellen on the other. “It’s overcompensation for past behavior.” We both had family dysfunction issues, teenager issues, issues about issues, whatever it was, we bonded on a deep level, supported each other’s darkest places and shared a lot. We also laughed. She encouraged me, in her infinite realistic wisdom, to try stand-up comedy. She’s done it and I’m sure she was hilarious. We laughed so much, not at dopey fart jokes but at the irony of real life, at the things that really make people laugh because they are true or exaggerated truth and they resonate.

Anyway, back to the overcompensation. I’m doing it now with my children; I’m doing it today as a mom and it’s time to peel away at it, leave the past where it belongs, to move forward as who I am. I am a good enough mother. And that’s all I need to be. But I alternate that with trying to make up for the mistakes my own mother made by doing it all, and when I don’t by feeling bad about myself. I can never make up for my past. What I can do is pave the way for a different future. Create a different present. I am not perfect—I know that doesn’t exist and even if it did, I don’t have the energy, vehicle (I can only fit one other kid in the back seat of my Passat) or crafting skills to be the perfect mother. Not only that; perfection is not good for my kids. It changes their view of the world and their view of themselves. They become different people when I try to create a perfect world for them. I fight this urge, I sit with their feelings of fear or pain or anxiety and try to see them as a part of growing up knowing that I am giving them a pain-free childhood but a learning childhood. At least I’m trying. After all, I’m not perfect. I’ll just keep swimming.


  1. heartwriter says:

    There is a book we both need to get and read…The Good Enough Mother, just heard about it this weekend from a therapist friend.

    Damn straight JK, you are definitely a good enough mother and even better than that for being so aware!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s