Updated: Apr 14, 2018
As Shakespeare once asked "what's in a name?".
My name's Goodenough, Jane Goodenough.
It's a great name, isn't it? Amusing to most people, it also served to get me out of some awkward confrontational moments back in my customer service days:
Angry Customer: "What's your surname, I'm going to make a complaint!"
Me: "It's Goodenough"
AC: "No, I want your surname as well"
Me: "No no, it really is Goodenough! G-double O-D-E-N-O-U-G-H"
AC: *momentarily silenced*
AC: "Oh. Well. That's not one you hear every day, where's it from?"
As someone who's nursed a pretty damning self-image for most of my life, it's also seemed a rather cruel joke at times though. I mean, can you appreciate the irony of it? To actually be called the very thing that you feel you are not? Well, as you can perhaps imagine, it's felt pretty crappy at times.
And then I became a mum. And it was hard - no wait, 'hard' does not cover it. It completely turned my life upside down; I was now responsible for another life. Me! Someone who forgets EVERYTHING. Someone who couldn't be trusted to not burn a pan of baked beans was IN CHARGE OF A BABY! It was terrifying, exhausting, confusing, emotional and exhausting (yes I know I've said that already; it was just so bad it needed to be said again, ok?).
Have you heard of the psychoanalytical concept of the 'Good Enough Mother'? It's the theory developed by Winnicott in the 1950s that mothers are only supposed to mother their babies to a 'good enough' extent, to ensure that the infant moves on to its next developmental stage. Winnicott argued that women should be left alone by 'experts', to be allowed to trust their instincts because, he surmised, they innately know best how to mother.
Unfortunately, the one thing you are not short of as a mum, new or otherwise, is advice. It comes from everywhere. It's overwhelming, trying to sort through the contradictions of what different people are telling you and then trying to match it with a baby who (usually and resolutely) refuses to comply with whatever advice you are trying out. I felt the pressure to do things 'properly' right from when I was pregnant with Boo, my first child, and so I listened and read and worried over it all.
And then something happened. I'd signed up to Instagram in 2012 to look at other people's photos but, after moving away from my friends, I started to use it almost as a surrogate friendship group. I followed other women who were in a similar position to me (basically, mums), sharing in their good times, bad times and funny ones too. And, for the first time in my life, I started to appreciate the power of using positive speech to build yourself up.
These women were celebrating their motherhood, even whilst talking about how hard they found it. I know I may sound naive when I say that this was a new concept to me. Up to this point, pretty much all my interactions with other people about motherhood had involved me either asking for advice (or just being given it) and downplaying any problems I was having with my babies and definitely with myself. I mean, what was I going to do, admit I couldn't do it??
So coming into contact with a whole community of women who were prepared to share that it was all a bit stressful and difficult for them too was, for me, exhilarating. Not being good at talking, I haven't exactly struck up friendships on IG but I've read and watched their lives, I began to buy mother merchandise from those IG mums who sold it, I began to be proud of being a mum and to trust in my abilities as a mum. I started to believe in myself as a 'Good Enough Mother'.
This is me sporting my G.E.M. (Good Enough Mother) necklace from @KemiTelford. To me, Yvonne is a phenomenal woman. Her business aim with Kemi Telford is to encourage women to raise themselves up and appreciate their own individual phenomenal-ness (totally not an actual word but should be IMO). Her IG words of wisdom have helped me enormously, not just as a mother but as a woman, reminding me to celebrate myself - we don't need other people to do it, we can do it ourselves - and how powerful that can be. Ain't nothing wrong with a bit of self-love people. Oh and apologies for the boob shot, it's very difficult to take a photo of a necklace and keep them out of it. Apparently.
As you may have gathered by now from previous posts, I'm nowhere near close to believing in myself fully. Motherhood is probably as hard as it's always been - and it probably always will be. The annoying thing about children is that they keep blooming well changing all the time. But am I Goodenough??
My new aim in life is to get to a point where I'm proud of my name. In fact I don't want to be 'just' good enough but I'll settle for that for now. I don't honestly know whether it's possible. I'm so used to feeling the opposite, I think it's going to be a hard habit to break. But here's to trying anyway.
Thanks for reading.