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The enemy of good

During a recently attended Girls' Night Out Art & Wine night, a very good friend of mine was attempting to help me improve my artwork by telling me that sometimes I just have to stop trying to make things better.  I was having a hard time putting down my paintbrush and walking away from the painting.  I kept trying to add something more that would improve it.  In my friend's role as a doctor, she explained to me a common surgical expression that the enemy of GOOD is BETTER - that sometimes, in trying to make things better, you can actually cause more harm or make things worse.  Sometimes, we have to be satisfied that things are just good.

In the time since this night, I have contemplated this concept  - especially as it relates to my children and my parenting.  I look at my children and see beautiful creatures.  But, then I often wonder what I can do or teach them that will make things easier for them or allow them greater opportunities.  I constantly question how I can be a better parent.  I go through lists and lists of "If only's."  If only I watch them more closely to keep them safe.  If only I work more on educational skills and principles.  If only I fed them more whole foods.  If only the house was cleaner.  If only my kids behaved better more times.  If only there is a way I can help to make my kids better.  If only I could be a better parent.  If only...

It is often when I am attempting to make the lives of my children better that I find myself battling them - or myself. The truth of the matter is that I am imposing a fallacy onto my kids' lives.  In trying to do more or be more of a parent - or in teaching my children that they need to do more or be more than they already are - I am not accepting who my children really are - or who I really am.

A prior teaching mentor of mine once taught me - as I was beginning a teaching career - that a C means a child is average.  That's not a bad thing.  It means that they are exactly where they are supposed to be for their development.  As a parent, I've also found myself congratulating my children for hitting a higher level of the growth chart.  What is it about a child being above the 90th percentile in growth that makes us feel as though they are somehow better than another child?

A spectrum is often necessary in order for us, as parents, to determine that our child is learning and growing.  However, we often miss the concept that it takes all types of children to fill a spectrum.  It is not possible for every child to be the best.  It is through the challenge of not always being at the top of a spectrum that a child truly grows.  But, it is also in understanding that our children - and our own parenting - have limitations that truly helps us be better.

This thought that better is better is one that we need to shed.  Yes, there will be times in our and our children's lives when we need to do better, but this is the exception - not the rule.  Sometimes what we think of as being just good is truly the best we can do for us and our kids.  Sometimes, what we think of as being just good is what others look at and see as the best.  Having faults in our lives is ok - after all, we're human.

So, as we approach the New Year, I am going to attempt to start afresh with the knowledge that my good may be someone else's better and someone else's better may be my worse.


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