‘Good Enough is the New Perfect’

I first started following Hollee Schwartz Temple (the one on the left) on Twitter mainly because she’s an author and I loved the title of her book: Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

Then I heard her speak at a conference on a panel about work-life balance. Hollee began by asking the audience, “How many of you were raised to believe you could do anything and be anything?” Most hands went up. “And how many of you took that to mean you should DO EVERYTHING and BE EVERYTHING?” Everyone laughed — and raised their hands.

Her talk really hit home for me, so I was thrilled when she sent me a copy of her book. (Can you tell by the picture I found a thing or 2 of interest?)

FINALLY, someone has addressed the real issues that plague me and most of my mom friends these days. Why, when we have so many choices, are most of us still struggling? When the real world isn’t as clear-cut as working or staying home with your kids, where are all the role models who are successfully navigating the in-between? And why do so many of us feel like we’re going it alone?

While Hollee and her co-author, journalist Becky Beaupre Gillespie, surveyed over 900 women and conducted in-depth interviews with 100 of them, it’s the authors’ personal stories that resonated deeply with me. When Hollee describes counting down the minutes until bedtime when her boys were small, then feeling guilty for not appreciating them, I thought, That is me. And when Becky describes how she didn’t want anyone to think she was “just a mom,” so when someone asked her what she did, she described what she’d done BEFORE becoming a mom? Yeah, that’s me, too.

I’ll be honest: at first, several of the high-achieving women interviewed in the book sparked envy in me. Prominent lawyers, a VP for Christie’s, successful entrepreneurs. But then I read on, and discovered all their worries and frustrations sounded eerily similar to mine. Also? The women who weren’t happy were longing not for more prestige or bigger paychecks, but for more time with their families, more fulfilling work, more connection with friends and neighbors – all stuff I have in spades. Hmmm, so if you look at “success” in THAT light…maybe it’s not just the moms with the impressive business cards who can claim it.

If there’s one common theme I’ve noticed among all the moms I’ve met over the last 5 years since I became one myself, it’s that nearly every one of them — stay-at-home, working, or somewhere in between — is WAY too hard on herself. I’ve heard moms apologize for letting their kids eat an occasional donut, for their child not being potty trained yet, for not enrolling their second or third child in enough enriching activities. I’ve heard moms beat themselves up for working too much, earning too little, and needing more help. It’s madness, people. MADNESS.

Not only that, but it’s a terrible example for our kids. You’re not successful unless you’re awesome at everything? Gwyneth Paltrow notwithstanding, that’s an impossible goal for most of us mere mortals. (BTW, even Gwyn admits she’s bad at math. Possibly the only thing we have in common.) Personally, I’d like my kids to have a broader definition of success — and to learn that it’s OK to define it for themselves.

Buy the book. It’s $9.41 on Amazon. You probably spend that much at Starbucks on a latte and overpriced baked goods. I guarantee you will come away with a new perspective on success, motherhood, and what “having it all” really means to you.

QUOTE O’ THE WEEK: “We do not need to be perfect to be successful moms, professionals or women.” – Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple


Shannon @ AnchorMommy said…

This book sounds right up my alley. I am SO happy I decided to leave my dream job for mommyhood, but I still have days where I try to do too much. Right now I'm super stressed because I'm afraid I've taken on too much freelance work, but I was also afraid to say no. There's this little voice the back of my head saying, "You're pushing yourself too hard!" Am I? I don't know…

Thanks for the great review — can't wait to read this!

Jennifer Fairman said…

Shannon – you sound like me 😉 OMGoodness, you always have great posts to share, and this one is going on my book list – thanks always for thinking/blogging out loud!

Sam said…

Thanks for the great review, I'll have to pick this one up. It does seem like sometimes trying to do everything just means you end up doing nothing well.

Autumn M.P. said…

Thank you for this great rec, it's definitely time for mommies to take back our happiness. I wrote a blog post on a similar topic a few weeks ago. Happy Friday!


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