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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Whatever Happened to Good Enough…

October 24th, 2013 · 38 Comments

We have been on a school break and academically this is the busiest time of year for my kids as they surge forth into projects, creating and researching and well just doing. Which is why I have been keeping up with the laundry and the dishes and well Spring cleaning… it really is the season!!! You wouldn’t believe it though, with all the dozens of cold, rainy days… one would think that by now we would be enjoying sunny days beside the pool – but none of that. Which, don’t tell anyone I said this, is really a good thing. I have been able to re-sort, shuffle the kitchen… sort out our messy back room that I hardly ever put on our blog, because… well why would I!!! And gather up the kids schoolwork ready to box and store before we start the next year.

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As I sort through my kids’ schoolwork I see pages of great work and then something really shabby… I see pages of fabulous, well-illustrated notes, followed by some very mediocre work. Everything in me wants to call my students back to the table and finish that one remaining map… or whip through those last few pages of word problems. You know, for completeness and perfection and all that. And I think back to when I was in school – my marks were galactically mediocre all the way through primary school. I was never called back at the end of the year to re-do an assignment I hadn’t done well… you got your marks and lived with it. And I don’t intend to call any of my students back to the table either – tempted, but I won’t. Because, to be honest their work is good enough. Some of it isn’t, but enough of it is. I think as a mom we are so busy looking for perfection in our kids that we sometimes forget that “good enough” is really perfect too.

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It’s not just about kids and it’s not just about school, we spend countless hours looking for the perfect fit, the perfect match… I remember waiting in a fitting room with a friend while she tried on twenty-eight pairs of jeans… looking for the perfect fit. At least two thirds of them were good enough… but she was looking for perfection. When she asked if I wanted to help her to find matching shoes I declined the invitation. The quest for perfection can so ruin things that are really more than good enough: choosing just the right colour for a bridesmaid dress, how to celebrate graduation… these are the sort of things that can make or break friendships. The trap I fall into constantly: Looking for the perfect gift… aaahhh looking for a gift that means as much as your friendship and then worse – keeping it a secret for the inevitable surprise. My poor friends often have to settle for a slab of chocolate, I just crack in that quest for perfection.

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Recently we couldn’t decide on what to get our youngest for his birthday. We have a policy of one fab gift. We agonized, we pondered, we went around in circle. In the end, and on the day, a mad rush of circumstances way beyond our control led us to a toy store that we never ever shop in. We let him choose something. He picked a jeep (a man after my own heart). It was not the perfect gift: the classic picture book, the beautiful wooden toy to add to our collection. It was a jeep and the doors open and close and it hasn’t broken yet. He was happy with it, and the gift was good enough… perfect in fact – he loves it and will cherish and remember it as his first real car, for a long time to come. In fact, how often at the end of a long tiring day have I wanted to create the perfect evening and set aside a pile of favourite books to read at bedtime and then gone out of my way to create the perfect dinner – when I didn’t have all the ingredients and I have chosen a meal that takes hours… Everything ends up late and by the time a semi-recognizeable dinner is served… everyone is way too tired and cranky and dashed off to bed straight afterwards, without a glance at the stories. Seeking perfection, when an egg on toast would have been good enough.

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The pursuit of excellence, has become so much more than a book title, it has become our cultural norm, our lifestyle. Everything counts. To be honest, my kids’ biggest achievement in the summer ahead is probably going to be some sort of fort, that they add to and add to and add to… it is not going to be an architectural achievement and none of them will win any awards. What they will get is a belief in themselves, they will know what they can and can’t do. They will learn to negotiate and tackle a problem as a team and they will spend hours and hours dreaming and plotting and planning. Their fort will be good enough for reading a book and playing house, it will keep them busy day after day. It won’t be perfect and it is unlikely to get them a job one day, but it will be good enough for a summer well spent.

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My kids are replenishing and restoring their balance… and I have been busy. I could learn a thing or two from them, and the big lesson hear is stop seeking perfection and settle for good enough. There school books are sorted well enough on the shelf; their closets, are sorted – not perfectly, but well enough for another year to step into; the kitchen counters aren’t perfectly clear… but they are all good enough. And sometimes we need to settle for good enough and enjoy our blessings for what they are… rather than seeking perfection and not noticing that the “good enough” we live with is indeed perfection enough.

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Tags: Kids · Thoughtful Thursdays

38 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katie S // Oct 24, 2013 at 3:22 am

    Great post!

  • 2 Christi // Oct 24, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Here, here!

  • 3 Vanessa from StyleandShenanigans.com // Oct 24, 2013 at 3:54 am

    What sage advice! I agree that good enough at times can be pretty fabulous and we all need to balance striving and doing our best with glorious mediocrity. Thank you for your reflections in this insightful post. x

  • 4 Lecia // Oct 24, 2013 at 5:59 am

    I am one who is ever on that press for perfect, but you just illustrated so simply how it doesnt have to be that way! Incredible! Truly what I needed just now. You are spot-on. again. Thank you.

  • 5 Efi Maryeli // Oct 24, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Oh! the perfectionism beast!!! It’s always there, trying to lure you in its cave!!! I know the feeling!!!
    Yes, good enough is enough. And sometime, more than enough!!!!
    Efi Maryeli´s last blog post ..IF – Entangled

  • 6 Nita // Oct 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I can certainly take a leaf out of this book!- awesome post :)

  • 7 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Thank you Katie S, I am glad you enjoyed the read… hope you have had a great week!!!

  • 8 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Christi, Glad you enjoyed it!!! Hope you have a fabulous day!!!

  • 9 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Thank you Vanessa, “Glorious mediocrity” love that expression and it certainly takes the pressure off!!! So pleased that you enjoyed the post and hope you and your family have a really “good enough” weekend!!!

  • 10 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Lecia, Obviously great minds think alike… this post and at least one follow-up post have been top of my mind just lately!!! I am so glad you enjoyed the post and hope you have a great weekend… nearly there!!!

  • 11 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Oh Efi, It is a beast isn’t it!!! I have so discovered that good enough is just that… far more than enough, time and time again!!! I hope you have had a great week!!!

  • 12 se7en // Oct 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Thank you Nita, Glad you enjoyed it!!! Sometimes I just need to write a post that spews out what I am thinking!!! I hope you are enjoying the sunshine today, have a good one!!!

  • 13 Tammy // Oct 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    i love your blog!

  • 14 Cindy // Oct 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    You do not know how perfect your timing was for this post. I really needed that (need to sneak it in for my mom to read too!).
    Thanks for starting my weekend off on the right foot! (and my kids will thank you too!)

  • 15 tcmullinax // Oct 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    My mom always said “good enough won’t get you into heaven!”

    I completely disagree!! ;)

  • 16 Kim Allen // Oct 24, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I love this post. Who gets to decide what perfect is anyway? The idea that everything should be a certain way for us to be successful is a such a terrible lie. Relationships are all we really have at the end of the day….everything else should facilitate the growth of those relationships…otherwise its in the way!

  • 17 tcmullinax // Oct 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Se7en!

    We are starting Sonlight Core 100 Monday-mostly because of your in-depth posts!! (They should really pay you a commission!!!!!) I’ve been trying to download the Study Guides to go with the History of US books by Joy Hakim in the private forum-I can click on the links, but they don’t print! GAH!!! So frustrating!!

    Did your wonderful hoods fill these in while they were reading through the books? My daughter is reluctant to take notes, but I think she’d fill in the Study Guides.

    If you have the SG’s, would you consider emailing them in an attachment to me? Dear daughter is supposed to read Chapters 1-3 in the first book in the series-called The First Americans-on Monday. I would love to have these ready to go before then.
    Thank you so much!

  • 18 Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot // Oct 25, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Hi Se7en,

    Still amazed as ever by your energy and attitude as the first time I read you :)

    I think it’s much better to specialise in doing the things you love really well and just being good enough at other stuff. I’ve often tried to be as good as possible at everything but that’s too hard and not a good use of time.

    Bring on the imperfections! I’m sure your kids have plenty of work and play memories that you and them are very proud of and I can see why you skipped on the shoe shopping. Perfectionists are hard to hang out with!!
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot´s last blog post ..Urban Safari in Harare and Zimbabwe Travel Myths Busted

  • 19 Shells // Oct 25, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Lovely post xx

  • 20 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Thank you Tammy!!! You are a fab friend and I love having you stop by!!!

  • 21 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Hay Cindy, I am just so thrilled that this post resonated with our readers!!! I hope you have a great and restful weekend!!! Lots of love… and all the best!!!

  • 22 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Hi tcmullinax… Luckily your mom is right (too a point!!)… Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
    Absolutely nothing we can do will be good enough to get into heaven, it is only by grace!!! However, good enough could really get your kid into college or a foot in the door of the career they want to follow and good enough really could get you “just doing” a whole lot of things that you thought you could’t do – but were putting off because you thought they had to be perfect… like painting a mural or making a quilt or keeping a journal. That’s a great double sided comment!!! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!

  • 23 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Kim, What a great comment, I really appreciate that, thank you!!! Hope you have a great day!!!

  • 24 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Hi tcmullinax, I totally don’t use the study guides and didn’t even know that they existed!!! I absolutely agree with you… when I looked at these books they looked so stunning I had visions of pages of beautiful notes and diagrams… mind maps and tables explaining things… What I got was a chapter title and often that was just “chapter 12″… not the actual title and a scrawled uninspired paragraph when I reminded them that this was required!!! Also, and far more important than notes, my kids loved, loved, loved these books… they read and re-read them… they poured over the pages, they quizzed each other and inhaled them… I’ll take that over beautiful notes anyday. My kids do have journals and they do fill them up with snippets and notes that intrigue them… but they aren’t necessarily what I would put in a notebook… see how it goes and if you just can’t print them then see what your kiddo will come up with… I think this is a great post – how to inspire your kids to write notes!!! I’ll get onto it, but it may take a week or two!!! All the best with your fresh start!!!

  • 25 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Annabel Candy, You stopped by and left a fabulous comment!!! Thank you so much, totally totally made my day!!! I have to say the expectations of perfection that we put on ourselves are often even more ridiculous than the expectations we put on our kids. Good enough really is that, good enough!!! And I am thrilled you had a great time in Zimbabwe, so happy for you that you could return there and reconnect. Hope you have a great weekend, and thanks again for stopping by!!!

  • 26 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Hay Shells, Thank you , so glad you enjoyed it!!! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!

  • 27 Lori // Oct 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    wonderful <3
    Lori´s last blog post ..Friday link round-up

  • 28 tcmullinax // Oct 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks Se7en! For the sermon and the advice!

    It’s as if you spoke directly to my mom!!
    ;) tc

  • 29 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks Lori, I really appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment!!! Hope you have a great weekend!!!

  • 30 se7en // Oct 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Hay there tcmullinax… Oh funny!!! Anytime you need a sermon just stop by… Hope you have a fabulous weekend and wishing you all the best for Monday…

  • 31 Michelle // Oct 26, 2013 at 12:42 am

    I very much needed to hear this today! Thank you! I love reading your blog!

  • 32 se7en // Oct 26, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Thank you Michelle, I am so glad that you enjoyed it, this post really connected with so many readers… right where they were. So thank you so much for stopping by to comment, it is really encouraging. Hope you have the most fantastic weekend!!!

  • 33 Katja // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Great post!

  • 34 se7en // Oct 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Thank you Katja, Hope you have a great week!!!

  • 35 Irene // Oct 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    thanks for this – I often need this reminder as a teacher…

    AND a chocolate slab / gift from you is the BEST chocolate in the world!!!

  • 36 se7en // Oct 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Hay Irene… So glad you like those chocolates… now you know how many hours I spent thinking about it, before settling on a slab of the best!!! Hope your week is a fabulous one!!!

  • 37 Sam // Oct 29, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Great post and so so true!!! I really could do with being reminded of this on a regular basis, weekly will probably do! Enjoy the summer to come xx

  • 38 se7en // Oct 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Thank you Sam, So glad you enjoyed the post and we are still looking forward to summer, it is getting warmer… but not quite there yet!!! Hope you have a fabulous week!!!

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