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May 9 2011

Good Enough is the New Perfect

By at 1:39 pm

One of the best parts about being part of the Kveller community is that my fellow writers are so real. They share their stories of pregnancy and having babies and raising toddlers and all of the train wrecks that make up daily life with little ones. I have little time for mothers who write (and talk) as if they do it all, perfectly, every time. Because I know I sure don’t.

And that is why I was so pleased to come across Good Enough is the New Perfect, by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple (and yes, Hollee is an MOT, in case her name didn’t tip you off). The authors are both mothers of young children, and both women struggled mightily with their career choices when their children were born. They share their own stories in this book, as well as the conclusions they reached after surveying approximately 900 women, and interviewing nearly 100 of them in depth. Based on all of this data, Becky and Hollee came to an important conclusion—that mothers today can have the lives and careers we want, as long as we make decisions based on our own priorities and goals, as opposed to the pressures and expectations that so often influence and even dictate the choices we make.

There were several aspects of this book that resonated with me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who can appreciate what they have, even in the face of life’s many challenges. Becky and Hollee begin the book by acknowledging the mixed blessings of the many choices life has given them. They recognize the benefits of having opportunities, and they aren’t whining about them. But they are noting that crafting a life that is fulfilling both personally and professionally isn’t easy.

Good Enough touches on so many different aspects of my experience as a new mother struggling to find my way, at home, at school, and at work—the desire to give up at work, the hope of getting back in, the challenges of maintaining my relationship with my husband through all of it, and the ways in which technology represents both opportunities and limitations to finding balance. At one point in the book, the authors compare the balancing act of managing our work, our relationships, and our children, with solving a Rubik’s Cube: “In order to complete one side, we end up throwing the other five out of whack.” I haven’t heard a more apt description in a long time.

The stories in this book remind us that we can’t have it all, but we can have all of what we really want—what is truly important to us. Balancing work and family isn’t easy no matter what you do, but it’s not possible if you expect to be perfect at any of it. Sounds simple, but it’s not easy.

So, if you’re like me, and so many of my Mama friends, who are struggling to figure out the right balance, check out this book. It’s not going to give you specific answers, nor should it. But this book will inspire you to take action to create the life you want, and realize that Good Enough really is the New Perfect.

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