Never Good Enough

I never smoked, I never drank, I never did drugs. I never went out alone. I didn’t hang out with bad friends, actually I had no friends to hang out with. I wore dresses only. I did not flirt. I never had sex. In fact, my husband was the first man I ever held hands with, much less kissed. I was at home most of the time. I helped dress younger siblings, I changed diapers, I cleaned, I helped siblings with home school. I cooked most of the dinners for my family.

Sometimes I worked so much around the home during the day, I had a hard time keeping up with my own schoolwork.

I wasn’t the perfect teen. I was depressed for several years. I didn’t always have the best attitude, I tended to procrastinate. I loved to read, and I often got distracted by a great book. I talked back sometimes.

But I tried. I loved my family. I wanted to please my parents. I wanted to be a sincere christian. I wanted to be a good big sister.

It was never good enough.

The rooms I cleaned were rarely up to par. My clothing choices were too revealing. There were always diapers that I hadn’t changed. My parents were “disapointed that my standards were so low” when I wanted to subscribe to a christian girls magazine. My creative attempts at writing were labeled disrespectful because my characters had faults.The dinner I had made would be on the table too late in the evening. I was always behind in my schoolwork and it was my laziness that was holding me back. I was fat. Next to my tiny mother and sisters I felt desperate to be smaller and I often felt disgusted with myself whenever I ate, knowing that I was going to gain weight. Whenever I disagreed, I was “disrespectful”. I was often told that I would be allowed to do other things I wanted to do, but only if I achieved perfection in what I was already responsible for.  I was often told that “the root of all my problems was love of self”.

I found myself wanting to do something truly bad to illustrate what a “disobediant” kid actually looked like. I contemplated killing myself, I even planned how I could do it. At least the blight in the family would be removed.

I remember telling my Dad that I just wanted to be encouraged, to have what I was already doing recognized. And he responded, “In the real world, you don’t get praised for doing the bare minimum”.

So I tried to do more. Over and over again, I would start over. I would write in my journal that “from now on” I would be perfect. I would keep up with everything, I would serve without ever complaining, I would read chapters upon chapters of my bible every day, I would have more self-control and eat less. I would obey my parents without question every time. When I told my parents about these “resolutions” they told me how happy they were that I was starting to mature, the high hopes they had for the woman that I would become someday, and that it sounded as though I was finally nearing a breakthrough in my faith walk since up until now I “had been a christian, just not a good one.”

But in the end, it never lasted. Nothing made a difference.

It was never good enough.

It is so frustrating when regardless of how much you do, or how hard you try, it is never good enough. It’s even worse when you keep telling yourself that you aren’t good enough. Because that’s what I did. Even when I was married, with my own family, living in my own home, I still wasn’t good enough. Now with the addition of each child came more and more days where I truly could only accomplish “the bare minimum”. Which meant turning on cartoons for my toddlers while I lay on the couch pregnant with my 3rd and tried not to puke again. No dinner, no laundry, no fun projects with the kids, no getting out of the house. I felt like a horrible wife and mother.

But even on good days, I felt like no matter how many special efforts I made, there was so much more I could have done. No matter how much I cleaned in my house, I could have done more or I could have kept up with it better in the first place. I couldn’t allow myself to feel happy over a nicely cooked casserole, because I could have made biscuits and salad to go with it. I couldn’t feel like an adequate parent, because I always could have done better. I felt like I could never spend enough time with my kids, never affirm them enough, never teach them every thing I was supposed to. I couldn’t feel beautiful and sexy, because I knew that if I worked out more I could be a little thinner.

I often felt doomed from the start. What was the point of trying?

My husband told me over and over that I was enough. I wanted to believe him, but it couldn’t possibly be true. I knew I was failing everyone and he was just trying to be nice. For the first few years of our marriage I used to ask him if he wanted to have sex with me because he was attracted to me, or just because I was the only one he was morally allowed to have sex with and he was an honorable man.

* * * * *

My parents loved me. They still love me. But they let perfectionism undermine their parenting. And I believed the lie. The lie that says it could always be better. The lie that says it is never good enough. The lie that says that if we just worked harder, sacrificed more, and stretched ourselves a little thinner, nothing would ever go wrong again.

And now? I’m done. I’ve stopped trying to be perfect. I’m stopping myself every time I start to think that it could be better “if”. This process started when I was 18 and I purged my closet of all the size 6-8’s that I was hoping to fit my size ten body  into again. I remember feeling so free when I let that goal go, when I started eating what I what I needed to live instead of counting calories and feeling guilty for every bite I put in my mouth. It’s taken longer for some of the other area’s in my life. I still have a hard time ever feeling good about my housekeeping skills. Believing in my skills as a parent has been a journey. Believing my husband when he said he loved me took awhile. I still struggle to see myself as beautiful, but I’m working on it.

I’ve started to realize that life is made up of the little moments. Every time I read a book to my babies, every time I put in a video to distract them for a few minutes, every time I sweep the floor, every time I leave the dishes on the counter overnight, every time I serve a dinner, every time dinner bombs and we get takeout, every time I stop what I am doing and listen to what my husband is talking about, and every time we get into an argument instead. The good days when I accomplish everything on my to-do list, and even the bad days when I am only physically capable of “the bare minimum”.

It all adds up to a life that is good enough.

Bigger Picture Moment
I’m linking up to Bigger Picture Moments. This week it’s being hosted by Maegan at Life set to words. Hop over to her blog to read more about the Bigger Picture, and maybe share your own moment.

Re-Post: Lies we tell ourselves about abuse
Rather Dead Than Queer
What I Understand
Re-post: I am Not My Parents
  • Leah


  • This Heavenly Life

    I honestly want to cry and clap for you…to hug and reassure you. You seem so strong to me, but I know it's hard won. This was such a powerful, absolutely vital message.

    You are good.

    More than enough.

  • Joy

    Good for you, I'm so glad you are discovering the great goodness inherent in being yourself and letting those who love you love you.

    Early in our relationship my husband said "Thank you for being you" It rocked my world, coming from a home where love was very conditional the concept of being loved for who I was not what I did for you was so new.

  • Young Mom

    Sarah- I'm glad I sound strong, that makes me feel as though I might be stronger than I feel sometimes. :)

    Joy- I remember my huband insisting that he loved me just the way I am, it blew me away! I was used to feeling loved for "who I would become someday" or even how lovable I had been that day.

  • thesavingmomparents

    WOW…I think sometimes people don't realize that just because everything looks great on the outside doesn't mean it actually is. Especially a kid's life. I really believe that God loves us just the way we are. He doesn't look at our shortcomings and failures because He when He looks at us He sees us through Jesus. Through Jesus we are perfect. This is real freedom for me. I don't have a standard I have to measure up to in God's eyes. Sure people put all sorts of standards on us, but we don't have to carry their expectations. I'm glad you are getting free of that!

  • gibknitty

    a beautiful post.

  • katiemama

    Been reading your blog for quite some time but just now thought I would join in. Thank you for your honesty, about everything in your life. It is not easy to be a good wife, mother or Christian and I so appreciate that you can be real about what it looks like day to day.

    No one is perfect and thank God for that, otherwise why would we need His grace to carry us through? You're a beautiful witness to me of what it means to love your family and trust that God will fill in for the rest. Because of you we have decided not to spank our girls (i've got 2 under 2) and it has brought me so much peace. Thanks again!

  • Rebecca in CA

    This is beautiful and heartbreaking. It is really a wake-up call to me as a parent. I tend towards perfectionism not because of my parents but because somehow, early on, I determined that I had to be the best possible student, and my whole life was about getting all A's and being praised by adults around me. I find myself exerting and inward pressure on myself about everything in my life, almost as though I am addicted to the constant anxiety of being evaluated. And I know this comes out in my relations to my children; esp. my oldest who is a lovely, cheerful girl, but I think I criticize her imperfections more than I encourage her. I'm working on that, but old habits die hard. This is a good reminder to let the perfection go and just to love. Great post for Mother Teresa's birthday, who has so many great quotes about love: "Love is a fruit always in season, within reach of every hand."

  • Christine

    What a journey! What a brave, hard journey. And to have come around to what you have so young, bravo! This was a very moving post.

  • Jill

    Good enough…yes, indeed.

  • Kacie

    That's a pretty powerful journey to be on. What a shame … the amount of parents that do love their children but their children never feel good enough is really saddening.

  • Charity

    I am so sad for you for all the years you didn't feel good enough. I wish you had known God's grace during your growing up years to know that you were and are good enough. But I am happy to read that you are seeing and believing that now. This was indeed a moving post.

  • Young Mom

    Wow! I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the comments! Thank you for your encouragement!

  • Michelle

    This is beautiful. And I am so glad that you are starting to really truly believe that you are good enough. More than good enough, actually. :)

  • R Montalban

    I have no doubt you are beautiful, we all have something beautiful within each and every one of us in the same way that we are all different.

  • Young Mom

    savingmom- I still struggle to understand that God loves me. I think that this may be part of that.

    katiemamma- Thank you! I am so glad that you have been blessed by our story.

    Rebecca in CA- Thanks. I think one of the biggest blessings we can give our children is acceptance. To love them despite all their imperfections. And I have the same fears that I am going to pass on that perfectionism in my own parenting.

  • Erin

    Young Mom,

    I'm crying here for you:( {{}}

    Keep listening to your husband, you are beautiful. I can see it in the parts of yourself you share here and we are blessed to see, you have a beautiful soul.{{{}}
    And remember He loves you, imperfect and all, He loves us.

  • theworkinghousewife

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that, being told that you were never good enough. I had tears in my eyes reading your story. Hopefully, with God's strength, you can accept that you are perfect the way you are, that God does not expect us to perfect, just to give ourselves as best as we can. :)

  • Corinne

    It is a good life :)
    And like others have said, keep listening to your hubby!

  • Stacia

    Who needs immaculate floors when they leave less time to hug your babies? I'm so glad you broke free from the terrible not-good-enough voices and found your own strong one (or learned to believe in it, rather, since it was inside all along!).

  • Brooke

    I understand this on so many levels and points you named…this feeling of not being good enough is hard to overcome and definately spills into the new life you make after being married! Bravo to you for stopping this feeling! You are good enough!

  • Rebecca

    What a beautiful look at your life.

    I frequently remind myself that it all got me here. It might have been hard and confusing, but it all got me here.

    Prayers for continued days of strength and confidence for you.

  • Claire

    My beautiful friend! If you have not read "The Midnight Dancers" yet, I think it is going to REALLY resonate with you.

    And Joy, that's such a beautiful, simple truth: "Thank you for being you". True love is always undeserved, unearned, and therefore always a gift freely given and freely received. Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, highlights the individual worth of each human being just for that: their being! The value of every soul is not based on their accomplishment or skill. This is why we can look at those whom the world labels "useless" (the handicapped, unborn, aged, etc) and see their infinite beauty and worth in the eyes of God.

    Mother Teresa has so many soothing, true words, including this one that has uplifted me many a time. It came to mind immediately in reading this post.

    "God does not require us to be successful, but only to be faithful."

    Blessings always!

  • Amber

    Oh, wow. I am mixed between crying loads of tears and shouting, "Hooray!" This is a huge realization. Huge. The funny thing is, my parents were encouraging but I still told myself I could do more. Especially when I became a mom. In my own eyes, I could never be good enough because I didn't do (insert something) everyday. Reading this has encouraged me to ditch that thinking and really look at my accomplishments. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Anonymous

    I love all your writing, but this post really resonated with me. Thank you so much for sharing! You are a very strong person, don't ever doubt that. It takes a lot of strength to come from where you did to where you are now in your life and with your decisions!


  • Kate

    I think you've inspired me to trash some clothes I have carried too long, hoping to change my body to fit them. Learning to accept ourselves, even congratulate ourselves for our real lives, for what www really can do – wow.

  • Anonymous

    Your honesty is so beautiful. Have you ever considered getting therapy? There is a stigma of failure and weakness attached to it, but emotional breakages sometimes need professional help to heal properly, as much as a broken bone. I, like you, grew up in a very loving but very flawed and dysfunctional family, and getting therapy was the best thing I ever did for MY family.

  • Anonymous

    This post is all too real for me. You put it so well into words. I could feel my innards twisting up with the hurt and my throat ache with the rejection. I am starting to realize as I go on into Lutheranism, that God just loves me. period. nothing added by me. no because I. He just loves me. And this is His body and blood FOR ME. It overwhelms me at time.
    Sorry, that I am talking about myself on your blog. I just want you to know that you are not alone and it is so encouraging and helpful to me to read what you are going through and what you are realizing on the journey.
    Leigh Ann

  • Young Mom

    Thank you everyone!

    Claire- I LOVE Mother Theresa's quotes, she is an incredible woman. I've just finished "Midnight Dancers" and I hope to email you soon. :)

    Amber- I'm glad this encouraged you! My parents were "encouraging" too but now I realize that they mostly "encouraged" what they wished I would be, not ever who I was.

    Kate- Yes! Learning to love ourselves for what we have to offer now, not "someday when".

    Anonymous- Just this year I have realized that the "failure" in therapy is false. I actually have alot of interest in getting counseling. Like you, I want to do it for myself and my family NOW, instead of dealing with this stuff on my own for the rest of my life.

    Leigh Ann- Thank you for sharing, people that "write about themselves" is what gives me the strength to keep unwrapping the onion.

  • Hyacynth

    Oh, my heart just hurts for how you were treated as a child and all in the name of Christianity. Our works are not what define us. It's our hearts. Your heart wanted so badly to please parents that were just really hard to please. The freeing thing for me as I had a similar experience of trying to please imperfect parents was when I realized I only need to please one perfect Heavenly parent. And He is full of grace and He cares more about the heart condition than about actual tasks being completed perfectly. He always cares more about the act of obedience than He cares about the results. It's taken me a long time to come to this place.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and such a moving moment of realization.

  • Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations

    hi there, I have been exactly where you've been. I became a Christian after I was an adult and even after knowing Jesus and His love for me, some of these thoughts still persisted.

    Like you I was blessed to have been given a husband who loves me just as I am, and I began to finally understand that I am good enough. :)

    Today I don't use TO DO lists anymore. When my father complains about my weight I joke about it and remind myself that I am beautiful to Jesus and my husband. I have thrown out the perfectionist list that was handed out to me when I was growing up. Instead I have picked up a joyful one, like you that life is made of little moments.

    I make a point to remind myself how much my Savior loves me no matter what. He loves me! He loves you. You are perfect in His sight, because He has created you and He doesn't make anything faulty. :)

    Record new memories in your mind starting today. Instead of playing old videos from your childhood, begin today telling yourself about Jesus' love for you and all the gifts and talents and funny and quirky things He has deposited in you.

    You are amazing because He made you. :)

  • Young Mom

    Tereza- Thanks. :) I learning to replace the old messages with new ones, but it is an everyday challenge.

  • Renee

    This sounds almost exactly like my story! Thank you for sharing; I am so happy for you, that you have found the peace and "good enough" too! :-)

  • Amy

    Thanks for sharing your story! I’m still trying to figure these things out too.