Around this time last year I was adjusting to life in a brand new place – Doha, the capital city of the state of Qatar. It was thrilling, eye-opening, exhausting and challenging.
One of the biggest challenges was being in a new land with a 7 year old and neither of us having any friends. With the other limitations of intense heat and Ramadan, we spent days and weeks REALLY struggling for things to do. We rediscovered something called imagination and got very creative with things we could find around the home, something I wrote about in my post Learning To Play – Your Way.
But we also spent an inordinate amount of time relying on screen-based entertainment and I felt so guilty about this. I posted a message up on Facebook about how rubbish a mom I felt and my friend (and Rene’s work husband) Richard said ‘you need to check out Good Enough Mother!’ So I did and on this very site I found words of comfort, humor, inspiration and most of all sanity. We were doing what we could and that was good enough.
So in honor of GEM and the fact that it’s been almost a year since I first discovered the sage words offered by Rene (and my fellow columnists) here’s my take on the famous Ten From GEM rules. In no particular order…
Everything Stops For Wine-Thirty – Yes, yes and yes. Sometimes wine-thirty is 9pm when all is quiet in the house and a cheeky little Sauvignon Blanc in front of the TV before bed (for I am mostly an early-to-bedder) takes the edges of the day nicely. Other times, 4.30pm mid-week after a particularly demanding homework session, seems like a perfectly reasonable time to liberate some of the corked-wonder.
Good Food Can Come From A Can – Heinz Baked Beans, that’s all I’m saying.
No Competitive Parenting – A recent exchange with another mom at a children’s birthday party:
Me: ‘Yes, Oliver never used to drink fizzy pop but they’ve kind of crept in…I do limit him to one can a…’
Other Mom ‘Week?’
Me, momentarily squirming in embarrassment ’Erm no, a day’ (voice trailing off into a whisper)
Other Mom ‘A DAY?!’ said with shock and an incredulous laugh.
Me: ‘Yes but he doesn’t always have one and they’re mostly sugar free and often one of those small cans and I try to make sure he’s not getting too much sugary stuff on top…’ then I stopped, pulled myself together and reminded myself of that magical phrase that makes up number 3 on Ten from GEM: I DON’T CARE! I-DON’T-CARE!!
And backing it all up is number 10 – THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO PARENT! My son understands that fizzy pop, sweets, cake etc, etc, etc are not the mainstays of a healthy diet but he has them because there’s something that underlines it all: balance. And he has them because sometimes it’s just good to have some FUN and not just, well, water.
Teach The Difference Between Want And Need – You want a Playstation? We need to make sure we’ve got food on the table and a roof over our heads. The Playstation will come at a suitable time and age, like say your 8th birthday.
Ollie waited 18 months for his Playstation. Last month on his 8th birthday he got it. He appreciates it all the more for the wait and the reasoning.
Do Your Best And Accept That Is The best You Can Do – I cannot do what another person does, my son cannot do what another child does. We can only do what we do the way we do it in the time it takes us to do it to the best level we can. Accept your own limitations and value your own strengths. There is no other way.
Take Yourself Off The Bottom Of The List – For me it’s about giving myself the permission to do the things I enjoy for me so that I have balance in my life; it’s about demonstrating self-worth.
Cultivate Interests That Are Yours And Yours Alone – I had an epiphany recently. I realized that I had an interest that all my adult life I’d pushed aside, undervalued and always felt terribly guilty about doing because I hadn’t been viewing it as an interest.
It was something I loved to do with my sister as a teenager but somewhere between leaving college and having a family, my hobby got shunted into the odd guilt-ridden stolen hour or two. To be valid it had to be driven by a specific and necessary purchase:
The fact is I love to browse the shops. I love to work my way through the rails and shelves in clothing stores, to rummage through the CD’s and DVD’s in the music store, the treasures in antique, interior and gift stores and I realized that I love to do these things without the pressure of necessarily spending any money. I find it uplifting, fun and often inspiring without the need to actually buy something. Though the hunt for a bargain is one of the most satisfying things I can think of.
But I used to feel guilty! Not now though. Now I’ve elevated looking around the shops to the place it deserves in my life – for me and me alone.
One final point, none of my comments means I have these things licked. I panic, feel guilty, worry and put plenty of pressure on myself. But the compass of imperfection means I find my way back eventually and then I take a huge sigh of relief and realize it’s just about wine-thirty. Cheers!
But what about you? I’d love to hear how Rene’s Ten From GEM’s have helped you. And do you have more to the add to the list? Fire away…
Nikki Newman, 36, from England, currently lives in Qatar, where she moved this year due to her husband’s work. A former teacher and proud mother of 7-year-old Oliver, she’s currently focusing on settling her family into their new lives, while also pursuing her passion for painting. To see Nikki’s work please go to: www.nikkinewmanart.com.