Our Story Begins:
I Don’t Need Your Ten Things
Two years ago I started writing for Good Enough Mother. I remember the post that started it all, too, one of Rene’s video posts from 2011. It asked: would you want a crystal ball to tell you what’s going to happen? Would you want to know whether your kids succeed or fail or follow the path you’ve helped them tread? After I posted a comment, Rene contacted me. She’d read my blog, seen what a terrible year 2011 was, and asked if I’d write.
Before I tell you the comment that started it all, let me explain why I said I’d write for Rene. The site, after all, says Good Enough Mother. Not parent, not guy, none of that. As silly as it sounds, I weighed if I fit in the community and wondered if I could contribute anything positive? Being a Dad, was I an outsider looking in? After reading more and more of Rene’s site and talking with her, the message was clear and one I’d already been teaching my kids: you don’t have to be perfect. Good enough is perfect. The laundry can be cleaned for the most part, but it won’t kill the kids to wear the same jeans a few days in a row. (It won’t!) There’s a little dust on the entertainment center and the kitchen is never clean enough. I was now part of a community of people…not parents, not mothers…people…who understood that was fine.
But there’s a new trend in social media that seems to want to bemoan the situation of being a parent. Go to Google and type in “The 10 things I wish I’d known…” My Facebook, Twitter, all the feeds are swamped with these. They tell me things I’ve known for years but don’t help me in any way.
When I became the only parent in a house with two girls and two boys, I had only the information I had gleaned before my wife’s untimely death. If, before I had children, I’d seen “10 things I wish someone had told me” I’d have skipped right past it. These posts do nothing to give me information I need and only exist to get massive clicks and web traffic for their websites. Telling me “you need to take time for yourself” and then closing with “getting a kiss; hug; tear; love from my kids shows me it’s the greatest thing in the world” is the parental version of the political posts you hate getting from your friends.
As a guy, here’s what I needed to know and learned by myself: removing blood from panties; getting grass stains out of jeans; explaining what porn is and why it’s bad (for boys and girls); getting my daughter to be safe when she’s in college; good versus bad cleavage…the list goes on and on.
But in the end . . . the philosophy I was embracing was what Rene has preached this whole time: you just have to be good enough. Not lazy, not ignorant, but knowing you did your best.
My comment two years ago was to say “no.” I don’t want a crystal ball. Just like those top ten lists, a crystal ball gives you a snapshot. One moment. Preaching to the choir, knowing a finite future, those things don’t benefit you. Wishing I’d known how bad losing sleep is and bemaoning the fact I can never go to the bathroom alone doesn’t help me.
The journey. That’s the enjoyable part. Remembering the story of how we got here . . . that’s what I choose to remember.
What about you? Do you share those Upworthy Buzzfeed pieces and worry about the “10 things you wish you’d known?”
Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.