The good enough mother


My first venture into creative writing for many years, a little flash fiction…

Rebecca woke with a jolt, from her uneasy slumber. She had a sensation of heaviness on her chest, which she recognised from the days when Clem had been a toddler, as if that had been just a moment ago. She had fallen asleep, out of pure exhaustion, on Clem’s bed. The burden of the last few days had siphoned off her energy.

There had been a time when she wouldn’t go to sleep without her in the room. Clem resisted the lure of sleep so fiercely; so many times when I could have just closed my eyes and drifted off, thought Rebecca, and she would have had a party. The only way she would eventually settle was to lay on Rebecca’s chest, listening to the lub-dub of her heartbeat.

Her memories of Clem’s childhood had been running through her head all day, as she resisted the urge to think of the present. Baking gingerbread men together on rainy afternoons, her screaming at Clem for a simple mistake, the delights of watching Clem play in the garden, Rebecca stealing to bed when her emotions overwhelmed her, trying to understand Clem’s homework together, Rebecca’s horror the time Clem had stepped off a pavement without looking. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Rebecca could not work out how she had scored. She would never win any prizes for perfect mother, but in whose eyes would that be anyway? She often felt sorrow, that she had failed to do the best by Clem. But she also knew that there had been many blissful times, when Clem was filled with joy and happiness and filled Rebecca with the same. She hoped that it balanced out.

It was her phone that had jarred her from the sleep that had overcome her. It was still summoning her and she picked it up, looking hopefully at the lit screen. Waiting for this call had been almost viscerally painful. Her heart lifted as she saw Clem’s name alive on the screen, and relief surged through her body.

‘Hello, Clem’, she said as she connected the call.

‘Hi Mum,’ breezed Clem lightly as then she launched full flow into the details of the last few days, all the excitement and adventure, ignorant of the meaning of this call to her mother. Rebecca listened intently to the happiness in her voice and felt joy in the moment; Clem wanted to share all this with her. The details flowed around her rather than into her.

Rebecca had helped Clem to listen to herself and to explore the many possibilities of the world for this first foray into adulthood. The life that lay ahead of her was full of treasure to find, and now Clem was taking her own steps, out from under Rebecca’s wing, finding that treasure was her own responsibility. Listening to what Clem was saying, unconsciously, behind the words, Rebecca realised that here was the proof that as a mother Rebecca had done a good enough job.

Prose for Thought

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. What a great story! Sounds to me like Rebecca did a great job with Clem; we all strive to be ‘good enough’ and I think most of us exceed this without knowing it.

    1. Thanks Johanna. It is very true that we often do better as a parent than we realise. X

  2. This sounds more fact than fiction, to be honest. The story of our lives as parents. #prose4T

    1. I hope that it will proven so! Thanks for reading.

  3. Alice, I can’t tell you how much I relate to this story. It’s not just beautifully written, it resonates so much with me. I actually started my blog four years ago, on the premise of wondering how we measure up as parents. My daughter is on the verge of making her own way in the world and it’s on my mind constantly! Thank you for sharing your lovely words!

    1. Lucy, thank you very much for your lovely comment, it means a lot to me. I think my blog must have a similar slant to yours so I will head over and take a look around. My daughters are still young, but I already think about this separation of child from parent a lot, hence my imaginings. I hope that we can both reach that moment like Rebecca and feel relief that we did it right. Xx

  4. This is beautifully written Alice and I love the reminiscing that Rebecca does throughout the piece. I hope to feel the same about Grace one day. Keep up the great writing. Thank you for linking to #Prose4T x

    1. Thank you Victoria. I hope I do too! Xx

  5. maddy@writingbubble says:

    As a parent, this was an emotional read. I could almost feel the weight of Clem-the-toddler on me and I also felt Rebecca’s sense of loss about her child having grown up. Sometimes I can hardly bear the idea of mine getting so big they leave, even though I KNOW it’s normal and really them making their own way in the world is what I want. Sounds like Rebecca is a great mother to Clem. Well done for writing creatively again – it feels like a big leap when you haven’t done it for years but the only way is up from here and you are starting with some very sound foundations.Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting xx

    1. My girls growing up and leaving home weighs on me so much already too. Like you say it is normal and desirable but somehow that doesn’t make the idea easier to bear. It sounds funny to say but I am glad my little story had such a strong effect on you, only because it means I must be doing something right with my writing. xx

  6. This has left me feeling quite emotional thinking about that inevitable time when Arthur will be ready to spread his wings. It’s a way off yet, but still so much of my time now is spent wondering if I am doing the right things by him to prepare him for the big wide world! Great little piece of writing. Looking forward to reading more. xx

    1. Thanks Sophie. It is still along way off for me and my girls but like you I spend a lot of time ruminating on whether I am being a good enough mother, it was the inspiration for this piece. xx

  7. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to this moment. My oldest turns 10 this year and just thinking about fast we have got to this point makes me realise how soon it will be when he leaves. Great piece, it really captured that feeling of loss and fear mixed with pride and hope. We all hope we’ve been good enough x #whatimwriting

    1. Oh yes, childhood (from a parent’s perspective) passes so quickly, I know exactly what you mean. I think I am just trying to get each moment to sink in as much as I can, within the constraints of daily life. You have summarised the emotions of my story really well. Thanks for reading. xx

  8. kyra says:

    I can so relate to Rebecca because as parents we always wonder what effects our children s life would have through our parenting. It is a delight to see a happy and positive child.You feel that all of it was finally worth it!!!

    1. Yes I think sometimes we can lose sight of the happy, positive child that should be the result of our parenting when we get bogged down in the everyday routine of parenting. It is good to remind ourselves of that. Thanks for reading.

      1. kyra says:

        Yes…absolutely :))

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