Hi and welcome to The Good Enough Mother blog. My name is Sophie and I am a single mother to my 2 year old daughter.
I consider myself first and foremost a woman – one who occupies various roles in my life which include that of mother, daughter, friend, researcher, worker, and on I could go! I recognise the ways our lives, particularly as women and Mums, are so often divided into different seasons. We find diverse ways and paths to live out and explore different versions of our ‘selves’.
The ways our lives are divided into different seasons shift and change, and some stages of life require the intensification of certain roles.
Of course for women who are mothers, an example of this intensification is the newborn period and early stages of infancy (and often more broadly, the first 2 years of life and beyond this to the first 5). The language of seasons as part of our experience extends beyond our role as mothers. There are just some phases of life that are more intense!
- Juggling studying and working full time?
- Looking after ageing parents?
- Dealing with the diagnosis of an illness or a disability in yourself or a loved one?
- Stressed about how you’re going to keep a roof over your head and food on the table?
- Navigating the terrains of mental illness?
Varying levels of struggle reflect varying levels of privilege, circumstance, luck, education, and social location. So often where we find ourselves in terms of ‘struggle’ is all relative.
But… sometimes the old adage of ‘there’s always someone worse off’ doesn’t necessarily see you practicing gratitude. Instead, it leaves you feeling unheard and invalidated.
There is no limit to the extent or depth of compassion we can offer each other
Regardless of where we find ourselves right now, it is extremely likely that ALL of us are going to face at least some – if not many – of the challenging circumstances and situations that I listed above. Recognising this and acknowledging the often-shared nature of human experience invites not only connection with each other, but empathy for others. Wanting to learn more about how we can help others ultimately also helps us.
The Good Enough Mother blog is a space to record, reflect, and reminisce.
I use the act of writing to both work through, reflect on, and create meaning.
I link lived experience with research and academic scholarship on motherhood, relationships, identity and loss.
I use my professional and personal experiences to delve into honest and intimate story-sharing, and analyse our social world in a way that offers others tools and examples of how they may navigate the shared challenges that so many of us face.
I write The Good Enough Mother blog posts not with a tone of authority, but with an invitation to open your mind and heart and see what you may discover about yourself and others.
There are three dominant threads that will be woven throughout The Good Enough Mother blog. These are:
1. Life as a Mother
In particular, as a single mother who has experienced deep betrayal and the abrupt end of my marriage at the birth of my daughter. Today, years later, I find myself in a very different place to these early days of motherhood and divorce.
Listen in to episode 1 of The Good Mother podcast for more insight, but I can only describe this transformative period as having my heart broken and filled at the same time, and leaving me with life-long lessons. I want to share these lessons in the hope that they will be of value to others who are forging their own paths peppered by pain and challenge, wanting to cultivate resilience and strength.
2. Research relating to womEN’S LIVES
My background and my first passion is in academia, examining women’s lives from a maternal sociological perspective. I have a passionate interest in talking about and examining motherhood in our society today, women’s experiences as mothers, how we as women navigate our relationships with others, and how we build a sense of self and identity. All of these areas are intertwined of course.
I believe there is an inextricable link between our research interests as academics, and our lived experience as individuals within a community. I know that my life experience informs my research. I know that my research has informed the way I live my life. What I want to do is extend this knowledge into the broader community in order to help give people some of the tools and information that we as researchers and/or educators are privileged enough to have acquired.
In saying this, part of my work is recognising the construction and co-creation of our realities. That is to say – we work together. We learn together and from each other. We have to be sensitive to power hierarchies but acknowledge that each individual brings their own unique knowledge acquired from THEIR life experience that is valuable, interesting, and worthy of recognition.
3. Grief, loss, and disability
I had both a really ‘ordinary’ but ‘extraordinary’ childhood, living with my Mum, Dad, and younger sister in the suburbs of Sydney. We’re middle class, white, and therefore I had a pretty privileged upbringing. My parents both have PhDs and worked in the field of English Education. My Dad also had Motor Neurone Disease – diagnosed when I was just 5 years old and my sister was 1, and he was given 3-5 years to live.
Motor Neurone Disease is a terminal, degenerative, and incurable disease. Basically, the neurons that travel from your brain to the different muscles in your body die. Your mind is completely unaffected and remains as normal, but your body slowly shuts down. It’s like you become slowly trapped within your body. Search ‘MND’ or ‘ALS’ if you want more information – but I’m sure you get the picture that it is an horrendous disease.
My Dad was an absolutely phenomenal, power-house of a human being. Google ‘Dr Paul Brock AM’ and his book ‘A Passion for Life’ if you are curious for more information on him. My Dad and our family’s story will be threaded throughout these entries.
There are things that my Dad did and ways that he lived that we know enabled him to live a full, happy, meaningful, incredible life despite MND. As a family we travelled the world many times together and Dad worked full time up until his death. This was all while being confined to a wheelchair, where the disease left him only able to speak and have slight movement in one of his fingers. He battled the disease, fighting it for 20 years. He died the 25th March, 2016 – changing the course of our lives forever.
I’ll be delving into these topics in The Good Enough Mother blog, reflecting on life as a woman in the world today. There are many aspects of these topics of motherhood, work, relationships, loss and grief, that we share in common.
Recognising our similarities invites a sense of solidarity, connection, and community. We can feel this sense of connection in what is shared, while also acknowledging that these aspects of our lives are highly personal and individualised. It is through understanding and exploring this diversity that we are able to learn more about each other, ourselves, and the world around us.