The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.

Practice makes perfect. If you’re not first, you’re last. Only the best is good enough. We all face a lot of pressure. In school, we endure the pressure of exams and group presentations. In our personal lives, we feel the pressure to find “the one.” In work, we are pressured to perform better and make more. But if there’s one area in our lives where we perhaps face the greatest pressure, it is in our role as parents. We want to be the perfect mom or the perfect dad, because we want to do right by our children.

Except that is fundamentally impossible, since there is no such thing as the perfect parent.

It was just this past Friday that I wrote about questioning my ability as a father, asking whether I was a “bad dad” for indulging my daughter in a little too much screen time and fast food. When she was still a little baby, we questioned whether letting her sleep in our bed was a good idea. We questioned whether it was bad for us to put stuffed animals and blankets in her crib. We questioned everything.

The truth is we were probably overthinking it. Yes, we all want what is best for our kids, but the definition of “best” is going to vary widely depending on who you ask and under what circumstances. If your heart is in the right place and you base your decisions on good information, you’re probably doing just fine. This is true with parenting, just as much as it is true with other areas in our lives.

Jill Churchill is an American author, perhaps best known for penning the Jane Jeffry Mysteries series. Many of the titles to these books are a play on words, like Grime and Punishment and Mulch Ado About Nothing. I particularly like From Here to Paternity, given the context of the quote above and the topic of today’s discussion.

I think it’s fair to say that we should all strive to be better people tomorrow than we were yesterday. We shouldn’t ever settle, per se, because there is always room for improvement. At the same time, we have to remember to cut ourselves a little slack when we do come up short. Perfection is an impossible standard to attain, because it simply does not exist.

As Jill Churchill reminds us above, what it means to be a “good” mom or a “good” dad can take on a million different forms. You can’t fault the parent who wants to protect the kid from harm, just as you can’t fault the parent for raising a wild child either. They’re both doing good. And sometimes good is just good enough.