Heidi Klum saves drowning son: Supermodel supermom vs. the good enough mother

Heidi Klum saves drowning son – so go the entertainment headlines today. Hey, normal moms, how are you feeling? Is Heidi Klum setting the parenting bar impossibly high? Don't worry. Being a good mom is good enough. 

Chris Pizzello, Invision/Associated Press
Heidi Klum saves drowning son: The supermodel saved her son from a riptide on vacation in Hawaii and, in doing so, set the bar impossibly high for other parents just trying to be good to their kids. But hey, being good to your kids is good enough. March 2013.

As parents we strive to be great at the job, but seeing a flawless, sun bronzed Heidi Klum wade into the surf in a bikini and save her son, plus two nannies from a riptide would give David Hasselhoff an inferiority complex. How often do we believe we need to be supermodel supermoms and is being a good mother ever good enough?

Heidi Klum and her family were on vacation in Oahu, Hawaii, Sunday when her oldest son Henry, 7, was caught in a dangerous riptide, as were two of his nannies, reports Entertainment Tonight.

The photos are a cross between a dramatic Disney movie moment and a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Vundermom just made lifting a bus off your kid — via hysterical strength (that supposed superhuman strength rush parents get when offspring are in mortal peril) — passé by lifting an ocean off her child.

"We got pulled into the ocean by a big wave. Of course, as a mother, I was very scared for my child and everyone else in the water,” Ms. Klum told ET. “Henry is a strong swimmer and was able to swim back to land. We were able to get everyone out safely."

I love it. It’s the most inspiring story of the day, but then I had a look in the mirror, at the unfolded pile of laundry and the fact that last time I took the kids to the beach I ended up in the hospital after being hit by a longboard.

I was able to find some solace in little paperback I’ve been reading called “Good Enough Mothering,” by Elaine Heffner, a psychotherapist and parent educator in New York City and senior lecturer of education in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her blog is full of answers.

“I see mothers trying to be perfect. ‘Good enough’ doesn’t feel good enough. How did that happen?” Heffner writes. “Perhaps, deep down inside we all wish life could have been perfect for us as children, and so we are too ready to agree with our children that we should be able to make life perfect for them. But we can’t — and that makes us feel guilty.”

I am pretty certain that the day I first became a parent, along with those magical mommy instincts that hit my system like a freight train, came a bigger freight train, loaded with guilt.

“Feeling guilty seems to be a normal condition of motherhood. So let me assure you that feeling guilty does not mean you are guilty,” Heffner writes. “Those feelings do not mean you are not doing a good enough job.”

I wish I could have gotten this woman on the phone because I suspect I could talk to her all day. I know I’m gonna have to sit down and finish her book.

Although, I admit, seeing all the books out there on how to do what’s “right” as a parent can make us feel like the ways to do something “wrong” have us beaten before we start.

I think that Klum and I actually have a lot in common, none of it in the bikini department. We both adore our children and want the best for them. OK, her best is Oahu and mine is the lawn sprinkler, but I would battle the most savage hose leak to save my son.

Being a great parent isn’t about how you look while saving your child, or even your ability to do so, but the fact that you would, without hesitation, do all you were able to make that save. Sometimes our “all” entails watching our child like a hawk and shouting for the Baywatch look-alike to run into the riptide.

I’m fine with that because ultimately parenting is not at all about me, or how I feel about it. Parenting, good parenting, is about raising a child who feels loved, safe, provided for to the best of our ability, and is educated.

A perfect example of a parent with nothing at all tangible to give is the mother of Chess Phenom Phiona Mutesi who is raising her kids in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, with no running water or electricity.

She is an amazing mom because she is doing all she can for her kids. While her daughter walks three miles to school daily with her few books in a blue plastic bag and has missed years of primary school education due to lack of money, this is still a great mom. Why? Because this mom, despite all odds against her, has continued to give her kids hope and spiritual support — and she has fed their ambitions.

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