Why Mr. Good Enough Is Not Enough

A case for balancing instinct and logic when choosing a partner who will father your children.

I had a baby with the wrong man. It’s as simple as that, and what a terrible mistake it is to have made.

So I warn you, keep your wits about you when considering who will father your children. You need to make a good decision, because you’ll live with it forever.

Years ago as I entered my mid-30s my mother began to talk of Mr Good Enough. The fact that I had not settled into a committed relationship or marriage was assumed to be due to a selection issue on my side. “Are you being too picky?” a colleague inquired when we caught up for lunch.

I never had a list of qualities I desired, no stern non-negotiables were asserted when I began dating someone. I wasn’t seeking wealth or a way of life. I could provide that for myself.

I was after something else. I wanted that feeling, that definitive moment when I just knew the person was the one for me.

As more friends got married and settled into long-term relationships, when even my non-maternal friends, the ones who had never shown interest in children, began to have their own, and when I felt uncomfortable at work functions to state that I was still single, it dawned on me that I may have had it all wrong.

The reality was that I wasn’t living the life I imagined for myself, I thought I would be married with kids by now and instead I was having to come to terms with the possibility that it may never happen.

Suddenly I wondered, should I actually have been making the decision of a partner using my logic? What were my non-negotiables?

By all reports my instinct was failing me. After a series of relationships with great chemistry but not commitment, shared interests but not values, I decided a different approach was needed.

At the encouragement of a friend, I sat down and listed the five values I was looking for in a partner. They were to become my non-negotiables.

That was all OK, but values and checklists are no good without your instinct. I warn you: You need both.

A man walked into my life just as the ink dried on my values and principles list. Tick, tick, tick, tick, and tick—I declared him a match. A PLU (person like us) my mother’s best friend exclaimed. “He’s the one!” declared the wild Irish aunt of a school friend. And he was named after an archangel—perhaps God was on my side.

We had a myriad of connections from school to family and work. By logic it was a fit. However, he harbored a secret, and my suppressed instinct, my desire to just get on with it and settle into a good relationship, meant I didn’t investigate.

But he had an addiction, and when our baby was still young, his life and then ours would fall apart.

I wonder if this would have happened when I was younger? Would I have asked more questions? Not afraid of what there was to lose. Would I have been less concerned or unaware of what being suspicious can look like in a relationship, namely insecure?

Would I have insisted we discuss the details of past breakups rather than not let “those people become characters in our lives” as he suggested? Would I have asked exactly where he was when he was out rather than giving him the freedom and privacy I thought appropriate for people who’d had independent lives, assuming I’d meet everyone in his life in time? Would I have snooped around his stuff as young girls often do and found evidence rather than thinking I was above all that?

Crucially, would my younger self have confronted the thoughts that something might not have been quite right rather than thinking no one was going to be exactly right?

I think so, but with my own determination and the collective encouragement of women, from my friends to seasoned grandmothers, who like me wished for me to experience motherhood, my instinct let me down.

Blessed with a baby, yes, but not with the father to help raise her or the partner to support me. I’ll wish for my daughter to be a mother, if that’s what she wants, for it is truly the most joyous experience of my life. But most of all I will wish for her to balance her logic and her instinct if she decides to become a parent with a male partner, because, take it from me, Mr. Good Enough is just not enough.

Mavis is a Sydney based writer that unexpectedly found herself raising her daughter as a single mother. She has two degrees, a professional career and is living proof that it takes a village to raise a child.

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