Julie Bowen
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Staff
About two years ago, when my husband and I had just one son, our toddler, Oliver, we were really on top of the caregiving. I wasn't working much, so I was there for every special moment, and I cooked every meal. When I found out I was having twins, I figured, well, we'll just try harder.

At 20 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound. To my surprise, as I lay there on the table, the technician voiced his strong opinion: I should give my children 75 percent of my time, tops. He said, "If you don't make time for you, they will hate you, and you will resent them." I thought, He doesn't know how strong I am and how much energy I have!

But then John and Gus were born, and I was struck by the reality of two more people needing a slice of the pie. None of my kids would get all of me—and my marriage, my friends, and I were probably going to get zero. If I wanted time for myself, I'd have to make adjustments. I started getting up at 5:30 in the morning to exercise before the children woke. I made peace with serving the occasional completely beige meal of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and fries when that was all I could swing—no fresh pureed baby food today! And I stopped comparing the number of Mommy and Me classes I'd signed up for to the number I'd been to (one).

I was sure I had reined in my expectations—until a few months ago when I took my first on-location project since the twins were born. I'd be gone for three weeks, and when I thought about the boys, I panicked: I'm a terrible mother. John and Gus will forget me. But then I went back to that technician's words, and I realized a few weeks was just a drop in the bucket. I'd come home to my boys feeling good about myself. Why should I beat myself up about that? That was the first time I thought, Maybe I don't have to hit the ball out of the park every day.

There's an expression: Great is the enemy of the good. Sometimes in trying to be great, you make a mess of things. Sure, part of me feels bad when I sashay in at 6 o'clock after work and give the boys a quick kiss before they're off to bed. But another part of me says, You know what? You're here. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

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