Do you lose sleep thinking about how much more you could be doing for your kids?
Do you beat yourself up when you read another mom’s Facebook post about the awesome dinner she made for her family after a long day of work and going to the gym?
Do you worry that your inadequacies are going to ruin your kids?
Well, you need to STOP.
When I was pregnant, I was determined to be the absolute best mom possible. I imagined that I’d gracefully balance work, chores, making/eating healthy meals, maintaining relationships with my husband, friends, and family, taking care of the kiddo, finding time to exercise/meditate/pursue my passion, and all the while going to bed at a normal time. Yeah, I wanted to be one of those Super Moms.
“My mom did it. Why can’t I?”
My mom is my biggest inspiration and in my eyes a true Super Mom. She was our family’s breadwinner – working full-time, oftentimes leaving at 6:00 in the morning to work an overtime shift at the factory. Then she’d come home, cook dinner in half an hour (who does that?!) and then bathe my brother and me before we went to bed. She never raised her voice at us, never let the stress and struggles she felt affect how she treated us and was able to raise two (may I say?) well-adjusted adults in a country she entered just shortly before I was born. To this day, she still amazes me. She can cook the most moist, delicious Thanksgiving turkey in under 2 hours and the rest of the holiday meal for 20 people in just about the same amount of time without breaking a sweat. She made motherhood look effortless.
But you and I know that is definitely not true.
For the past year, I tried to be like my mom and do it all. But I’m calling it quits.
I. am. D.O.N.E.
Naively, I saw Super Moms as modern day superheroes donning burp cloths instead of capes, chasing away boogie monsters instead of villains, and putting out tantrums instead of fires.
What I found is being a Super Mom is a lot like being a Superhero – it is unrelenting, unhealthy, and above all, unsatisfying.
The crimes don’t stop
The work of a Superhero never ends. While a superhero cartoon or movie ends peacefully with the main character reflecting on how good triumphs over evil, the hero has to get up the next morning and does it all over again. After one criminal is taken down, another appears. It is an unrelenting, continuous cycle of battling criminals.
Like superheroes, 21st century mothers face a constant barrage of challenges.
Externally, we are plagued with conflicting child-rearing philosophies, mommy wars, and the lack of a supportive local community.
Physically, our bodies are no longer our own. It feels like we run on autopilot. We wake up, prepare lunches, try to fit in a shower, go to work, pick up our children, get them to bed, cook dinner and ideally, do some chores before going to bed ourselves. Then we wake up, rinse and repeat.
Mentally, we face many new emotions and doubts. As a mom, I know that my mood has swung, self-confidence dipped, sense of purpose questioned, and self-identity has gone in limbo.
Continuing to try to balance all of these challenges while taking care of the daily work, chores and errands is as possible as it is for us to fly and shoot laser beams out of our eyeballs.
The challenges never end just as the enemies keep coming. The only way to cope is to take a break, because unlike superheroes our world will not end if we don’t bathe our child before bed or if we turn down a play date invitation.
Eating a healthy meal is a battle
I’ve never seen a superhero sit down to a decent meal, but if they did, I’m sure it would be interrupted by an emergency.
Superheroes are so preoccupied and consumed with helping others, they don’t have the time to take care of themselves. The cartoons hardly show them being sick but when you constantly live in a state of fight or flight and prioritize other’s needs before your own, I imagine you’d get sick often.
Due to stress, sleep deprivation, and not to mention, exposure to daycare germs, I’ve been sick more times in the past year as a mom than I have been in the last five years. Sickness is a sign that I have taken on too much and need to reevaluate and reprioritize what I am doing.
Getting the stomach virus over the winter and being forced to take a sick day was the final straw. I realized that in pursuing Super Mom-dom, I have placed my health on the back burner.
It’s a tired analogy but as moms, we have to put our oxygen masks on first. This means putting our physical and emotional health before our family’s.
Saving the world doesn’t make you happy
Despite the cool powers and killer outfits, I’ve always felt kind of bad for superheroes. They live under an extreme amount of pressure – feeling a perpetual obligation to use their powers for good while constantly feeling like an outsider in the world they are trying to save.
Because of that burden, they don’t have the time or the abilities to maintain a social life and develop true romantic relationships and friendships – the things that make life worth living.
If we as moms were to allow our burdens to overtake us, life would be extremely unsatisfying. Fortunately, we have control over what we do and don’t do. While everything seems to be a fire drill, your to-do list will still be there if you choose to hold off on it until tomorrow. It’s not worth sacrificing your (or your family’s) happiness to check off all the boxes.
While you want to be able to do things for your family, you also want to be there for them. Adequately balancing doing vs. being is where the line between satisfaction and dissatisfaction lies. Being there for my family can only be achieved by doing less for them.
Doing less really enables us to smell the roses. As a Super Mom, I’d miss out on those fleeting moments because I chose to fold the laundry instead of play with my daughter. Everyday’s a day we’ll never get back, memories missed.
Good enough is actually Super
I always thought that I was cheating my daughter if I was not a Super Mom. Oh, how false and limiting that belief was! I’ve begun to realize that I don’t have to be, do and provide everything for my family. Being a good mom is good enough.
While my mom really did not and could not provide me with everything, she was an amazing mother, and I wouldn’t trade any part of my childhood for a house with a white picket fence and two car garage. She did the best she could with the knowledge and resources she had. You can probably say the same about your mom.
Every child automatically thinks their mom is a Super Mom. Like I thought with my mother, I know my daughter will think I am pretty super as long as I do my best. Ultimately, our children deserve “good enough” role models who show them that we don’t have to overschedule, work to the bone, and sacrifice our health to be the best version of ourselves. The rest of the world will be hammering those ideas into them soon enough.
Being a mom means being present and making memories. It means giving yourself permission to take a break once in a while and take care of your own needs so you can better be there for your family. And by doing so, you’ll truly be a Super Mom.
Are you guilty of pursuing false Super Mom-hood? Want to join me in throwing in the towel? Share your story in the comments below and join our amazing Facebook group at The Super Mom Village.