Has anyone told you lately that you’re a Supermom?
Did you stand up a little taller, own up the compliment, and say “Thank you, I know.”?
Or did it make you feel uncomfortable, because you couldn’t accept the compliment, or like you’re failing, because you’re so far from being a Supermom, and don’t really see that you’ll ever get there?
Becoming a mom changes your world in thousands of ways. Growing a cape of magical superpowers is not one of them. If we’re real about it, we didn’t even get an instruction manual!
People sometimes call me a Supermom, use the #Supermom hashtag in their comments, or introduce me as a Supermom to others. At first, I didn’t know whether I would cry or laugh about it.
I am NOT a Supermom and I’m definitely not trying to be one or look like I am one. There’s no such thing as a Supermom. Supermom is a myth… a lie. And a costly one.
I’m encouraging you to stop trying to be a Supermom, because it is a recipe for chaos, overwhelm, and disaster. In my experience coaching and mentoring moms around the world in both private and workshop settings, I have worked with many moms who pursue the illusion of being a Supermom, only to end up not only disappointed, but literally sick, frustrated, and miserable.
Trying to be a Supermom will only create guilt, shame, and regret in your life, because you’ll need energy, time, and resources you don’t have to even pull off looking like you’re even a bit like her.
And if you get really caught up in being this mythical creature, you will neglect your most treasured relationships, become financially irresponsible, and shoot up your blood pressure, just to name a few side effects of the Supermom syndrome. Breaking news: many of the so-called Supermoms you “know” are sick, broke, and broken, or are well on their way to get there.
And that’s sad. Because they’re paying a high price for something they will never get. I can relate to that. I pursued being Wonder Woman to prove that I had worth, that I was worthy, that what “they” said about me was not true, that I could be “successful.”
It’s all a trap, because being perceived as a Supermom will not make you happy as a woman and will not make you successful as a mom. In fact, here’s the honest truth:
Your child does NOT want a Supermom.
In my research, I’ve found that children want different things in their mom, but being a Supermom isn’t one. I’ll share my daughters’ responses to what they would tell their friends is “awesome” about their mom (because at 13 and 14, having an “awesome mom” is what it is all about LOL):
- My mom is understanding and supports me in things she has no interest in
- My mom praises me, listen to me, and validates my opinions
- My mom is never too tired or busy to spend time with me
- My mom is blunt, authentic, and answers my questions truthfully
- My mom believes in me and teaches me to stand up for what we believe in
- My mom is fun. She makes me laugh and tells me stories about when she was little
- My mom gives me hugs and kisses and says she loves me
- My mom involves me in cooking healthy meals, and asks me what I want to eat
- My mom prepares me for the future and gives me unsolicited advice
- My mom lets me have time to play and be creative
- My mom is easy going and respectful
- My mom admits when she makes a mistake and tells me of mistakes she has made in the past
- My mom watches movies with me no matter if it’s late (and falls asleep)
- My mom disciplines me. Without her guidance we would be completely lost. Doing what I want to do all the time is boring, and her discipline gives us purpose.
I was taking notes and thinking to myself this is what they will be telling my grandkids about me. This is what will shape what kind of moms they will be. These are all things you and I can do – and constantly do without giving it much thought. What I do each moment I am raising these girls determines what legacy I am building and I want mine to be one of empowerment, love, and faith.
Dr. Stephan Poulter, family therapist and clinical psychologist, defines the typical “perfectionistic mom” as an over-controlling, fearful and anxious woman for whom appearance is everything, and warns:
“Her children tend to be hypercritical of themselves, feeling inadequate and emotionally empty.”
This hits home. I had a perceived Supermom: she was a single mom juggling a full time job, going to school, and the demands of raising three kids. Though we were poor, our home was as immaculate as it could be, all meals were homemade, and clothes were cleaned and ironed to perfection. My siblings and I were highly praised for our manners, our values, and our academic achievements.
Though I’m grateful for all of that, what I really really really wanted was a happy, loving, supportive mom, and my Supermom was lonely, overworked, and angry.
Children want an intentional mom, an engaged mom, a connected mom, a playful mom, a conscious mom, a present mom, a mom who teaches, guides them, and leads them to safety. And you can be the mom you want your kids to remember, and you get to decide what memories you make.
In my research, I’ve also learned that men find it hard, annoying, and painful, to watch the mother of their children try to play Supermom. While they express pride in her achievements, they wish she would take a step back, relax, and be less hard on themselves.
When we try to be a Supermom, we hurt ourselves and the ones we love. Supermom doesn’t exist. Not on your block, not on your PTA, not on the tabloids. Time to quote a celebrity mom:
“There’s no such thing as the supermom who does it all and it’s all perfect. You only have 100% to give, and you can’t give 100% to both your work and your children. So you have to make choices that feel right for you and your family, and no one can tell you that but yourself.” ~ Mira Sorvino
Supermom is a figment of someone’s imagination. And we become irrational, obsessive, and addicted, trying to emulate this fictional character, enslaved by the pressure it takes to strive for an ideal that won’t ever become a reality for a human mom.
And human is what you are – that’s what I am. I don’t feel guilty about not being a Supermom.
Am I doing enough?
Am I doing it right?
Do I look good doing it?
I’ve also stepped in to share my struggles, and my story, and to be real about my motherhood experience, because no one can connect with Supermom; we’re intimidated of her and desperately try to be like her or “deserving” of that label!
Now when a mom says to me:
“I don’t know how you do it! You’re a #Supermom!”
I silently thank God for His grace, and simply answer with my truth, with the truth that connects us:
“Thank you, I’m doing the best I can.”
We’re human moms doing the best we can. And that’s EXACTLY the mom our kids need. We’re ordinary moms who can love in extraordinary ways, gifted in some ways, flawed in some others, living moments of joy, and moments of pain – learning each day, setting healthy expectations for them.
We will not be Supermoms, no matter how much we try to be, because none of us can do it all at the same time. And that’s beautiful, because we have each other!
Acknowledging that I am not Supermom material doesn’t mean I am discounting my God-given gifts or giving up the pursue of my individual interests, dreams, and passions. I love Arianna Huffinton’s wise words on this subject:
“We have to learn how to ‘lean in’ (overcoming our own fears, taking a stand and putting ourselves forward) but at the same time we have to learn how to ‘lean back’ (unplug, re-charge and return to our jobs, careers and our family renewed).”
I can do what works for me. I can say NO. I don’t have to be everything for all people. I can be regular, average, and ordinary at times, and remarkable, daring, and even legendary, at others. I can gloriously succeed in one area and fall flat on my face in others. I can be all in, all out, or “almost there.” And so can you!
Have you given up on being Supermom? Share how you let go of the burdensome cape of the Supermom Syndrome, and give yourself permission to let go of unrealistic expectations, allow yourself to receive help, and prioritize taking care of yourself.