This is for all the moms who have felt some sort of outside pressure, real or perceived, to be perfect or super. You are all phenomenal. I would characterize my mother as a Supermom, and I want to be a hero to my kids like my mom was to me. But what defines a Supermom? It isn’t exactly what we may see around us.
The Definition of a Supermom
There are many different types of moms. From the organized and scheduled mom to the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mom, I believe that mothers try their best each day and frequently go above and beyond like a superhero. Merriam-Webster defines a supermom as an exemplary mother. However, there is also an additional definition that states:
Also: a woman who performs the traditional duties of housekeeping and child-rearing while also having a full-time job.
We have made leaps and bounds of progress in removing judgment from being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom and everything in between. This outdated definition ignores the efforts of millions of mothers that do not meet this very specific characterization. Having a deep and foundational trust in yourself that you are doing the best you can for your family is fundamental to your own personal motherly success. Do what you need to do to take care of you and yours and don’t worry about fitting under this definition or anyone else’s definition of a supermom.
Supermoms: Not Just the Good, But The Bad, and The Ugly Too
Scrolling through social media, people often show their best selves. Posts of smiling mothers on beachy vacations and cheerful holiday family photos fill various social media feeds. These images show moms that are happy and doing it all! I understand that people want to see the smiling and organized woman who appears to have conquered motherhood and is thriving from feelings of euphoria and endorphins from her achievement. I believe that many women may feel like that at the end of the day. However, with all the success, they can also feel weary, lonely, exhausted, depressed, run-down, and unappreciated.
What is missing from most social media posts are pictures showing sadness, discontent, frustration, and even anger. As most moms know, going on family vacations and preparing for the holiday season are a lot of work! Yet here I am smiling ear to ear only showing the win. Hardly anyone posts about the near impossible task of dragging three kids out of bed to catch a 6 am flight for the family vacation. I rarely have seen a picture of the living room floor covered with Christmas decorations before the house is transformed into a winter wonderland.
Achievement messages and images can be inspirational. But seeing other mothers go through my same struggles lets me know that I am not alone. It is easy to share success but sharing our failures allows us to be vulnerable and like most superheroes, requires courage, bravery, and honesty.
Supermoms Make It Look Easy
Advertising and media are also responsible for the illusion of perfection that we feel we must achieve to be a Supermom. There is a commercial for a university that begins with a mother quietly baking a cake and wrapping presents for her son’s birthday in the wee hours of the morning after working a night shift. The mother is portrayed as a do-it-all kind of woman who works, takes care of her family, pays the bills, and can be a student as well, if she chooses. It’s encouraging to portray a mother as motivated and hard-working. However, the mother in the commercial makes it look easy. The mother is smiling in every scene. She smiles as she comes home from her night shift to find her entryway strewn with toys that she must carefully tiptoe around like she was navigating through a minefield. She smiles as she bakes the cake, wraps the presents, and pays the bills. That’s because it’s easy. Right? Wrong.
Mothers always make things look easy. It is one of our superpowers, but it can also be a detriment. Mothers must be strong and show their family strength and grace under pressure. We do such a great job at it that it promotes the notion that moms can take on additional responsibilities, easily. I want to emphasize that I support empowering mothers to be all that they want to be. It also must be known that even with our superpowers, we are not invincible. We fear, sacrifice, and worry, all the while plowing forward. Even Superman has his kryptonite.
Moms and Superheroes: Irreplaceable
Like most superheroes, being a mother is a job that requires an elevated level of physical, mental, and emotional effort 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is also a job that you can never ever leave. “Oh, it’s just a job. I can always go out and get another one.” or “They can hire another accountant.” These options do not apply to motherhood because everyone only has one mom. With great power comes great responsibility. There are so many expectations that come with the mom job and most people have no idea what it takes to do the bare minimum.
Growing up, I have memories of my mother working, taking care of me and my brothers and sisters (there were 6 of us), and studying at night. She made it look effortless and she was my hero. I also remember growing up in a very disorganized and unkept house and eating frozen TV dinners. My mom was super, but she was human too. The message that is sent out today portrays moms as superheroes, with an unlimited supply of energy and joy. I believe that we need feel-good stories and inspiration but we don’t need unrealistic perfect lives to be a Supermom. So post the pictures of your messy houses and imperfect lives because in truth and reality, by acknowledging our vulnerabilities and sharing our common fears, worries, and rants, we can all be courageous Supermoms.