On Being Supermom

I don’t take compliments well.  I recognize this about myself.  I realize when someone says I’m Supermom, they are praising me.  Those words make my skin crawl and send shivers down my spine.  You know how it goes, the innocent, “I don’t know how you do it all.  You are Supermom.”

Let’s break this down.  I don’t do it all.  I work.  I’m a mom.  I can be awesome at both of those things, but rarely at the same time. Sometimes I get a hot, healthy meal on the table for dinner.  There are moments of brilliance.  I also fail on a regular basis.  I don’t clean my house.  I don’t do the laundry or iron anything (Downy wrinkle release seems like a lot of work to me).  I don’t do crafts (Play-doh is as close as I get and it has to be a dire circumstance.)  I’m hardly a mythical figure.  Really, I’m as human as they come — real, tender, flawed, and wildly alive.

Maybe the worst part of being called Supermom is that it conjures images of women who aren’t me.  I see my neighbor who is a stay-at-home mom to four of the happiest children walking the earth. I see the mom who glides into daycare perfectly manicured (aka without a booger on her sleeve) holding home-made cupcakes with professional icing.  I see my friend who besides juggling work, kids, parents, she also is known for her tidy house found in the pages of the Pottery Barn Catalog.  They are perfect.

Part of my physical revolt to the word is that I’m never going to achieve perfection.  Instead of seeing what they see, I focus on my own imperfections.  I will always disappoint, if the bar is a combination of all of them.  I have to tell myself every day (sometimes more than once) that I don’t need to be invincible.  That lusting over perfection draws my attention away from what I truly crave.  It opens me up to earning approval from everybody and distracts me from surprising and delighting those I love.

When I started writing this post it was all about how I was most certainly not Supermom.  It got me to thinking about well-meaning, kind-hearted people who have honestly told me this.  Maybe I am what they think of when they imagine Supermom. ::Gasp:: That’s humbling and harrowing.  What do they see that makes them believe I am so incredible?

We’ve been reading a lot of pseudo superhero-comic books lately.  I’d like to think that after hundreds of times through the easy readers, I’m a bit of an expert on Super-anything.  The thing about the Justice League is that those seven guys and gals all have different super powers.  Even the villains are a cadre of super diverse skills.  So when Superman gets frozen mid-flight by Ultra-Humanite, the Flash steps in to run circles around him until Ultra-Humanite is swept up in a cyclone and sent back to prison.  Being a super hero isn’t about doing it all on your own, but knowing when to call for help and having a bad ass gang to back you up against the challenges life throws you.

Do you think Batman expects webs to fly out of his hands when he is trying to catch a bad guy?  Does Aquaman jump off a skyscraper assuming he should be able to fly too?  Maybe part of their super power is that they have stopped comparing themselves to others, expecting to be someone they aren’t, and focused on improving what they do best.

Next time someone says I’m Supermom, I will smile and have warm feeling thinking of my own Justice League of real life super heroes.  Green Lantern who is only a text away when I need some encouragement.  Mirror Master (the good guy version) who lets me rant and then asks what I’m going to do to change my situation.  Wonder Woman who shows compassion and is with me in my tears.  Phantom Stranger who gives the knowing smile that he has been there too.  Thank you, Justice League, because surrounded by all of you I’m proud to be Supermom and a little less threatened by the weight of my responsibilities.

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