Friday, December 20, 2013

Who Invited Supermom?

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.” – Alice Walker

There’s a lot of mom-bombing that goes on these days. The moms who stay at home get their feathers ruffled when their work at home is trivialized. The work-outside-of-the-home moms feel slighted when they feel they don’t get enough credit for raising a family and holding down a job. Who made this a contest? Is there someone to blame for this sniping? Damn right there is.


That bitch.

Supermom does it all, of course:
  • She packs healthy lunches.
  • She cooks perfect, healthy, delicious, organic dinners.
  • She always has her hair and nails done
  • She wears clothing made of organic fibers
  • Her gemstones are conflict-free (certified, natch)
  • Her children have the best manners and never have meltdowns in public.
  • She is the homeroom mom at her kids’ school.
  • She is PTA president.
  • She throws perfect parties.
  • …aaaaaand she also works outside the home.

Shall we compare this to my list?
  • My kids get PB&J or a lunchable. Sometimes they buy their lunch.
  • I cook…ish
  • My hair and nails are usually clean.
  • My clothes are wash and wear.
  • Gemstones?
  • My children have good manners, when they remember to use them. Meltdowns? Yeah, they happen.
  • Homeroom mom…hahahahaha….that’s a good one.
  • I am a PTA member only because if everyone in my daughter’s class joined, then the class got an ice cream party.
  • I don’t throw parties.
  • …aaaaaand I work outside the home.

Clearly, we’re a little different.

Supermom is a reminder of how mediocre I am. If there were a coffee mug out there that said “World’s Okayest Mom”, well, that’s the one that I would deserve. My kids don’t need an Etch-A-Sketch. They have the dust that patiently coats the surface of the furniture in my home. Of course, once they’ve made their pretty pictures in the dust, what kind of hard-hearted Hannah would I be if I wiped them off? So you see why dusting is out. I have to preserve my children’s artwork.

I do like to cook, but I’ll be honest. There are many days when after teaching all day, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner. Sometimes I’ll cook a bunch of food on Sunday and we’ll eat it through the week. Frozen pizza comes in handy. So does mac & cheese. And sometimes when we’re all tired we just have a bowl of cereal. Does that qualify me for the mom Hall of Shame? I hope not, but Supermom would be appalled.

I have raised my children to know that I am not their source of entertainment. I play with them, of course. We play games sometimes, or read together, but I taught my children from a young age how to entertain themselves. They don’t constantly hang on me whining, “M-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m, play with me!” And, surprisingly to a lot of people, over summer vacations and holiday breaks, I don’t hear an excessive amount of “I’m bored”. Sure, Supermom would be there to lead them in some sort of arts-and-craft ready to go, complete with glitter glue and pipe cleaners, but my kids can do that themselves, and frankly it’s not my strength. We can have quality time together, not quantity.

Am I a bad mom for not wanting to spend every single minute with my children?

Sometimes I need a time out of my own. I know, know, Supermom never needs one. She’s perfect, after all. But despite the fact that I love my children more than I thought I could ever love anything in the world, and despite the fact that I would give my life for either one of them, I still crave time to myself. So when I feel that pull, when my temper is getting short and my responses are getting snappish, I just tell them that I need a time out. They know that concept. After all, they’ve been having time-outs since they were old enough to understand what “time out” meant. I explain that my attitude needs adjusting and I put myself in my room.

I know this is even harder for those moms who stay at home. I have intentionally avoided the phrase “don’t work” because if you have kids, you work. It gets wearisome after a time. And it doesn’t mean you don’t want your kids, or that you don’t love your kids, of course. It’s just mentally and physically exhausting. It’s work. And it’s work without a paycheck. Supermom never prepared us for that.

Being mentally sharp constantly wears you down faster than anything else. Whether you are at work or at home with the kids, you have to be on the ball. Let yourself zone out at work? Suddenly that project you were working on doesn’t get finished by the deadline and your job is on the line. Let yourself zone out at home taking care of the kids? Suddenly you’re on your way to the ER because little Timmy thought the hot glue gun was an ear thermometer. They both come with responsibilities. Both kinds of moms are a big, big deal. Both deserve to be celebrated. Neither deserve to be maligned or diminished. I’m looking at you, Supermom.

Supermom, if I may speak to you directly for a moment, you are no longer my mom idol. It’s time for you to pack up your DIYs and your homemades and hit the skids, sister. You spend too much time on shine and polish and not enough time on the therapy you obviously need. It’s time for the Stay at Home Moms and the 9-5 Moms to stand together, without your spectre of unattainable perfection holding us apart. We don’t mind a little grit. We don’t mind mixing our great-grandmother’s beef wellington from-scratch recipe with a bag of microwavable veggies, or that we use paper plates because we didn’t have time to wash the real ones. Our houses may be messy, but our kids are happy. And do you know what, Supermom? I’m okay with that.

After all, I am the world’s okayest mom.

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