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Confessions of a (Not So) Supermom

When you’re at the park pushing a swing, shopping for diapers at Target, or simply walking down the street with baby in tow, do you ever find yourself staring at one of those mothers and wonder what you’re missing? C’mon, you know what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the Supermom.  She runs 10 miles, does downward dog, and answers 50 e-mails before the sun and Little Johnny rise.  She has perfectly coiffed hair, a body that rivals Heidi Klum, and doesn’t need botulism Botox to look beautiful. She’s CEO of everything, only prepares scrumptious organic meals, and has children that emit sunshine. Okay, so I exaggerate. The woman isn’t that perfect, but she sure seems to epitomize this otherworldly, unattainable ideal of motherhood. And alas, I still find myself staring at this mythical heroine through the shield of my aviator sunglasses wondering how she balances it all (or at least fakes it to make it).

While I never expected to be like June Cleaver, I did imagine that I’d glide through motherhood like Claire Huxtable: smart, witty, rational mommy lawyer bringing home the bacon and managing family life with style and grace.  Of course it was possible to be this version of a Supermom, especially because I’d previously kicked the butt of all multitasking villains and earned my cape as Superwoman sans baby. I worked in a high-powered career, shopped at the farmers’ market for dinner, squeezed in yoga and friends, remodeled my bathroom, made cupcakes, and still had time for an episode of True Blood all before going to bed. Jeez, how hard could it be?

Daydream music comes to a screeching halt. Bubble bursts. Cue reality.

At the end of my real life episode as a work-at-home mom, I seriously feel and look more like Miranda Hobbes than Charlotte York. I am tired, slightly overworked, struggling with what we all struggle with—balance, imperfectly dressed, ready to collapse on the couch and enjoy Thai takeout, happy to be home, and struck by the daily realization that I didn’t get anything done. You raise your eyebrow and ask, “How can you feel all of the above if you didn’t get anything done? What the hell did you do all day?”  I know, I know. It sounds crazy. But I can tell you that I am not the only new mom afflicted by this phenomenon, where one who used to be a multitasking maven now can barely manage to check off a few items if any from her “to do” list.

My dear friend and I recently commiserated about this very issue. She, like me, reaches the end of her active day as a mom feeling exhausted, as if she tackled a week’s worth of errands and chores but in reality only made it to the Post Office.  Maybe we were naïve to think that we’d emerge from the new parent sleep-deprived daze capable and ready to do it all, but we never thought in a million years that it would be so challenging to muster the energy to balance mommyhood with all the “other stuff,” especially when we were no longer beholden to the law firm.  As we confessed that our type-A personalities were having some difficulty coming to terms with the baby toys littering the living room floor, the dishes left undone, the pile of laundry reaching Everest-sized proportions, and our inability to make real meals unless you count Luna Bars, we also shared the secret that it was positively freeing not to be burdened with multitasking and the self-imposed pressure to be “productive.”

After we ended our Skype chat, I kept thinking about how good it felt to openly reveal that we are happier individuals/women/mothers/wives/friends/you name it when everything isn’t perfect. So, I’ll also confess to you why I’m a (not so) Supermom:

  • I hate that my son wakes up at 5:30 AM because I am not ready to play before the sun rises, so I bring him to bed with me in an attempt to lure him back to sleep for a just a little while longer. I pretend to keep sleeping even when he crawls on my head.

  • I wash my hair every other day, never blow dry it, and always wear it in a French twist, ponytail, or braid. Personal grooming takes too much energy.

  • I look like the living corpse of Sarah because I never have time to put on concealer or any other makeup for that matter. Again, see bullet point above.

  • I pretend to look pulled together by accessorizing my outfits with a brightly patterned scarf and flashy stud earrings. Hopefully, no one will notice that I’ve worn the same pair of jeans three days in a row.

  • I feed my son frozen waffles, instant oatmeal, and vegetable puffs on an almost daily basis because they’re quick and easy. Hey, at least they’re organic.

  • I gave up cleaning the kitchen floor after every meal and ignore the food crumbs and sticky tile until it becomes too unsightly. Mothers must've coined the phrase, "don't cry over spilled milk."

  • I have stopped apologizing for the water-stained quartz countertops, dishes in the sink, mail on the dining table, and shoes collecting by our door.  Because I’m not a candidate for the television shows about hoarders, I’ve stopped worrying about my mess.

  • I buy cookies and cupcakes at the bakery, and I rely on Trader Joe’s to get me through a dinner party.  Yes, it’s true, I used the store’s delicious flash frozen mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. Martha would not approve.

  • Sixteen months later and I have not lost all the baby weight. Instead, I wear a lot of black or use Spanx.

  • Once my son goes to bed, I watch Glee and fantasize about being a pop star instead of attending to my “to do” list. A girl's gotta dream, right?

The list definitely goes on.

And while there is still a small part of me that occasionally aspires to be Supermom, I feel relieved that I can hang up my cape along with my star-studded hot pants and high heels and don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not (I certainly don’t want to fake it to make it).  So, productivity be damned! Everything is perfect whether or not I clean the kitchen because I am free — I am free to live in the moment, free to focus my energy on what matters and spend my time with my son, and free to just be.

Thanks E for reminding me of this.

~ The Other Sarah

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Reader Comments (170)

Love this! I feel the same way.

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTL

I'm not supposed to wear my jeans three days in a row? Uh oh.

And we won't even TALK about my kitchen floor. ;)

-Sarah Stewart Holland

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

Wonderfully put... I am a mother of 2 boys, 6 & 8. I used to have it all together. Now, I'd loose my head if it wasn't attached somedays. Between rushing around the house in the mornings to get them to school on time, managing my husband's office, making a sad attempt of being a good house-keeper and figuring out what we are going to have for dinner (which is usually take-out or running through the drive thru), oh an getting my boys to their ball practices and games... it is hard to find time to just be me. Then I realize... this is me and I wouldn't change a thing. I am no superwoman/mom, and I am okay with that. Although somedays it sure would be nice to super powers!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

Oh my gosh, this made me cry, cry, cry, because I AM LIVING THIS! Thank you for saying it! I feel that being a Mom is the most demanding, taxing, and rewarding job on earth because you are ALL IN, ALL THE TIME! There is NO break (not even when a babysitter enters the picture, your child is still on your mind) and NO room for failure (although you might feel like one when you are late for school, your 4-year-old spills non-washable paint all over his clothes, couch, and area rug, and your newborn has a massive explosion in his pants, up the back, all while the Pop-tart is burning in the toaster...did I brush my teeth this morning?!!) AHHH, I feel better now!!

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

you failed to mention that you are also PREGNANT, which is another full-time job that your body keeps doing, even in those rare moments when you are sitting still. listen to nature as it affirms your slowing down because--ima just be honest--when you have 2 babies, you will feel doubly this way. and some days you will swear they are trying to kill you (i really think mine communicate in some secret language and decide "OK, i'll cry all night, and then you wake up at 5, deal? break!" But, once you accept that your house will be a mess, you will eat more take out than you want to and your kids will watch more cartoons than you meant them to, you will realize that it is all pretty great. let grace be the word of the day, every day.

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterirreverins

Thanks for the encouragement Erin! But this was actually written by the OTHER Sarah, who is not currently with child. She had a mild panic attack there for a minute b/c she thought you might know something she didn't. ;) Then she realized the comment was for me.

I can't imagine why you'd get confused since we're both named Sarah ;)

-Sarah Stewart Holland

February 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

I really loved your honesty in this post. I'm not not a mother yet, but you really give the reality of being a mommy, not the glammed up version lol. It's hard work, but you're doing it!! Keep at it ;) I enjoyed the post.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLakia Gordon

I wish I had read this post when my children were much younger ... now that they are 8 and 11, I've come to terms with my SuperMommy shortcomings. But society sure plays a number on you when you're young -- and they're young!

Great perspective. And guess what? Any Mommy is a SuperMommy in my book. We've pushed children out of our bodies, and they've survived in the world (so far)! Congrats to you and all moms out there on that... ;)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMikalee Byerman

Why didn't our mother's warn us??

AND when did you come look at my kitchen floor??

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercrazyladyx5

Love this post. I struggle with letting go of what I "should" be doing or how I should look/act/feel every day now that I am a (working) mom of 2, and I know my friends who stay home with their kids feel the same way. There are too many expectations placed on us by the outside world and by our own expectations and as long as my kids are happy and healthy, I am working hard to let the other stuff go!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I am a mother too, i know how it feel...
Good luck on your dream being a pop star ^_~ My dream is being a director of a pop show ^_^

Congrats on being freshly pressed!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfarah

Love it. And I'm not even a mommy. Just a working housewife with chronic "issues". Let's leave it at that. Once you're done responding to the flood of comments you will receive for this, you should check it my unorganized blog too about surviving the stress of being a woman! I know I have more reading on your site to do.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhousewifingaround

I love this post! I feel like you are writing this on my behalf!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Bliss

I don't have any babies, but all my mom friends are living the same situation, that makes my realice that the only supermom I know is a cartoon show!
I hope I could, at least, do my hair or my hubby is going to go insane, hopefuly in 9 months I would know!
Love ur post!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterisabella

Fabulous post - I'm not a mom myself but a frenetic career woman :-( Hats off to you and all the other moms out there - the most difficult job in the world raising another human being, you are to be commended and congrats on FP :-)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbandsmoke

Great post! I'm a mother of two (6 years and 20 months old) and I understand every letter and every bullet in that post! Hats off to all (not so) supermoms out there

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthefooddoctor

Hahha, great post! Whilst i'm not a mother, I see my version of it more like this than the perfect one you describe at the beginning. As long as you have love in your family, who cares if you don't wear make-up and wish you were a pop star :-)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervixter2010

Oh boy, I can definitely relate to you! I have 3 kids ages 16 months, 7, and 11. Still trying to lose the extra 15 pounds, laundry for 3 kids is a full-time job, I too have learned to only wash the kitchen floor at the end of the week, and I really DESPISE dinnertime! Three different meals is normal in our home and what takes an hour to prepare and 3 minutes to eat, leaves a ton of clean-up... but before you can get to the dishes you have: homework, projects, making lunches, showers, dessert... and then it starts all over again the next day :) Moms are absolutely amazing! Thank you for your honest and humorous take on motherhood!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertracyadamo

Thanks for sharing, I loved this post. Reality is authentic and courageous, we do what we can and hope for the best.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRL

nice post

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergrosir baju

thank for shering

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergrosir baju

Oh don't we all feel this way? Its just that no one really says it too much. Perfection is boring and women weren't made to do it all!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthegentlehome

Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! This is a great post; I can relate in every way, although I would not have been brave enough to confess about my kitchen floor! I, too, aspried to be Claire Huxtable, but I fear I'm more Roseanne. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterASuburbanLife

Only slightly overworked? I loved reading this - my sons are 23 and 25 years old. Same story twenty years ago, but you should see my sons now! Enjoy, go forth and fail to scrub those floors.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwalkingsmall

Haha! Great post, and go easy on yourself for the frozen waffles. My son gets them just about every day and he's yet to show signs of malnourishment :)
I wrote on this idea of perfect mothers a few months ago and it is SO important, as you said, to realize that these Unicorn Moms (as I describe them) are hardly as fulfilled and pulled together as they might like you to think. The time it takes to get a manicure and put my hair in curlers just feels silly when I could be hanging out with my kid, dirty yoga pants and all.
Thanks for NOT being a stuffy SuperMom. The world's a better place for it :)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTori Nelson

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