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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)

Wonderful blog! I'm new to this and have a lot to say, so I'll be checking back in from time to time. Thanks for putting all of this down in writing.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergreeknile60

Love it! Confessions of an eye doctor, mother of two girls and surprise baby boy four years later....the Mom Bombs with the cool crafts can take their pipe cleaners and put them to better use in my opinion. THRILLED I'm not the only former multitasking queen gone mad and turned upside down by the joys of little ones. It's a revolt, ladies. A well deserved revolt. I've seen my last urgent care for fevers and ear aches and turned to technology. Speaking with the pediatrician while in my PJs enjoying my Dunkin Donuts coffee? That's my way of handling the flu. Take that Mr Virus. Mama's home now!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYour On Call Doc

This is a great post and I love your honesty. I'm the same way. I thought this motherhood thing would be a piece of cake. HA! And I'll have you know that: 1) When my daughter drops food on the floor, my vacuum is my dog -- really; 2) I wash my hair less often that you do; and 3) I have let my kid watched Dora and Diego for the sole reason of me taking a nap on the couch. So go easy on yourself -- us "bad moms" need to stick together! By the way, I wrote a similar post last year. If you're interested, check it out: http://leahsthoughts.com/2010/05/08/a-mothers-day-ode-to-the-bad-mother/

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleahsinger

I love this post. Let's fast forward 18 years young mom. I have four grown sons. I have the empty nest sydrome. I miss those crazy days when my boys would come home and tell me they need 30 cupcakes by morning. I miss tripping over their shoes and their shining faces all scrubbed on school mornings. I miss my soccer mom ponytail and tucking my little ones into bed at night. I miss seeing them everyday. I miss all of the messes, the cooking, the homework, the insane late nights folding laundry and little boy jeans with grass stains on the knees. Mom, enjoy each and every little mess, every 5:30 am wake up call because it goes by so quickly. I'm jealous. God bless you.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan M. Elliott

[...] are so very simple, chic, sophisticated, sexy, and edgy — all attributes that I appreciate and wish I channeled. Because Emily captures and presents things so well (I sorta feel like I’m opening a perfectly [...]

I have to confess I'm a (not so) SuperSon.
For example: when I visit my mom and I start climbing on her head at 5:30 in the morning and aggravate her detached cornea.
Sorry! Nobody is perfect.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyan McGivern

You've recalled on my mind lots of memories going back to around 15 years ago. Flashbacks which are fortunately confirming to myself that I did not - consciuosly nor unconsciously - try to follow any "Supermom-Pattern".
Thank you for giving me this opportunity of awareness!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTina

Must be tough going from Superwoman to (not so) Supermom. It's a hard enough transition from (not so) Superwoman to (not so) Supermom! Glad to know that you're also enjoying it though. ;-)

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdustandsky

I love this post! Unfortunately I still apologise for my house, and continue to compare myself to my single friends with their Better Homes and Garden's houses! Or as I saw on The Simpson's 'Better Homes than Yours' houses. Sigh.

I think i'll stop apologising now. You have enlightened me!

How beautifully maintained is your garden? If it's anything like mine there are many of the types of large mammal that should never live in the tall grasses of a suburban backyard....

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercaseytopia

Geez, you must be more than just "ok" because you managed to write a pretty kickin' post.....(that beats Heidi Klum hair any day!)

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSister Earth Organics

My other half doesn't understand my already high level of multi-tasking madness. We don't have children as of yet, but they are on the radar for the future.
My brothers are 12 and 14 years younger than me, and I see the insanity that my mother has gone through and still goes through. I intend to be so prepared it hurts...but then I guess intentions are one thing....and children are another.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershinypigeon

LOVE this post! This is a common conversation in my circle too, and my children are 8 and 12 (soon to be 9 and 13 in about a month, yikes!). I really thought that once they were in school full-time that I would somehow go back to being "me"... but apparently, this is me: occasionally showered, bare faced and mis-matched. I applaud you for being able to prioritze now so that you don't miss out on your children's childhoods. I look forward to reading more and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermypajamadays

Excellent post. I totally relate to not getting that damn "to-do" list done. And feeling like you didn't "accomplish" anything. But seriously, now that I've been a mom for almost 9 years, I realize that raising your kids in a safe, loving, albeit messy home is a gigantic accomplishment to be proud of. Your kids won't remember the clean kitchen or perfectly made organic meals... just that mom shared her love and time with them.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShe's a Maineiac

Brilliant! You know what makes us moms Super? It is the fact the we realise the important things in life is NOT the clean house, perfect cupcakes, designer body, TV hair, etc. It is our love and dedication to our kids. The fact that we put them first and we come second. They are not small forever. And when this madness is over, we will mis it.
Mom of Francois, 3 and Niela 11 months

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeleen

Great post, you're a super Mom!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda Anderson

As long as your kids think that you are super that's all that matters.
Good enough it just that... good enough! No one needs to be perfect.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertryityoumightlikeit

Now u're talking ma'm!!! I'm not a mother (yet) and i'm beggin' the sky to give me one of those pinked-cheek some day 'coz it'll be my pride. It would not matter if we have thai take-away dinner 5 night/week or if my floor looks like a graffiti wall; i'll consider myself a supermom if he raises strong, wise, healthy and not a [jerk]. My mom (may she rest in peace) got 10 between 27 and 45. We are all more than grown, but i remember her running around, up and down, going crazy trying to do all the stuff in her "to do list" ten times increased. Everyday same old same old. She never did gave up... ever til death did her part. Congrats for my mother and all those women like my mother and like all the Sarahs around the www. I wish i could be like u some day... unless all my clothes smell like baby vomit and i look like [crap]. Women are wow, but mothers are more than unbelievable.
Congrats for the FP, and if u don't mind come have a look on my blog. It is blackhealthful.wordpress.com and let me know what do u think about it. It's more than a great post, u're funny, smart, realistic and fresh, goob for u.
by Blackelve.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarlothdar

Welcome to motherhood! You think you are going to do one thing, and then you become a mother and realize all those goals are unrealistic. Good thing the kids are cute, or I would have run away years ago. :)

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterournote2self

Awesome. :) Same here!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarlana

Haha. This post is soooo to the point. I was just thinking about it myself today. And yes, I watch Glee, 90210 and anything else that reminds me how it feels to be younger and energetic again. Not that I was ever like any of the characters.....weird thing.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbabymom

Thanks, dear readers! I'm still shocked and in awe of how many of you enjoyed reading my words. I'm truly touched. It's also wonderful to learn that many of us experience the same daily challenges and that we're not alone in the adventures of parenthood. I echo many of your sentiments — all (not so) Supermoms unite! At least it's a fun ride that we can laugh about, too.

The Other Sarah

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

[...] in the dorm. I was amazed at the description of this woman. Yesterday, I came across a hilarious, quirky little post about the eternal struggle for moms to be this “SuperMom.” I keep reading this passage [...]

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternoble wife wannabe « dus

It's funny that you mention the garden. We don't have a functional one and we're actually meeting with a landscaper this week to make it usable for the Little Dude. It's definitely going to be low maintenance, though. Thanks for reading!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

Too funny. Thanks for reading!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

I can so see myself playing the rock (I'm making a mental note of this game)! It actually reminds me of a game that I used to play with my screaming sisters when we were in the car - the quiet game - the person who was quiet for the longest amount of time won. It's amazing what you can get away with when you're about 10 years older than your siblings. : ) Thanks for reading!

- The Other Sarah

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

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