Have you ever heard of Supermom? I have. Moms in my workshops have told me all about her. Here’s what I’ve learned about Supermom. She has an immaculate, professionally decorated house; she has smart, beautiful children; she buys every material possession she or her family could ever want; she’s married to a man who is smart, handsome, fit, and makes six figures, and they get along famously; she has a lucrative side job of her own; she volunteers to help out at the kids’ school twice a week; and she still manages to look great in a swimsuit after three kids!
I want all of the moms in the world to know that this creature does not exist. There is no such thing as a Supermom. If you think a person you know is a real-life Supermom, she probably has high blood pressure, tons of guilt, loads of credit card debt, a surgically-enhanced body, never gets enough sleep, and often feels guilty, frustrated, and lonely. In other words, Supermom is an illusion.
Hogan’s Slogan #47: “Supermom does not exist.”
I once told a group of moms that Supermom does not exist, and one mom directed me to proof that Supermoms do exist: celebrity magazines. When standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, I’ve noticed that the tabloids set up near the cash registers have really focused on celebrity moms over the last few years. They run articles on how a new mom with millions of dollars made the “tough” decision to stay at home for a few years with her small child. They feature photo spreads of brand-new, well stocked nurseries, complete with flouncy bassinets, set up for a celeb’s unborn baby. Comparing yourself to these incredibly wealthy women who are portrayed as perfect in a magazine and who you don’t know personally (and whose faults you therefore can’t see) won’t make you feel very good about you’re yourself as a mom.
In fact, in some cases, celebrity moms are just playing the part in front of the cameras and letting their hired help do all of the hard parenting work. Nannies, professional decorators and manufacturers that give away baby gear for free in exchange for endorsements might really be the ones masterminding the illusion.
In 2003, I asked dads in my workshops to name one thing they would like their wives to do to, and almost all of them wanted their wives to stop playing Supermom. Here are just a few of the many, many comments guys made on this subject:
“I’d like to see my wife stop feeling guilty about making time for herself.”
“I’d like to see my wife take naps when our baby takes a nap and forget about cleaning the house.”
“I wish my wife wouldn’t get so wrapped up in her to-do list and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, even if she was only able to get to five of the ten things she had on her list.”
“I’d like to see my wife not try to be all things to all people.”
Replacing the Myth with Facts
Remember that Supermom is a mythical creature. Don’t let guilt or outside pressures force you into a situation in which you’re overworked and frustrated. If you’re finding yourself stressed out because the bathroom fixtures aren’t gleaming, your husband’s take on it might very well be, “Who cares? Let the bathroom get a little more dirty. We can clean it next week.”
Frustration and guilt set in when you can’t turn ideals into reality. Dads hate to see their wives kill themselves in an attempt to attain these ideals. Perfection doesn’t exist.
I’ve learned over the years that moms try hard because they really love their families. Their families appreciate the love, but they also love the mom in return and don’t want to see her stressed out and overworked. You’re only human … which is all we ask for.
Letting Go is Healthy for Everyone
When you realize that Supermom is no more real than Wonder Woman, you can establish realistic expectations for yourself, and you and your family will feel more comfortable and relaxed. What should you do with any extra free time you have left over? You should find activities that don’t involve housework or relate to your family. You can wallow in relaxation—take a hot bath, visit a friend, go to a movie. If you start to get bored, that’s when it’s time to pursue more creative or constructive activities that validate you as a person, not as a mom or wife. Some examples are taking a photography class, learning yoga, or keeping up on career skills if you’re planning to go back to the work force.
Remember who you are as an individual, and your self-esteem will soar. You’ll be giving your kids a great example, and you won’t have to depend on your family for all of your validation and self-worth, which could get frustrating for you and annoying for them after awhile.
Someday, your kids will be grown up. When the time comes for them to be self-sufficient, you and they will be better able to handle the transition if you’ve kept up other interests.
Take the time to do things that interest you and remember the following tips:
- Supermom does not exist.
- Celebrities aren’t Supermoms. Don’t compare yourself to them.
- Watching their wives try to play Supermom is painful for dads. They feel very strongly that moms should cut down on the responsibilities they’ve set themselves up for, and delegate some of those tasks to other people, or else let them slide altogether.
- Supermom ideals do not match up well with reality! Trying to be a Supermom can inflict too much pressure on yourself, your kids, your husband, and your bank account.
- Realize which of your tasks are really necessary and appreciated by your family, and drop what’s not.
- Don’t feel guilty about not being a Supermom. Also, if you’ve managed to avoid the guilt, feel good about your accomplishment instead of falling into a guilt cycle.
- If you have extra time left over, spend it on yourself by relaxing or pursuing outside interests that help you grow as an individual.
This is an excerpt from The Modern Mom’s Guide to Dad: Ten Secrets Your Husbands Won’t Tell You by Hogan Hilling and Jesse Jayne Rutherford. Cumberland House Publishing.