The Supermom Myth
by Ignacia Levy
reprinted from www.littlethings.com
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or an 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. career mom (with after hours at home required, in many cases), you will soon come to learn that it is very difficult and exhausting to try to “do it all” for the sake of your family.
Let me set the stage here: If you are a full-time working mom, you can’t possibly work more than 40 hours a week and then come home and give your kids optimal care. Us moms certainly try, though.
Remember that in the end, something always gives. It will be either your interaction with your children, or their interaction with you, or most likely, it will be your own health. It’s all interconnected you see.
The trick is to take a deep breath, and try to embrace motherhood while still keeping sane, being relatively healthy, and most importantly, not forgetting to laugh through this wonderful weird journey of raising children. Because each stage of your child’s life is so damn special, so make sure you decide how you want to live your life with your children. And screw what society expects.
Here are a few “isms” that have helped me do just that.
There. I just made up a word. My parents worked hard to provide for our family. Because of that, us kids understood work ethic and value from a young age. Remember to teach your children (especially millennial moms) that the greatest things in life must be earned. It is OK to spoil them once in a while, but also make sure to keep their young feet on the ground. Let them earn their wings in life.
2. Manipulative games-ism
Our kids sure know how to have their way with us. That good old guilt trip does the trick every time, doesn’t it? It is, after all, a kid’s most powerful ammo. When they are between 3 and 7 they start to use several manipulative phrases (they are very strategic you see). Make sure to stand your ground and be secure in your own knowledge and wisdom. Even though our kids may teach us a few lessons, never doubt your own intuition. This means when you say no, you have to really mean no.
3. Practice what you preach-ism
Always show your deepest values. Kids learn most when we demonstrate certain behaviors. So instead of preaching, just show your children through your actions of understanding, kindness, perseverance, compassion, discernment, resilience, and strength. Sometimes you might even want to set the bar a bit higher. They look to you for guidance so be the leader you were born to be.
4. Allow room for failure-ism
It is important to protect our children, but only to a certain extent. We don’t become mothers so that we can protect our children from every single consequence of the decisions they make, even though it is our natural instinct to do so. When your child is at a maturity level to make practical decisions on his/her own, allow that. But also make sure you allow for failure. This is one of the most valuable lessons we can teach our kids.
Keep in mind that the lesson is not to purposefully fail but rather how to become resilient if and when they do. Teach them how to pick up the pieces after mistakes. Teach them to not stay stuck, teach them to feel sad, to cry, to forgive (when appropriate), and to move on.
Life is here for us in the moment. Teach your children to embrace life, even after failure, because it is all part of growing into the person they will one day become.
5. Layer cake-ism
Seems like kids today too often see life as one-dimensional. For better or worse, much of life is very interconnected. When you make a poor decision in one area of your life it almost always has a domino effect in other areas of your life. Just like poor decisions regarding relationships can easily blend into poor decisions on the work front. Anyway, the point is, help your children understand that it is possible to achieve a joyful and abundant life when their values are permeated throughout all layers of life: career, relationships, family, passions, spiritual, self-growth, and so on.
6. Don’t take it too personally-ism
Your kids will eventually grow into teens. They will adopt new opinions and attitudes, which will probably be different from what you may have shared with them. Oh yes, they will confront you. They will make a point to go out of their way to show you that you are “wrong” in your beliefs and ideals. It is just their way of exerting all this new knowledge.
It’s normal for kids to test out the waters, usually on someone they love dearly — us parents. For instance, try not to get upset with your teenage daughter’s opinion. Her newly developed opinions make her a new young woman. And they are not your opinions, they are hers. She is growing up into her own person. And this is really the ultimate goal of being a parent — to create independent thinkers!
7. Know that you are doing the best you can-ism
Us moms usually have the best intentions at heart. But sometimes the best of us isn’t what shines. We all have our challenging moments, mornings, days, and even weeks. So even though they don’t want to eat their dinner, or they make a scene because you didn’t get that chocolate bar they wanted, in the end, know they love you. You are giving it your best. Trust me, that is all that matters.
We all get burned out at some point. We are only human and we are working to cover all the bases. In between providing financial support, caring for the children, inspiring them, making home feel really like a home (and not just a house) for comfort, love, and care. I could go on…
Do not feel “mommy guilt,” and make a commitment to take a few days off. Make arrangements to have your little ones cared for. Say this with me: “I don’t feel guilty.” This is where the superhero mom would break all barriers and use her superhuman strength to move beyond any pain and exhaustion.
This is where I learned the tough lesson that I am not superhuman after all. But it is perfectly alright, because I absolutely love being a mom! Superhuman or not.