It’s likely we all know someone whom we consider “Super Mom.” The woman who always seems to have it together, who appears to have incredibly well-mannered kids who, with a simple snap of her fingers, come directly to her and wait patiently for instructions. The woman who makes an ordinary lunch into a bento-box masterpiece that leaves the PB&J you hurriedly packed for your child seriously lacking in both style and originality. The woman who sends handmade cards for Christmas, complete with a heartfelt, handwritten note and not one of the “here’s what we did this past year” letters that are printed in bulk on holiday inspired paper.
As a woman who has often been called “Super Mom” by very sweet and well-meaning friends, I’m here to tell you a secret.
I’m a fraud.
Super Mom Is an Illusion
I started writing this post in a notebook as I sat in the center of a massive room in the Fort Smith, Arkansas Convention Center. Large, circular tables surrounded me. Bottles of water and clean snacks littered the tables. Makeup cases, curly wigs, and sparkling dresses could be glimpsed from every angle.
My weekends, once reserved for things I really enjoyed – like scrapbooking, reading, and cooking – have morphed into two hectic days filled with catching up on things that didn’t get done during the week or taking my girls from state to state to compete in a feis (Irish dance competition).
Life is busier than I ever imagined it could be. I’m a homeschooling, work-at-home mom who still has to care for a house, husband, kids, and dog. And I’m Type-A. This almost didn’t end well. And then I learned a secret.
It’s All about Priorities
It wasn’t that long ago that I sat in my bedroom wondering what was wrong with me. Never before had I felt so run down, so exhausted, so… worthless. I would have liked nothing more than to just run away. As I looked over my self-imposed “to do” list for the day, I began to sob. Deep, gasping sobs. I just didn’t know how I was going to get through the day.
I. Was. Done.
After clawing my way out of the pit of despair I had dug for myself, I decided to take a different approach to my life. One that involved letting go of my Type-A personality and realizing that perfection is imperfect for my life. I began to set priorities in my life and followed a few rules to help me keep them.
- Know your strengths. Though I’m a homeschooling mom, I realized I am not the kind of homeschooling mom who meticulously plans lessons or gets on the floor to create scale model dioramas. I am the type of homeschooling mom who finds a great online curriculum and prints off a weekly activity sheet. I’m here when my kids have questions, but I want them to be independent in their learning. My strength is not in teaching, but in supporting their education.
- Recognize your weaknesses. A bit different than knowing your strengths, as I enjoy some things I am really not good at. Like anything musical. And while I enjoy budgeting and handling our money, I am a train wreck when it comes to bookkeeping.
- Outsource what you really don’t like (or just don’t have time) to do. I strongly dislike housekeeping. After realizing that my hourly rate for social media education was more than the hourly rate for someone to come into my house twice a month and clean, I hired someone. (So, yes, I work outside the home for a few hours each week so I can have a housekeeper.) I also have a virtual assistant to help me maintain my websites as I just don’t have time to “do it all.” My freelance income covers it, and she is a Godsend.
- Make the kids accountable. Really. Don’t clean their rooms for them – and let them know that if you do have to clean their rooms that things will disappear (and not just under a pile of dirty clothes). Don’t just give an allowance, put them on commission. No work = no pay. And stick to it.
- Accept help. This is something that I still struggle with, but I’m getting better. When someone asks if they can help you, say yes. And then let them!
- Have shortcuts available when you need them. Frozen pizza on a busy night. A plastic bin to hide the mess when company is coming over. Shoving dirty dishes into the oven so no one will see your messy kitchen. Been there. And it’s okay.
But, beyond all this, just realize that the perfect mom you see really isn’t that perfect. Sure, she can make her kid’s lunch look like a Pixar movie, but she might just live in a house that looks like an episode of Hoarders and the bento lunch is the only organization she has.
You just never know.