Moms are awesome beings with incredible intuition, and endless empathy, overflowing with love, strength, powers, and brains! If moms were going to be compared to anything I do understand why we are compared to superheroes! It does acknowledge all the incredible things moms are able to achieve but often reflects the fact that moms are doing this without support.
I’m sitting here with glasses covered in duct tape because I once again forgot to order my contact lenses and my 4-year-old sat on my glasses. Sitting in bed on my laptop to work because we are on another week of undiagnosed digestive issues. Three times this week I have been called a superwoman/supermom for all that I am currently doing. All well-intentioned comments from people who support me and encourage me but I just have to come out and say I hate it!
Take a look at the narrative of any superhero, they drop their entire lives, friendships, relationships, hobbies, and jobs, all to pursue heroism.
Moms are not superheroes.
We cry in the toilet as we hear the word mommmmmyyy getting closer.
We take just an extra minute in the shower just to have space for ourselves
We search for clothes in last week's laundry basket.
We have that one TV show that we have replayed countless times while we project manage from the couch (our "relaxing" time)
We are not superheroes and the premise makes us afraid to come forward with real issues. It is part of the reason many moms feel we can never find a balance between work and life and that we have to sacrifice all other areas of our life in order to devote it to motherhood.
Yes, the well-intended compliment is meant to empower and appreciate all that moms do.
On the road to empowering moms and showcasing all that we can (and are) achieving we have somehow forgotten that it's also OK to need and ask for support
"I don't know how you do it"
"How do you manage it all?"
First and foremost I have a very supportive husband, a family I can turn to, friends that are a call away, a mentor, a coach, accountability buddies, business colleagues, and playgroups. Relationships I work hard to maintain and require me to be more than mom.
Check out some of the latest headlines and you will see that childcare and pay gaps largely still fall on moms lap. The double standards forcing moms to leave their careers burned out, overwhelmed, and under stimulated all at once. We are drowning and instead of getting help or support we are praised as superhero's as if we should be doing it all by ourselves.
“With great power, comes great responsibility”
Moms often carry around with them their family log. It's our power. We know who needs a checkup, when we need to look into sizing up clothes, what gifts need to be bought, what laundry needs to be done and when to check the fire alarms. It is so readily accepted that moms just do this that we rarely ever open up the conversation about solutions to help moms delegate this power.
"It gets easier" and the "well done you for managing it all" are lovely platitudes that shut down any real conversation.
We need real systemic support
Greater access to childcare
Work cultures of flexibility
To any moms reading this:
1. Ask for help
And not just an anonymous question on your favorite Facebook group. It can be so scary to ask for help and step outside of your comfort zone. You will be amazed though who is truly in your corner when you do get the courage to ask. Have an honest look at everything you are trying to manage on your own. Who have you turned to for support lately? Who could help? What is one thing, you can could ask someone to do for you today that would help you?
2. Think about the reality of what you 'should' be doing
"Should" is a word we need to remove from our vocabulary. There are no set rules and thinking that we "should" be doing something steals us from the present moment. It stops us from seeing what we are currently accomplishing. If you are sat under a sleeping baby while reading this, that is where you are meant to be. If you are working and not playing with your kids, well done! What you "should" be doing is giving yourself a break and understanding you cannot be everywhere and everything .
3. Check your expectations
How much pressure are you putting on yourself to be a superhero? Do you feel like you are the only one who can clean the house? The only one who can raise your child? The only one who can do your job? The only one who can do everything else that you do? Is that really true? What would it look like if you did get support? What would change for you? How would it help?
4. Stop keeping self-care at the bottom of the list
Did you ever think before becoming a mom that you would have to justify to yourself taking 10-minutes to enjoy a coffee or read a book? You are not a superhero with the power to heal yourself instantaneously. In order to be the best you can be, you need to look after yourself. It is not always easy but stop putting it on the bottom of your priority list. I created my PJS system to help me in the morning:
The best thing about my pjs I can accomplish it in as little as 5-minutes or spend 30-minutes if I have the time. It is time FOR ME each morning to plan my priorities and boundaries so I can get sh*t done. It is journaling what I am grateful for or need to get out of my head so I can focus. It is moving my body to check in with myself and feel stronger for the day ahead.
5. Always on Mom
Ever see the superhero's journey how they sacrifice friendships and all other interests in order to rescue everyone? Sound like any mom stereotype you know?
We can't do it all and yes sacrifices have got to be made to make room for all the new in our life but again the dangerous assumption leaves moms who don't drop that aspect of their life seem like a "bad mom" or "disinterested" . There is space for all of you mom, I promise you. I worked with a client who could spend upwards of 7 hours meditating without interruption because it was a boundary she successfully and slowly introduced with her children. They understood over time how essential it was for their mom. What difference would it make if you switched off mom for 15-minutes a day?
Let's leave the superheroes to be solo saviours where disaster seems to follow and celebrate the real mom
As a working mom of three children aged 4 years old, 2 years old and 6 months old; Our unfinished house is pickled with laundry (clean and unclean), a garden half mowed and a coffee machine is the most used appliance! My husband and I have developed a passing ship language, using text messages to talk in the same house because the message will be read instead of swallowed in the noise of the umpteenth meltdown. We strive to keep all the balls in the air but sometimes they fall, sometimes the other stumbles to catch it and other days we feel like we could join the circus.
I work with parent's who all the time tell me how they want/need/desire more time and feel guilty trying to do it all and are just blown away when they realise that what they actually have to put down is the pressure both self-imposed and societal.
We're allowed to change the rules
Yes I was the mom with the long list of never will I ever and I have broken to my knowledge approximately all of them
So mamas put down your cape on the growing pile of laundry, put your feet up and celebrate the perfectly imperfect human you! or those who want to support moms try saying:
1. That sounds like you are doing a lot. How are you?
2. I know you don't have a lot of time to talk but I'm here when you're ready
3. Thank you for all you do
1. A home cooked meal/take out delivered
2. Offer to mind the kids
3. Ask them how you can best support them