The Supermom Myth

I am often told I have my hands full.

Persuading two five-year olds to hold hands, balancing a toddler on my hip and nodding to a teenager talking my ear off as I weave through Target can bring out these sort of comments I guess.

But they bother me. Maybe because I am already a little irritable when I’m stopped mid-crazy shopping trip or maybe because I will never feel like my hands are full or maybe because, aren’t all of our hands full?

If my kids have decided to be relatively quiet on a shopping trip but the mom one aisle over has an only child who has gone all “wet noodle” in front of the bouncy balls and is screaming like he just skinned his knees on concrete, aren’t her arms the full ones?

Whether you have one child or two children or 10, the truth about motherhood is that it is not easy for anyone, everyday, every moment.

No matter how well your neighbor organized her daughter’s lemonade stand, no matter how perfectly manicured your sister-in-law’s nails are and no matter how many runny-nosed children your best friend manages to entertain in her minivan, there is no supermom.

She doesn’t exist.

There isn’t a mom on the planet who can do it all perfectly from sun up until whenever she manages to lay her head down every. single. day.

And the minute we all come to terms with this, put down our recycled or paper or plastic shopping bags, and just embrace the fact that we are all doing the best we can, motherhood will get a whole lot easier for everyone.

I think back to my early years of motherhood and the pressure I put on myself to read parenting books, to get rid of the pacifier, to visit the best park, to join developmentally stimulating playgroups, to send a fancy-schmancy snack, and I wish I could have just told myself to relax.

What makes us unique, what makes our kids unique, is the kind of parents we are, the way we decide to spend our time with them and how we handle the good days and the bad. So your kid has seen Mommy crack in the laundry room and my kid has seen me ugly cry over the dishwasher. Let’s just hope they forget that part and only remember how we pushed them on the swings until our arms were ready to fall off or how we helped them with homework until we had to prop our eyelids open with a pencil.

If you have one child I hope he remembers an afternoon spent on your lap and you remember that one teething, nap-deprived toddler can be just as tough as a household of five busied siblings.

And if you have five children I hope they remember filling up the couch for movie night and you remember those days you did make everyone’s favorite lunch snack or got them all to soccer on time.

Because we are all supermoms, making media-approved or media-exploited choices, we love our children. And if your easiest day is my hardest then that’s just one more reason to lift each other up through this mom-gig and pour a universal glass of wine to congratulate each other at bedtime.

We’ve parented our way through one more day and our kids are cute enough when they sleep that we are already poised to get up the next day and fill our arms with motherhood all over again.

kids in capes

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  1. says

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    whitening teeth recently posted..whitening teeth

  2. says

    Thank you so much for this. Most days I recognize that I did the best I could, but between books, the doctor, other moms and my innate guilt pattern, I feel stressed out with the “I should have…” “What if I had only….” It’s overwhelming and gives me a pain in the neck and shoulders. :) Thanks for letting me know it doesn’t have to be perfect. Whatever that means, anyway.

  3. Jessie says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have a 15 yr old girl and a 5 yr old boy. I really needed this tonight, been struggling trying to be that supper mom and failing miserably. Needed to be reminded that its not about what others think but my relationship with my kiddos that matter! Thank you!

  4. says

    Love this. The other day I got the hands-full comment from the cashier when out with my causing-trouble 3-y-o. I replied it was nothing, I had 9 more at home. When the guy looked at me wide-eyed, I quickly said, “Kidding!!” and my 3-y-o, said “She is. There’s really 12.”

    Which is also not true, but I didn’t bother to correct him.
    anna recently posted..Basketball Player In the House

  5. says

    I detest that comment! It seems insulting to me. And really, what mama doesn’t have her hands full? Parenting is hard.

    Also – I love how you ended this post. Every night I check in on my sleeping girls and say a prayer over their little heads. And no matter how tough they were that day, seeing their calm little faces makes me smile and fills me with happiness.
    JD @ Honest Mom recently posted..My 2-word New Year’s Resolution may sound simplistic. But it’s not.

  6. Kelly says

    Jessica, the way you string words together about motherhood, simply beautiful. And sometimes I feel like that “other mom” who only has two kids and worried why I can’t keep the chaos from occurring. But your post reminded me, it all about perspective and everyone has their turn. :).
    Kelly recently posted..finding joy

  7. says

    Love this! Moms are not super heroes, but it can feel like we are sometimes, when peace has been restored, tears kisses away, hungry bellies settled or making an irruption of giggles out of a melt down, but we are all just doing the best we can.

    Turns out we moms have a lot of amazing super powers, don’t we?

    I haven’t visited your space in a while and it’s posts like this that remind me why I should. Daily. Your beauty, strength and inspiration shine through your words as always.
    Tonya recently posted..Sick

    • says

      I was just thinking of you over the weekend and thinking the same, that I hadn’t visited you in so long. I miss our old blogging life :).

  8. says

    I really don’t think people mean it in a negative way…at least most of them. I use to get told that more often when my kids were younger (5 1/2, 3 1/2 & newborn). I never hear it now that they are 11, 9 and 5 which I find ironic since I feel much more frazzled and “hands full” than I did when they were little.
    Robbie recently posted..365 Days of Kindness

  9. says

    Such a powerful, energetic post. I feel like I can conquer the world now, or at least one more life-shattering melt down over the spoon not being perfectly placed in the bowl of Reece’s Puffs. A to the MEN, sister!
    Tayarra recently posted..Don’t Take Him For Granted

  10. says

    I can so so relate to this! I am told this comment all the time.

    All moms have their hands full… end of story.

  11. says

    What a great post, Jessica! Adjusting to life with two kids instead of just one has been a bit of a challenge for me…trying to figure out how to balance a preschooler, a newborn, and a business. While still somehow managing to keep the laundry clean and food in the pantry. Many days I DO feel like I’m failing. But then? The 4 year old tells me how great I am for making his favorite snack. And my husband helps fold clothes. And my sweet baby gives me a smile. Life is good…even if it’s messy.
    Courtney Kirkland recently posted..Planning, Dreaming, Goal Setting

  12. says

    I have gotten this comment from strangers from the minute I first took my twins out in the world. It doesn’t matter if I have all four boys with me or just one, I seem to get it. Is it something that people just SAY to moms? I don’t get it. My response usually is, “Yes, I do have my hands full. Full of love.” Being a mom is the hardest job, but I absoluely love it. I will miss all the chaotic times of when my boys were little when they are grown. I always try to remind myself of that.
    Kathy at kissing the frog recently posted..10 Post-Holiday Murphy’s Laws: Decorating Edition

  13. says

    Really needed to read this tonight. Have been struggling today with all that I haven’t done or have done wrong the past two weeks, while my kids have been on vacation. My husband and I just had a conversation about how I talk too much about what has already happened. I need to start looking toward tomorrow, knowing I did the best I could today.

  14. says

    I’m WITH you Jessica. I’m only 6 years into motherhood and I’ve got four kiddos as well. I’m often told WOW my hands are full aren’t they? And I always say yes, happily full. As the days and years have passed I’ve found myself getting much more comfortable with doing less. Totally okay. People also sometimes ask HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL? ha. Well, I don’t. I don’t aim to be perfect. I love the comfy chaos we have going on. great post!

  15. says

    What a terrific post…and terrific reminder. We ARE all doing the best we can. And we all deserve some credit.Thank you. I need to print this out and remind myself of this often.
    Lisa recently posted..That Stings

  16. says

    Oh my goodness–YES. Love this: “I think back to my early years of motherhood and the pressure I put on myself to read parenting books, to get rid of the pacifier, to visit the best park, to join developmentally stimulating playgroups, to send a fancy-schmancy snack, and I wish I could have just told myself to relax.”

    I recently had a mom really try to pressure me to do a semester-long music class with our one year olds. I really didn’t want to and stood my ground. She sort of tried to guilt me about it. It’s her first kid. I’m like, “I’ve been doing this for 8 years. Call me in 8 years and tell me if you’re still singing up for overpriced music classes.”

    ;)
    Nina B recently posted..The Relaunch of Great New Books

    • says

      Totally agree, I think our kids are better for our relaxed attitude too. With my oldest I was obsessed with doing everything I could and I’ve become so much more comfortable with just doing what makes my kids and I happy rather than doing what we “should” be doing.
      Jessica recently posted..The Supermom Myth

  17. says

    Amen!! All of us have different strengths and talents for sure, but no one is perfect at anything. I am part of a Mom’s club and we have started getting together Friday mornings for coffee at one of the moms houses. We have very open and honest conversations and it has been great because I have learned that all moms have similar struggles and issues. The best thing we can do is support each other!
    Alexa recently posted..The Mom Connection – Setting Goals with my Children

  18. says

    Tell it like it IS, sister! Love you and your imperfect but just right super-duper-mom-dom. Thakns for this lovely post. (My version of super-mom tomorrow? Taking my kids to The Hobbit movie so I can get an expensive 3 hour nap – yay!)
    Varda (SquashedMom) recently posted..Best Bologna of 2012

    • says

      Totally agree, there are days I have just my three year-old and I’m taking deep breaths to maintain patience and other times they are all home and getting along (although not often). I think everyone just has their good days and their bad, kids included.
      Jessica recently posted..The Supermom Myth

  19. says

    Oh, i haven’t stopped by here in much too long. I always love to read your incredibly honest take on motherhood. And i for one don’t care if you have one kid or 50. You’ll always be a supermom to me. But most importantly, you are a supermom to all of your children. Raising my glass to you. Happy new year, sweet momma.
    Charlotte recently posted..how not to pick up a girl on NJ transit

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