“Mommy, is she going to be better at everything than me?”
I hugged my dripping wet tiny seven-year-old. At the end of our girls’ first swimming lessons, what I had dreaded the whole six week session happened.
The younger got promoted to the next level and her big sister didn’t.
Bigger and more athletic than her older sister, she simply had better motor skills, a higher attention span, and more courage at that young age. Big Sister struggled with a mix of hurt and jealousy.
“Am I always going to be not as good?”
I struggled, too.
I mean, given their genetics, none of our children were ever going to be athletically coordinated, let alone gifted. As the larger and stronger child, though, her little sister did have an edge. What to say to this little wet waif, certain that she would always be at the end of every performance test?
I’m checking in at A Fine Parent today with this article on children, jealousy, and how to find abundant praise for everyone, no child left behind!
Mother’s Day. Love it. Hate it. I’ve done both. But one thing remains–we are all in it together.
My radio station is at it again. Every time I’m in the car, I hear one more story lately of a “supermom.” It’s their lead-up to Mother’s Day. People (and by people I mean usually offspring of the supermom) nominate a woman as a supermom, and the radio host reads her story. It’s all very touching and mostly true, I’m sure. I do get the idea. We want to honor our moms, and that’s great.
And the Winner Is . . .
Last year, the station outdid the simple story and hosted a parade honoring the one woman chosen as the superest of supermoms. Yes, a PARADE down her street and in her town. Listening to that, I wondered, is there anything I would be more uncomfortable with than a parade honoring me? Well, I haven’t yet had my first colonoscopy. Maybe that. But that, at least, comes with some measure of privacy a parade does not.
I cannot thank my kids enough for not putting my name in for that one. I know the extraverted among us might find that fun, but I would prefer a nice weekend in a cabin by the water as my prize, thank you. Not that there is much danger of my ever winning the title. I am imagining how this would go down:
Parade Host: Is there anyone here present who knows any lawful reason why Jill Richardson should not be considered for the title of Supermom? If so, speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Child #1—There was that forcing us to eat mushy spaghetti incident.
Chid #2—And forgetting to pick me up from school for two hours.
Child #3—Missing my first grade Mother’s Day program comes to mind.
The first runner up would be riding in that convertible in no time, waving at her people.
Point being, instead of feeling honored when we hear these contests, a lot of us just feel more unworthy. More pressure to measure up. More belief that everyone else is doing it better. Less assurance that we will ever succeed at this mom thing.
“Supermom” sends the message that parenting is a competition. It’s not enough to be a mom; you’ve got to put forth the the effort to get to that gold medal stand.
Can I please interject with a question—Why? Why the race to be better than other women? Why the need to prove we’ve got this under control? Why the certainty that if our kids don’t sport organic cotton playclothes with matching fedoras we’ll be motherhood epic fails? Why do we define our worth by whether or not anyone ever nominates us for supermom?
This just in: A supermom is not a woman who has perfect children. Her worth is not determined by how many awards her kid wins, what college her son gets into, how many activities her daughter participates in, the cleanliness or size of her house, or whether she volunteers for the homeless shelter, charity fashion show, and blood drive.
You are a Supermom
A supermom is a woman who shows up, every day, whether she feels like it or not, and loves and teaches her kids for another day. A supermom shows her children that greatness lies in being there for the long haul and loving hardest when the will is the weakest. Supermoms make mistakes, big ones, and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, it gets downright messy, but you keep crawling through the mud anyway, because that’s what you do.
Supermoms show up. Every day.
Supermoms aren’t sure if they can love any more for one minute at the end of the day, but then they love anyway.
Supermoms don’t know if they’re doing anything right, but they keep doing what needs to be done.
Supermoms wipe up the vomit and wipe away the tears and wipe off the insecurity, whether they’re wearing yoga pants or a power suit, whether it’s convenient or not.
Supermoms find one more spot on the shelf for a handmade creation, count the days until those creations stop showing up, then feel guilty for rushing childhood.
Supermoms know that tears and smiles, laughter and sobs, are interlocked in ways we can’t understand but instinctively know are two sides of the same thing.
Supermoms feel like throwing it in and hitting the beach in Antigua, but then they hit the homework help and the stovetop and the after-work-school witching hour. One more time.
Supermoms don’t need or get parades, because they understand that this is not a competition. More like a long voyage into uncharted territory where we know it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep afloat until we get there together. Women who start taking shots at other women will soon find they’ve put cannon holes through the sides of their own ship. Women who join hands and have one another’s backs in this, their toughest adventure yet, get through the only way we can–together.
You don’t need to be a supermom. You just need to show up. One more day, one more load of laundry, one more argument mediated. One more moment to hold a hand that’s growing too fast and teach it kindness, and multiplication. That’s what you do. And you can do it. Happy Mother’s Day.