The Myth of Supermom
Sorry to break it to you, there’s no such thing.
Right off the bat, I can firmly say that there’s no such thing as Supermom. It is a myth. And more often than not, this glorification can hurt ourselves as moms.
I used to want to be a perfect mom. I wanted to do “all the things” — the arts and crafts, the homemade organic cakes, and fill our days with brain-boosting, sensory activities. And I wanted to be hot as hell and stylishly dressed while doing it. Back then I thought it was achievable to be everything to my family.
But now, with three children and all their dynamics, I’m a firm believer that being a supermom is a myth. Myths that must be dispelled, especially with the role of social media where people want to see and be seen. Which is natural. But the role of a mother, which is already difficult, seems to be made even more difficult with standards that are sometimes made by us ourselves.
As someone who has anxiety and been spending my time spreading mental health awareness (in the best way that I can, that is), I am profoundly concerned about the underlying crisis that is forming inside staging, overthinking, using each other for polished image opportunities, false narrative of hardships, or glorification of a role (motherhood) that is downright stressful. I worry about the script everyone is creating — and I’m curious about the scars our children will bear as a result of this action.
Why moms must be perfect?
Our culture demands a woman to become mommy as soon as she gets married and sacrifice herself for her child. If she resists it, the criticism she has to face is horrifying. And when some women struggle with the new role of motherhood, they have to face the criticisms, shame, and hatred for not being good enough. I remember when I just had my first child and whine about the lack of sleep that I had to endure to one of my relatives and he said,
“no one’s gonna die of exhaustion and lack of sleep while tending your own baby…”
So there you go. Some women pressure themselves to be the ‘perfect’ mommy since they are conditioned like that for generations. Mothers are willing to be and do everything while being everywhere all the time. That is almost impossible, simply because no one is perfect.
The role of social media.
Social media is great. Most of the time. However, we are also all introduced to seeming Supermoms everywhere we look, with beautiful babies, perfect husbands, gorgeous homes, incredible vacations, girls’ nights out, impossibly perfect clothes, clear skin, and manicured nails, which confirms the false narrative that becoming a supermom can be achieved, thanks to the advent of influencer culture and the mommy-blogger.
Glorifying the unrealistic lives that mothers lead and the unattainable expectations that we put on them can be meant as a compliment, but it is actually a toxic and damaging social construct that reinforces the almost cruel standards that mothers are held to. Calling moms superheroes can make them feel like they are failing when they struggle to do it all. For the moms who seem to be doing it all, it isn’t just a miracle, that mom is probably at the end of her rope and just putting on a good show or has an army of help behind the scenes that enables her to do the impossible.
Motherhood is just one thing. But it is a one BIG thing.
A woman, just like any other human being has her own ideas, thoughts, and needs. Woman has other roles and relations too apart from (and before) being a mother. When a child is born, your personality shifts, and the woman you’ve spent decades growing into looks a little different. Dr. Alexandra Sacks writes in the New York Times that anthropologists call this evolution matrescence and compare it to adolescent growing pains: volatility, acne, hormone swings, mental roller coasters, and everything. So it is a thing. Taking a role of motherhood requires preparation, readiness and things will definitely change.
So how do we debunk the supermom myth?
Let’s have a reset. Yes, by being a mother meaning to recognize that you’re evolving a new identity. It’s never easy. But your former self needn’t to disappear. If you want to, you’ll still be able to workout, speak to your partner, do your hobby, or lead businesses like the way you used to do. You might also do something completely different. Allow yourself time and space to develop, and revel in the woman who emerges.
Embrace that giant slap in your face. The truth.
Some women don’t even seem pregnant at 40 weeks and 5 days. Most likely, neither did their mothers or grandmothers. They’ve had a baby and are only wearing their size 4 jeans from the hospital.
You know what? Good for them! You know what else? That isn’t the case for everybody! That’s fine. You may have gained weight through your pregnancies and are now trying to lose it. If it bothers you then that’s something you’ll have to navigate on your own through diet, exercise, or acceptance.
But then we can keep healthy habits and let the rest go.
Our genetics often give us an advantage as mothers, and sometimes they don’t. Many who are inherently self-motivated, self-assured, and hardworking would be seen as having it all together. It doesn’t necessarily imply that they do, but it’s possible that they do. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good mom just because you’re not instinctively inclined to do — or not do — those stuff. You cannot change who God made you to be, you can only change your habits and practices. Don’t think you are sub-par if things come as a struggle to you.
Acknowledge your feelings without guilt.
As mothers, we have a range of emotions. There are ups and downs, and no mother can always feel joy, affection, and complete peace with her kids. “Most of the time, the experience of motherhood is not good or bad, it’s both good and bad,” said Dr. Sacks.
You don’t know the struggles of others.
We have no idea what other women and moms are going through just by looking at them. They can say and do the right things, and have immaculately dressed, respectful, and genius-like children. They could even cry themselves to sleep each night. They perhaps juggling their work stuff and feel the mom-guilt as their kids spend more time with the sitters.
We simply cannot judge a mother solely on the basis of her results, for she is more than what she does for her children or how well she keeps her house.
Change the narrative.
Stop airbrushing, filtering, and editing the imperfections out of what it really means to be a mom. The only way we can change the unrealistic social standards put on moms if we understand how harmful it is to our physical, emotional, and mental health to be asked to do more than we can. Let’s stop glorifying the grind and glamourizing burnout, and instead see and appreciate moms for who they really are: brilliant, important, powerful, resourceful, resilient, and wonderful human beings with limits, just like the rest of us.
Last but not least, Your kids don’t care.
Your kids adore and love you. They love you because you are their mother, and they were created to love and be loved by you. They don’t need you to be preoccupied with your body, the menu, smudged walls, or how adorable their outfits are. Your daughter doesn’t mind if you don’t match your friends’ outfits or if you’re bringing an extra ten kilos. There’s also a good chance that she probably didn’t even know you were fat. Your kids want your time, attention, acceptance, and support.
They want to know you’ll fight for them and their future. They want to know you care more about them than how many mommy’s groups you go to or how many charity committees you chair. Sure, they want to see you doing something for others and giving back. Of course, you want to be a role model. But don’t waste your time pretending to be something you’re not because your children already believe you’re a superhero. Stop comparing yourself to others.