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Confessions of a (Not So) Supermom

When you’re at the park pushing a swing, shopping for diapers at Target, or simply walking down the street with baby in tow, do you ever find yourself staring at one of those mothers and wonder what you’re missing? C’mon, you know what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the Supermom.  She runs 10 miles, does downward dog, and answers 50 e-mails before the sun and Little Johnny rise.  She has perfectly coiffed hair, a body that rivals Heidi Klum, and doesn’t need botulism Botox to look beautiful. She’s CEO of everything, only prepares scrumptious organic meals, and has children that emit sunshine. Okay, so I exaggerate. The woman isn’t that perfect, but she sure seems to epitomize this otherworldly, unattainable ideal of motherhood. And alas, I still find myself staring at this mythical heroine through the shield of my aviator sunglasses wondering how she balances it all (or at least fakes it to make it).

While I never expected to be like June Cleaver, I did imagine that I’d glide through motherhood like Claire Huxtable: smart, witty, rational mommy lawyer bringing home the bacon and managing family life with style and grace.  Of course it was possible to be this version of a Supermom, especially because I’d previously kicked the butt of all multitasking villains and earned my cape as Superwoman sans baby. I worked in a high-powered career, shopped at the farmers’ market for dinner, squeezed in yoga and friends, remodeled my bathroom, made cupcakes, and still had time for an episode of True Blood all before going to bed. Jeez, how hard could it be?

Daydream music comes to a screeching halt. Bubble bursts. Cue reality.

At the end of my real life episode as a work-at-home mom, I seriously feel and look more like Miranda Hobbes than Charlotte York. I am tired, slightly overworked, struggling with what we all struggle with—balance, imperfectly dressed, ready to collapse on the couch and enjoy Thai takeout, happy to be home, and struck by the daily realization that I didn’t get anything done. You raise your eyebrow and ask, “How can you feel all of the above if you didn’t get anything done? What the hell did you do all day?”  I know, I know. It sounds crazy. But I can tell you that I am not the only new mom afflicted by this phenomenon, where one who used to be a multitasking maven now can barely manage to check off a few items if any from her “to do” list.

My dear friend and I recently commiserated about this very issue. She, like me, reaches the end of her active day as a mom feeling exhausted, as if she tackled a week’s worth of errands and chores but in reality only made it to the Post Office.  Maybe we were naïve to think that we’d emerge from the new parent sleep-deprived daze capable and ready to do it all, but we never thought in a million years that it would be so challenging to muster the energy to balance mommyhood with all the “other stuff,” especially when we were no longer beholden to the law firm.  As we confessed that our type-A personalities were having some difficulty coming to terms with the baby toys littering the living room floor, the dishes left undone, the pile of laundry reaching Everest-sized proportions, and our inability to make real meals unless you count Luna Bars, we also shared the secret that it was positively freeing not to be burdened with multitasking and the self-imposed pressure to be “productive.”

After we ended our Skype chat, I kept thinking about how good it felt to openly reveal that we are happier individuals/women/mothers/wives/friends/you name it when everything isn’t perfect. So, I’ll also confess to you why I’m a (not so) Supermom:

  • I hate that my son wakes up at 5:30 AM because I am not ready to play before the sun rises, so I bring him to bed with me in an attempt to lure him back to sleep for a just a little while longer. I pretend to keep sleeping even when he crawls on my head.

  • I wash my hair every other day, never blow dry it, and always wear it in a French twist, ponytail, or braid. Personal grooming takes too much energy.

  • I look like the living corpse of Sarah because I never have time to put on concealer or any other makeup for that matter. Again, see bullet point above.

  • I pretend to look pulled together by accessorizing my outfits with a brightly patterned scarf and flashy stud earrings. Hopefully, no one will notice that I’ve worn the same pair of jeans three days in a row.

  • I feed my son frozen waffles, instant oatmeal, and vegetable puffs on an almost daily basis because they’re quick and easy. Hey, at least they’re organic.

  • I gave up cleaning the kitchen floor after every meal and ignore the food crumbs and sticky tile until it becomes too unsightly. Mothers must've coined the phrase, "don't cry over spilled milk."

  • I have stopped apologizing for the water-stained quartz countertops, dishes in the sink, mail on the dining table, and shoes collecting by our door.  Because I’m not a candidate for the television shows about hoarders, I’ve stopped worrying about my mess.

  • I buy cookies and cupcakes at the bakery, and I rely on Trader Joe’s to get me through a dinner party.  Yes, it’s true, I used the store’s delicious flash frozen mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. Martha would not approve.

  • Sixteen months later and I have not lost all the baby weight. Instead, I wear a lot of black or use Spanx.

  • Once my son goes to bed, I watch Glee and fantasize about being a pop star instead of attending to my “to do” list. A girl's gotta dream, right?

The list definitely goes on.

And while there is still a small part of me that occasionally aspires to be Supermom, I feel relieved that I can hang up my cape along with my star-studded hot pants and high heels and don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not (I certainly don’t want to fake it to make it).  So, productivity be damned! Everything is perfect whether or not I clean the kitchen because I am free — I am free to live in the moment, free to focus my energy on what matters and spend my time with my son, and free to just be.

Thanks E for reminding me of this.

~ The Other Sarah

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Reader Comments (170)

Great post! Every bullet point seemed like you had been spying on me when my kids were smaller. Luckily they are self-sufficient in the morning now, allowing me to get a few extra winks.
Good luck
thanks for the great post

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternoone

This is my life! I laughed so loudly I got a few puzzled stares from my children. SuperMom is a dream. We are SuperMom if the dishes are done at the end of the day! haha!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermadmothermusings

SOOOOO true! In the end we are all supermoms. Our kids don't care what we look like, if we're accessorized, or know how to make beef bourguinon. They only care that we love them.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

This made me smile. I would've made a cute SuperMom. Too bad the dark circles under the eyes have set in... there's no turning back!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterracheljthomas

i love this post, i think it applies to life without kids too. i often look at people i went to school wiith when ive nipped to the supermarket in my joggies and wonder how they look so well turned out and organised, and i look like something has nested in my hair!!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertinkerbelle86

Wouldn't you love to follow the Super Moms home? Are they really happy? Good for you for accepting reality, Welcome to Happiness! I kind of miss the children mess I had with my little boys, they are both off to college...

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvie Garone

As her daughter, friend, and "personal rockstar" to my mother, I grew up everyday realising I could not have asked for better parents, especially a better mother. Well, I've never told her that, yet, but yes, in my eyes, and perception, she is my wonder woman who juggles everything between work and me; my perpetual peacekeeper between papa and I during our silly, mini arguements or political debates, well, in short, she really is my everything, I would say.

In a perspective of a child, now an adult, I assure you, despite all the weight gain, lack of hairstyling, minimal sleep and jeans repetitions , you'd always be THE Supermom to your son, and that is what that matters.

These days, I make time to cook for mom, take her for walks and drives and pamper her subtly with all the best of the bests that I could afford. I hope you and all mothers would get that superstar treatment, because, the fact is, among us ordinary superstars, there are unsung supermoms, and they most certainly deserve every bit of appreciation. Much love.

Have a good day =)

-bev, who happened to cruise by your blog and look forward to drop by again-

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbev

The Other Sarah: I don't have children, but as a recording artist in the public eye I have people expecting me to be just like your description of what a Supermom is. I enjoyed your post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, you should feel like a Supermom now!!



February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAva Aston's Muckery

Life is always better when we enjoy it, instead to trying not to be who we are. It is in our DNA - we do not become like our mothers or fathers. We are already our parents. It is in our genes.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEells Consulting

Great post, and congrats on being FPed! I blogged recently about my Superwoman complex too (http://iamanoverachiever.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/welcome-to-my-blog/).

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmara Levine-Reich

"...and has children that emit sunshine" Mwahahahahaha!

Thank you for this post - I too look at those perfectly made up mommies who jog past me effortlessly while pushing their smiling/sleeping infant in their designer stroller and wonder what it is they know that I don't.

It's almost 7 months on and I am still wearing maternity pants, cant find time to put on makeup and feed my kids food out of jars because I dont know how you can get home from work at 6 and have 2 separate meals made and eaten in 30 minutes or under.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterintermittentblogger

Awesome post! Ditto! My kids and hubby come first and all the fluff and "productivity" second. Somehow, once I give in to that reality, all the articles get written anyway, but without sacrificing our beautiful family time!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Gluck

I'm not a mother yet, but I enjoyed reading this and will share with my other friends who are moms.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermagnetforfoolishness

I can totally relate. :)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryoungmomat23

As I was reading this post, I realized I was letting out a long sigh of relief, and smiling my first smile of the day - You Get It! And, I'm not alone! Thank you for sharing :)

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOne Cocktail Away

Sarah.... Great post! I totally get it. When my oldest was first born, 18 years ago, I couldn't even find time to shave my legs! To me it was a symbol of the utter in-humanity of it all. After baby number two, 15 years ago, it got so much easier. I became totally confident and completely grew into my role as mother, and flourished. With my son heading off to college in the fall, I would gladly go back and re-live every rocky wonderful moment. Enjoy your time, be in the moment and create meaningful memories. You're going to be great! Vanessa, the More is More Mom

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

You sound like Wonder Woman wearing bracelets....or are they shackles...
Everyone has been where you are if they have had a career and children. The coiffed super mom is as fake as her Juicy couture knock -offs. I raised two babes, one in NYC and the other in LA, two of the most fashionable cities in the country...I wore levi's and loafers w/o socks and Raybans to hide the lack of glow...Twenty years later I look and feel great, sans Botox, and still a size 2. If you really want to feel assured, watch he reality housewives shows....it's like The Portrait of Dorian Grey has come alive......with the help of a plastic surgeon....
Spread the humor: charlywalker.wordpress.com

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercharlywalker

Ditto!! It must be a trend cuz I had the same feelings on my post LOL!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkaymac13

Being the perfect mom is overrated. I always say though it gets easier as the kids get older and become more self sufficient and independent. It's tough when they are little and you're at their beck and call 24/7. Sometimes moms think they can do everything and they can't . Like try to get a makeover while your 3 yr old tears apart the counter and out of control. I say wait until someone can watch your kid so you can relax and not cause an accident. Don't try to do it all.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermakingup3000

Thank you to everyone — our readers, other bloggers, and the WordPress community! We are new to this blogging endeavor, so to say that we were surprised about being Freshly Pressed is an understatment! We are overwhelmed and energized by the outpouring of support. We've laughed, nodded our heads in agreement, and smiled a lot as we read your comments today. We hope you continue to drop by and read about all that is salty and sweet in our lives, and in turn we hope we continue to write something you enjoy reading with your morning cup of coffee, over lunch, or when you're procrastinating before hitting the hay.

~ Sarah and Sarah, Salt & Nectar

PS - We can't wait to explore the many new blogs we learned about, too. Thanks again for the inspiration.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersaltandnectar

You have described my life. Down to the snacks you give your son to the daily pony tail. Thank you for helping me feel a little better about my imperfections - and why it's all worth it!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I LOVE this! Thank you for your honesty. Can you imagine how much easier this journey would be if we would all just be real, and stop trying to achieve perfection? Everyone else is just faking perfection, anyway! That would really take the pressure off!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

You manage to have dinner parties? Wow, that's super.

Great blog, congratulations on freshly pressed.

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

Great post....I feel the axact same way. so funny!

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercountoncross

You tell it how it is.... just remember... sleep deprivation does not go on forever... they do grow.... and so much faster than you could envision now...

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterI Made You A Mixtape

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