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.
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.
And those are the minor sins. 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 have matching dresses, socks, and hair ribbons we'll be motherhood failures looked down on by every other woman? Why do we define our worth by whether or not anyone ever nominates us for supermom?
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.
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 kids 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.
They 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.
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.