31 August 2007

Thoughts on so-called "Supermoms"

I just read a blog from one of Jen's September Sunbeams group - Emily (hi! we've never met...) - and it got me to thinking about the misperception so many have today about that seemingly allusive title. What IS a "supermom"? Is it Martha Stewart on steroids? Is it the hair-in-place, slim, financially successful wife and mommy who seems to always be about 10 paces ahead of everyone else?

It is so easy to be fooled into thinking we should be something we are not. I'm all for self-improvement, but what exactly are we trying to improve? Our parenting skills or our image (how others perceive us)? I challenge you to examine WHY you do things and how it stacks up against the so-called "supermoms" of the world.

From the day our litt'l darlin's are born, basically, we are working to let them go. This is a hard truth. But think about it - the reality is we are given 18 years (if we are lucky) to supply a child (hopefully with the help and support of a loving husband) with everything he or she needs to function as a responsible, conscientious member of the human race. This entails doing seemingly UN-supermom-like things such as
  1. saying "NO" when necessary. Children actually feel more secure and confident within themselves and their families when they know there are limits. The same limits that sometimes spoils their fun are the same limits that also keep the family unit safe, couples committed, etc.
  2. knowing that stretch marks are our badge of honor.
  3. recognizing that giving your children "the best" of everything is counter-productive. Always insisting on "the best" creates unrealistic expectations of what real life will be like and creates the "me first" monster. You want to DO your best, but when it comes to things or experiences, "the best" can do more harm than good
  4. recognizing that how your child perceives you is way more important than how your friends perceive you. Your children watch you, they mimic you - your actions either build character or tear it down so choose wisely. If you want to be remembered as the mom who was beautiful, slim and popular, you'll miss the boat on things like instilling personal self-worth, self-control, fiscal responsibility, integrity, character.
  5. other than sex, if you don't want them to do it, you shouldn't be doing it either. The "do as I say, not as I do" mentality is called "Congress", not "successful family life". :)
  6. realizing that life is not perfect and your children shouldn't think and then expect it to be perfect. Life is dirty, life is messy - if you are truly LIVING! Things break, hair turns grey, paunches develop, we get tired, we run out of money, we run out of patience - don't whitewash reality because you're just setting your kids up for a fall. Then when reality hits them in the face, they respond with dangerous behaviors
  7. accepting that we have flaws, our children have flaws, our husbands have flaws and our marriages have flaws. We have to get over it and learn to work with what we have and build on that.
  8. giving your children opportunities for growth without you, hard as it is. We want our children to need us, to love us, to want to be with us. But you can overdo that to the point where you will be mommy for all their life and they can't make their own decisions or take actions without your approval. They need to become independent.
  9. letting your kids make mistakes. Now I'm not talking about running naked in the streets or not using a helmet. I'm talking about things like letting them run out of money and not bailing them out - letting them hurt for their actions, let them know there are consequences for their decisions, be they good or bad
  10. recognizing that "keeping up with the Jones'" could also mean putting your children in the same detox center. Keep up with your ideals and your spiritual goals, not the neighbors
Well, I didn't intend for this to become a sermon on how to raise kids, but my blood boils when I see women beat themselves up because they think they aren't a "super-mom". Your family is a garden - it has to be tended, nurtured, pruned - and sometimes some manure has to be thrown on to make the growth better. But when harvest time comes, then you can look back and say, "I did pretty good - I have responsible adult children" and you will truly know what it is to be a super-mom in the best sense of the word.

And what you need from your friends is good advice, commiseration, empathy, encouragement - not envy. So go out there and be REAL super-moms!


rebekca said...

Preach it "mom lady". Preach it.

You are empowering many with your words of wisdom!

emily said...

Beautifully written! You are so right. Even while writing my Supermom post I was thinking - "my girls are well-behaved (well the first one is anyway), respectful, polite, love everyone, share, and most of all - the do NOT have seperation anxiety or fear of new situations"... I must be doing something right!

Boundaries and consistency are so important to our lives and to my sanity! Consistency is so hard to maintain but so worth it.

Thank you for stopping by and for responding with this lovely post.