I’ll never be mistaken for supermom. Don’t believe me? I submit to you Exhibits 1 and 2.
If that doesn’t convince you, how about the fact that my son went to preschool yesterday in his pajamas or my daughter has only done her homework once this week? These might add to my case. I’m in no way supermom, but I’ve realized recently that I don’t have to be. Let me tell you why…
Last week, I sat in the carpool line drinking in the sun as it reflected off the sea of minivans. Why? Well, it was my version of a little vacation as I waited for my daughter Isabella to skip out of school with a smile on her face. I was actually excited to hear her nonstop chatter about what she did in PE, who she played with, and what Susan B. Anthony did a hundred years ago. I’m a newly back-to-work mom so I don’t get the chance to pick my kids up in carpool anymore and hear their incessant ramblings about their little world. And I miss it.
So, windows down and radio up, I checked out the other moms hanging around the school. I watched as moms in tennis skirts, jeans and business suits walked through the parking lot, their busy hands carrying projects, backpacks, and sometimes their children. I felt a pang of jealousy as I realized they looked a little like supermoms from the planet Pinterest. I glanced at myself in the mirror and saw something different. No projects from Pinterest, no backpacks, no tennis skirt — just my own imperfections and holes. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s definitely not supermom! It’s just me full of holes.
Frustrated, I put my sunglasses on in order to be incognito and lay back in my seat. I thought about the weekend when my daughter crashed her bike and needed stitches. I remembered the nurse who didn’t mention the gaping wound, puddle of blood or how a “good” mom would have prevented the accident. Instead, she talked to us about school, dance class and her own kids. Before we knew it, she had talked us right out of our fear.
I thought of all the field trips and school parties I missed this year due to work and how my son’s teacher had been kind enough to send me pictures of his school birthday party while I was teaching at my own school.
Last week at the park when my son skinned his knee, I remembered digging through my purse, frantically searching for a magic Band-Aid but instead finding loose change and an open tube of lipstick. Suddenly, another mom swooped down with a Band-Aid in hand. The instant I saw her face, I knew she had seen my holes but she never even flinched.
I was definitely not going to be mistaken for supermom anytime soon. Or was I?
I thought of those imperfect moments and realized 1) I had survived them all without totally messing up my kids, and 2) all of my imperfections and holes had been filled by other moms when I really needed them. I had never once asked for help, but all those moms had seen my holes and hadn’t judged me. They had helped me. Now, I’m not so naïve that I haven’t noticed “the look” I get from some moms when my son runs through the grocery store belting out “This Girl is on Fire,” but those moms are rare. Besides, it only takes one — one mom with one act of kindness to remind us we’re okay, holes and all.
As the bell rang, I watched my girl skip down the sidewalk toward my car, her heavy backpack pulling her down like gravity. I looked in my rearview mirror, admiring the twisting line of minivans and SUVs behind me and I felt grateful for all those moms. I wanted to thank the nurse who talked me out of complete panic over stitches, the mom with the magic Band-Aid and all of you out there who just read my words and shook your heads because you got it. Every day, you fill my holes. Every day you make me a better mom and my kids better people. See this picture below? This is what you deliberate moms and your kindness have helped me cultivate.
Amazing, right? And in return for helping me fill my holes, I promise to try to fill your holes too. I promise if I ever see your kids crying at school over losing a friend, losing their homework or missing their mom, I’ll smile, pat their backs and be their mom for just a moment. I promise when I see that spark of confidence flickering in their eyes, I’ll recognize it and nurture it. I promise if I see you in the Target checkout line and your child is having a complete meltdown over the little carton of Goldfish, I won’t judge you. I’ll smile at you with that knowing look because I’ve been there too many times to count. I promise as a mother, I’ll walk beside you, even if I don’t know you, because no matter how much we pretend to know what we’re doing, most of us are figuring out life as we go. We’re just learning to become supermoms– holes and all.
CHALLENGE: When you find yourself in an “imperfect moment,” notice the moms who help.
QUESTION: How can you help other moms reach their “supermom” potential?
Images provided by Amy Fonseca.
I love this article SO much! I too have had Moms who have filled my holes and I hope I have filled a few too. We need to help each other and not judge because we are all doing the best we can!
Made me cry. Lovely
Amy Fonseca says
Thanks so much for reading! @ Cheryl, you are so right! I truly believe in the power of kindness- to ourselves and others. While stereotypical “mom-competitions” may make the headlines, they don’t tell the all of our story. They leave out the fact that moms support each other in good and bad times, take care of each other (even if we’re strangers), and fill each other up when we think it’s not even possible. And to me, it’s one most powerful parts of the journey.
Something my mom once said has changed how I pray about my motherhood. I ask for God to send people to fill in the gaps I have as a mother. Relatives, teachers, coaches, church leaders, they can all fill in the gaps. We will inevitably fail at different aspects of parenting. To keep myself from beating myself up about it when I fail them I take to praying this. I love this article for the reminder that sometimes mothers fill in the gaps for each other. It is wonderful.
It’s articles like this that give us permission as mothers to let go of the Supermom stereotype. The true supermom DOESN’T exist – some moms are still trying to keep up the charade, but most of us are finally admitting that we CAN’T do it all, and the more we do that, the more acceptance we give each other to be the best mothers WE can be rather than living up to some unrealistic ideal, the better mothers we will be, because we won’t be weighed down by the shame of “should-have-dones,” and the feeling of not being good enough. We ARE good enough. We are enough. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. It has a lot in there about this type of thing. You have opened yourself up and been vulnerable to us, your readers. In response, now we can be more forgiving of ourselves. Thank you for spreading the positive message of acceptance!! 🙂
Amy Fonseca says
Thank you Emily and Steph for reading! I think your comments are right on point. @ Emily- what a wise mom you have! I wish I had known about the “filling the gaps” concept when my children were younger but I guess we learn in our own time:) @Steph, I love Brene’ Brown and “Daring Greatly!” The book has had a major influence on the way I look at shame, vulnerability, guilt and being a mom.
This is beautiful! I’ve been lucky to be blessed with many moms filling in my holes. I also must say, I literally LOL at the part about your son belting out, “This girl is on fire!” That is so totally my three-year-old son!
Amy Fonseca says
@Amy. Thank you! That is so funny about your son. My son was four when I wrote this and he sang it all the time!
Robyn Pacey says
It’s like that old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Competitive super-mom-wannabes are hurting themselves in the long run, I think. We, as moms, all have to be there for each other, even if it’s just that knowing look in a grocery store or a spare band-aid. Between us all we should be able to get it all covered. 🙂
I love it! I am the Band-aid mom. I even have multiple prints and antibiotic in my purse at all times. I also rarely have a diaper or wipes when I need them. Thank heavens for moms who always have diapers and wipes to spare!
Amy Fonseca says
@ Emily, Hooray for band-aid moms! I’m officially saying “thank you” from all the moms like me who can never find one.
@Robyn- I agree. When we compare ourselves to others, someone always loses. I’m voting we stop comparing/judging and start supporting each other instead!