Forget "Super Mom" . . . I’d Be Happy with "Mediocre Mom"

After Boys #1 and #2 were born, I went back to working full-time. For a year and a half, I even left my house at 5:00 am so I could drive an hour and start working at 6:00. That way I could get off at 3:00 and be home by a little after 4:00. Whew!

My middle sister watched the boys for me until they were old enough to go to school, and even then she would help me take and/or pick up her nephews. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

Was my house always clean at the time? Definitely not. Did we always have the laundry caught up? Heck no! But at least I had an excuse (or so I thought): I work full-time away from home.

After getting pregnant with Boy #3, I had a bit of what we’ll refer to as a “freak-out” as the thought of working full-time seemed a bit too much for this mom to handle. I knew other moms did it all the time, and did it well. But I also knew I was not “that mom.”

So I worked at a more flexible job as a freelance writer for a marketing agency. I went in to the office most days, and some weeks I worked more than 40 hours, but at least I could go in the evenings or work at home if I needed to. It was better, most of the time.

Fast-forward two years and the agency I was working for decided to close up shop. Fortunately, the company I previously worked for full-time was looking to hire for the same position I had held, only part-time. Perfect. I started out committing to 32 hours a week. Less than 40 but enough to make it worth my while to drive there four days a week. I could do it, I reasoned. After all, my kids were all older now. I had officially been a parent for nearly a decade. I had it under control, right?

Uh, right . . .

I started finding it harder and harder to make 32 hours a week . . . then 20 hours . . . and now I’m struggling to show my face in the office 15 hours each week. Between sick kids, inservice days, and staggered elementary and middle school schedules, it seems that I’m always having to juggle my work schedule to be there for my kids.

Take this week, for instance. I’m on Day 2 of Operation Home With Kids after Boys #1 and #2 both sustained injuries at baseball on Sunday. (If you haven’t already, read why I feel guilty about this.)

Okay, so I’ve been home for two days, and the kids aren’t sick enough to be needing constant attention. I should be able to handle my mom duties, right? I should be able to do everything those “Super Moms” I envy do every day when they’re home with their kids.

But, alas. Weigh, if you will, the evidence: laundry is still stacked halfway to the ceiling in our bathroom, two of the boys have been in their underwear for two days (yep, the same pair), and Boy #3’s main food groups today have been “chocolate” and “peanut butter.”

I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will never be “Super Mom,” but at this point I’m thinking that “Mediocre Mom” or “Hasn’t-Gotten-Her-Children-Taken-Away-Yet Mom” is looking like a lofty goal.

So, is it me? Is it just my personality, or is it something more? Can I blame it on the fact that I’m closer to 40 than 30? Can I blame it on my dilapidated thyroid, or my self-diagnosed ADD? Or should I just quit looking for excuses, suck it up, and try harder? Does everyone else find parenting this hard, or I am just too darn tired?

And if you are one of those “Super Moms,” could you tell me how you do it? (In an effort to be nondiscriminatory, this blog will accept advice both of the legal and illegal kind.) Thank you.

Cute image courtesy of mommytrack’d

11 thoughts on “Forget "Super Mom" . . . I’d Be Happy with "Mediocre Mom"”

  1. I would like to let you know that SuperMoms are a myth and do not exist. Really.
    I think that our society has put an unhealthy amount of pressure on mothers to over-mother. If you haven't bought that "My Baby Can Read" program, prepared mini-sandwiches as snack for son's soccer game painted black and white and with organic food coloring, used constuctive discipline at all times using some sort of "feelings chair," and passed through about 1000 more insane hurdles, then you are a bad parent. This, then, includes every parent. I think what we all need to do is get our confidence back and stop letting society govern how we feel about our parenting skills. Why fix what was never broken? We always hear about "the Greatest Generation," and their parents didn't think twice about parenting. The child got what the parents had the time/resources to give or felt like giving, and that was good enough. If the child was bored, they entertained themselves, or just stayed bored, their choice. If they were sheltered and fed and over the age of 2, they had to work around the house. If they didn't like it, they had to go get a switch from the tree. This type of parenting worked fine for centuries and produced respectful, loving, productive, resourceful and responsible adults. Those mothers would have laughed hysterically at a "feelings chair". I won't be using a switch, but I am certainly not using a feelings chair, either! So, the point of this LONG comment is to tell you that we all second guess, but we all just need to relax. If you love your kids and provide them with the basic necessities of life, then you are doing just fine! Not everthing has to be educational. Not everything has to be G-rated. Not everything has to be pretty, sanitized, 100% whole grain, saved in archival paper, hung neatly on hooks, kept at the proper temperature at all times, or nice. Just let it be, sista! Oh, and get some confidence quick, because children can smell fear:)

  2. I don't want to be friends with anyone who claims to be a SuperMom. It's hard juggling it all. Balance is the hardest part about being a mom, I think. We all have days, weeks, months where we feel overwhelmed. I'm having one right now.

  3. Turkeypants, I LOVE your reference to "My Baby Can Read." My #1 and I laugh at that commercial every time it's on. So what if you DO teach your baby to read? What does it get you? It's not like you are going to send your baby to kindergarten at age two just because he can read! And I'm pretty sure it's in the laws of nature that pottytraining should come BEFORE reading. But, what do I know? The thought of a baby pooping in his diapers while reading a Toni Morrison novel (or even "Junie B. Jones") just creeps me out.
    Paula, STOP IT. With all the time you spend beating yourself up, you could have your laundry done 1000 times over. You don't need to ask for help with this stuff, you need to EXPECT and DEMAND it. Your #1 is perfectly capable of doing some laundry. Your #s one and two can help with dishes EVERY night, as long as they're home. And #3 can do a lot too. And when it's expected on a regular basis, I've found the complaints greatly decrease! For instance, as for dinner, NO ONE leaves the kitchen until the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean again. NO ONE. Sometimes I have to remind people of this rule, but that's the way it is. I WILL NOT work in the kitchen while the rest of my family relaxes after dinner watching TV shows that I love too. But I've also learned that if I leave the kitchen and relax, I won't do the dishes either because I'll get tired! So, the cleanup is just part of the meal. And I don't believe in chore charts so much! I believe more in, "It's just your responsibility for living here like the rest of us, so just shut up and do your jobs" philosophy. Sometimes keeping up with the chore chart is more work than just doing the job.
    As for laundry, the only thing that works for me is having set days I MUST do laundry (Sun. & Thurs.), or else it would never get done either. You might need 3 days a week since your brood is larger, but that's where your #1 can help you too. Basically, we have to have set days for nearly EVERYTHING in our house (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, getting groceries, etc.) to get these things done. How do I know this works? Because the things I DON'T have a scheduled day for (washing floors, dusting, etc.) NEVER get done! Of course sometimes you get busy and don't get something done on the exact day you wanted, but you find a time soonafter to get it done so you "stay on track."
    This probably isn't what you want to hear, but you asked so here's my advice. Stop concentrating on what you think you're not doing and instead just do something (remember your "done" list?). Make a plan TOGETHER and stick to it. Your house doesn't have to be PERFECT. But having it in a state where you feel it is "decent" on a regular basis does WONDERS for the anxiety levels. Trust me! And you know my girls have been cleaning their own bathroom for years. (I'm not trying to brag, I'm trying to illustrate how much your kids can do too.) Is it perfect? No way. Do I have to go in there every month or so and do damage control on it when they're not looking? Yes. Do they HATE it? Hell yes! But they also are learning it's a part of life, and that THEY are responsible for their messes just as the rest of us are. They stopped complaining about it long ago because they realized their complaints were falling on deaf ears.
    Sorry this is so long; I'm just trying to show up Turkeypants, being the overachiever that I am…ha! ha! Really, you know I love you and worry about you and feel bad for how hard you are on yourself. So just STOP, and become the person/mom you want to be! No one is stopping you!

  4. Might I suggest in addition to the chocolate and peanut butter diet you add pizza. Pizza is natures four food group package and when this dad cooks, he dials…

    LOVE your banner!

  5. Yeah, I'm not as disciplined as momof2dancers. We both know her house looks better:) But I use a different cleaning approach that I will actually stick to. I have a fear of commitment, and having set days for everything gives me hives. Thursday is my 1 cleaning day. I start at the top left of my house and work all the way down. Work as fast as you can. I even time myself (yes, it still works for me:) First I pick up clutter and put stuff away, working all the way through the house. If the kids are here, they do their own room. They hate it and I have to threaten them a lot, but it gets done. Then I pick a new area each week to deep-clean and spend an extra 30-45 minutes on, such as bathrooms, bedrooms, whatever. (Sometimes I don't do that, and so what.) The key is to work FAST and don't worry if it isn't perfect. If it isn't such a pain in the you-know-what, you will be more likely to keep it up. Next I do bathrooms and kitchen. Not perfect. Do a super-quick bleaching of toilets and sink/counters. SUPER quick wipe-down of shower (I mean quick!)If you miss a corner, you will probably hit it next week. Kitchen, I just bleach the sink, wipe off appliance handles if they need it, and clean out microwave (throw plate thing in dishwasher, put a pyrex cup of water on high for 3 minutes, let set 10 minutes, wipe with papertowel). Then floors, again, starting at top of house and working down. For the bathroom floors, I seriously just sweep most of the time. Sometimes I spray something on, and wipe quick with a rag using my foot to scoot it around quick. Leave the mop in the closet, too much of a pain. This has been working for me, and I can actually get my house good-enough all at once. It is no fun while I do it, but once a week isn't so bad. For laundry, I do 1 load a day. I fold it, and both the kids have to put their clothes away. They also have to pick up all of their toys in the main living areas, and their room before bed. They hate it, but if done quick every night as part of a routine, there isn't usually much to pick up. As for meals, they have to clean up their area and put all plates/silverware/cups on the counter when they are excused. And they do chores that I hate: #1 takes out, and sorts recycling, and feeds the cats. #2 throws compost into the compost pile and feeds the dog. Don't get me wrong, they throw massive fits sometimes. I adopted all of these things this summer, and my house is never spotless (ever!!) but it isn't as out-of-control as it used to be. I am not telling you this because it is the perfect way to do anything, I just know you are like me in a lot of way, so I thought this strategy (which I totally got from a Women's Day, or something) Might work for you, too. Choices are always good:)

  6. There is no such thing as supermom.

    Anyone who claims to be is: a)lying, b)delusional, or c) both.

    So, give it up and stop feeling guilty.

  7. momof2dancers: #3 is currently half-way through Twilight. He reads it while he is falling asleep in his crib. I will rent the movie for him once he is finished. When he was a littler baby and read the Harry Potter series, he liked the books better than the movie, so we'll see what he thinks. If you think this is creepy, then so be it.

  8. Thanks for all the advice (especially my sisters, who are apparently LONG-WINDED 🙂 and the pep talk… Really, it all means a lot!

  9. Folded laundry is overrated! Give yourself a pat on the back for all that you do accomplish and try to focus on what makes you happy.

  10. I agree with Deb above. Folded laundry is a waste of time. 🙂 Just pick it our from the laundry basket. Save yourself time and energy. 😉

  11. You mean we are supposed to do laundry? Maybe that's why my life is so strange…lol

    I am with your sister's on some of it. We have chores, and everyone helps. I no longer fold Hunter's laundry, and I never put away either of their laundry. Both are old enough. Boo loads and unlaods the dishwasher, takes out recycling, poop patrol etc. Hunter has stuff too, but his is different since he is gone most of the time.

    Remember that there are other people in your house that can help. You are not the only one living there. Chores are you friend…say with us now…chores are your friend.

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