Monday, October 31, 2011

The Un-Super Mom

By Jill VanHimbergen
It seems to me that there’s an awful lot of praise these days for the multi-tasker, the Super Mom, the “She does it all!” type of gal. This evolved breed of woman plunges the toilet while she breastfeeds the baby, responds to email, stirs the chili, kisses her husband and reads her four-year-old Corduroy and the New Pocket. This evolved breed of woman works full time, moms full time, presides over her local MOPS group, and hits the gym at least five times a week. In addition, this knock-your-socks-off lady gets the thank-you-notes in the mail the day after she receives the gift, immediately uploads her photos to Facebook, and throws a helluva baby shower.

I have discovered, after three years of motherhood, that I am not this “How in the world does she do it all?!” type of girl. I am more of a “Well, I guess she does the best with what she has” kind of chick. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I multitask all right. No gettin’ around that one. But things turn out kind of sloppy, mis-shapen, and misplaced when I do. Dirty diapers get thrown down the laundry chute, library books grow fees, coupons get thrown down the pit of despair that is my pantry, and sometimes, especially when headed to the zoo, I hear a little voice from the backseat say, “Mommy, are we lost or something?”

I have tried hard to evolve into the Super-Mom-She-Creature I feel that many of my peers have successfully become, but it seems that if I attempt to run an errand, have a playdate and make a meal all in the same day, I will more than likely burst into flames.

And yet something repeatedly gnaws at me to become a person I am not meant to be. This twisted inner voice that says, Oh, man, she has three kids and she organizes fundraisers for bone marrow transplants? I should do something like that. Or Oh, wow, she’s got two kids and she figures out how to shop at four different grocery stores to buy only organic and local and make five meals a week that do not include macaroni or chicken nuggets. I should buy a cookbook or something and figure out how to do that.

So, who is this little devil inside me that is repeatedly trying to convince me to bite off more than I can chew? This twisted little voice who tries to convince me to be something that I’m not? Is it my own twisted psyche? Society? Oprah?

Whatever it is, it’s time for it to shush. Somewhere along the way, I filled my giant pockets with greedy handfuls of guilt. Guilt that my house isn’t clean enough, that my kid’s birthday party isn’t cool enough, that I am not present enough, that I am not creative enough. Somewhere along the way, I got this idea that I could and should DO IT ALL.

But today, that’s changing. Today, I’m putting on a pocketless sundress and I’m skipping through my clover-filled yard to go on a bear hunt with my boys. I’m leaving the crap on the counter and the blocks on the floor. I’m making tuna melts for dinner. And I’m starting a movement.

A movement in praise of the Un-Super Mom, the mono-tasker, the “I can only handle one thing at a time!” type of gal.

The Un-Super Mom does not run the PTA, the book club, and the church youth group. The Un-Super Mom has a glass of wine in front of her DVRed shows, reads her book, and goes to bed. The Un-Super Mom does not organize the coat closet and she does not dust the ceiling fans. The Un-Super Mom takes a nap. She might even eat a clichéd bon-bon or two…or four. The Un-Super Mom does not pull her weeds. She embraces them as God’s lush, green, shrub-choking plan for her garden. The Un-Super Mom has lollipop sticks stuck to the leather seating of her car and she has—GASP!— processed foods in her pantry. The Un-Super Mom sometimes lets her kids watch more than the suggested daily hour of TV.

The Un-Super Mom is the mom who figures out how to NOT do it all, the mom who drinks her coffee and reads the newspaper and maybe stays in her pajamas a little too long. The mom who accepts the fact that she has limits. That they are unique to her. And that they are to be embraced and respected.

And to all you “Do It All” Mamas out there staying up tonight to fold laundry, check emails, and make scrapbooks? You go girls! But I’m not with you tonight. Tonight I’m gonna eat a cookie and go to bed. I’m leaving the laundry in the basket, the toy boat on the stairs, and the unopened mail on the counter. I’m emptying my pockets of all the guilt and missed expectations and I’m accepting the fact that I simply was not wired to run a fundraiser, iron shirts, or give a crap about cooking from scratch. Goodnight, scary little Martha Stewart/Oprah voice in my head. Come back when you resemble something much cooler and funnier like Gilda Radner or Tina Fey. Then, we’ll talk.

Jill is a stay-at-home mom to two boys. She is a teacher and a writer on the side and tries to fulfill these roles as often as she can (when she's not doing the very full-time work of parenting). You can read more of Jill's thoughts on motherhood on her blog: Musings on Motherhood.

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  1. THIS moved me to tears today. Seriously probably the best blog entry I have ever read in my life. It spoke to me and literally I could have been writing the entire thing. THANK YOU for this breath of fresh air!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you !

  3. Seeing as I is still in my PJs even though it is day-light-savings late -- and I NEVER stay in my PJs I might add, only because it doesn't usually work for me -- this made me smile.

    I agree with you, and I have the shelving to prove it. I am trying to process a choice I recently made to homeschool my kids when I wasn't keeping up with anything else, because I felt that any other choice (in our specific situation).

    Too much time is taken up feeling bad about doing things the best we can. Sometimes we allow those voices to be those of the women around us, much to our own loss.

    Brilliant post.


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