Well, that’s not completely true.
My daily approach to the routine hassles of motherhood are often characterized by frenzied attempts at perfectionism, frustrated by the realities of children in oft-dirtied diapers, shedding pets, and meals to be made. There is still a large part of my heart that has a proclivity toward approval-seeking and achievement-orientation. As with any of my little or big challenges, I imagine myself being the very best mom – but the reality misses the bar.
That’s why when some well-meaning friend directs the much-hated, yet much-loved, title of “supermom” at me, instead of just taking it as a complement and moving on, I immediately think about how if they only knew how un-together I usually have it, they would never utter one word of admiration towards me again. Then, like a mantra, I rehash my undone list of things to do:
- learn how to bake bread from scratch
- give my children a bath more than twice a week (please don’t judge me!)
- clean the floor every day with a homemade cleaning solution
- actually style my hair every so often
- make seasonally-appropriate crafts with my 2 year old
- fashion curtains out of that cloth I have stashed away
And on goes the list, growing with every visit to my Pinterest account.
When someone has the gall to refer to one of my friends as a “supermom,” forget about it! My (sinful) thought process is self-defeating and goes like this: “I should be able to accomplish as much as she does; she even has a job outside the home.” Or worse, leaning toward the judgmental: “What makes her so ’super’? Her kids had Kraft dinner the other day… in front of the TV! I mean, really…”
I know. This is a problem.
Instead of delighting in the gifts and talents God has to given me and to other women, I often find myself trending toward over-active, peaceless perfectionism– striving for a tidy home, enviable culinary skills, and well-dressed, polite children. I mean, isn’t that the profile of the Proverbs 31 woman? Some perfect godly mom-transmutation of Donna Reed, Claire Huxtable, and Angelina Jolie with a dash of Martha Stewart? (No. It’s not.)
Then, amid the din of stay-at-home-motherhood, I have a brush with grace– a refreshing morning spent with a gracious friend, a particularly moving time in God’s presence, or some unlikely blessing, like slipping down the stairs and plummeting to my ankle’s doom (true story). Somehow, God gets my attention. He reminds me of the fact that I am a broken, imperfect person with messy, naughty children in a hurting, destructive world. And then he renews my conviction that we are so very loved and so completely cherished, that I can relax, breathe in his beauty, and sometimes, quite simply, put my feet up.
So, with my casted foot up, in a moment of clarity, I’ve put together a few guidelines for maintaining peace in motherhood and successfully eschewing the supermom complex.
Remember that motherhood is a calling; it is extremely difficult, and we need God’s help. When it’s 5:00 and your daughter has just dumped a large portion of dinner on the floor, breaking the bowl, and ruining the food; and you have another little one with a diaper blowout; and bonus points if you’re pregnant, don’t just “keep calm and carry on.” Run to Jesus! Ask for help, and, when necessary, forgiveness. He’s in the details. He’s with us in the mess and the stress of the witching hours. Don’t cling to yourself and your parenting prowess; cling to the cross.
Acknowledge that when we excel at something, it is at the expense of something else. My family eats at least two hot meals a day, and I rarely have a laundry pile-up, but then, my windowsills are dusty and I rarely volunteer outside the house. Even as I take the time to write this blog, my 8 month old is eating the cover of a Kurt Vonnegut book (be right back!). Listen up, this is true for everyone! No one is good at everything, and we get to choose what we will focus on and what we will let go of. The key is actually letting go and embracing our limitations.
Never demean your uniqueness in envy of others. We can learn a lot from our friends, absorbing godly characteristics, learning good habits, and picking up helpful tips, but as soon as we start filtering others’ experiences through our own insecurities, our perception is blurred. We become anxious of ourselves and begrudging toward others. The beauties of sisterhood in Christ, the delight of being God’s child become obscured and distorted when we start fixating on who are aren’t instead of on who Jesus is.
Take in the everyday joys of home and family. It has taken the handicap of a broken ankle for me to stop rushing from one task to another, and in the moments of just lazing around with my family, I’ve enjoyed so many glimpses of eternity. A pure unbridled baby’s laugh echoes of eternal joy. A torrent of toddler kisses is a rush of divine love, sent right through my little girl’s lips. Afternoon sunlight filtering through curtains speaks of joy and hope. The assurance of a strong, warm husbandly hand slipped into mine is a picture of constant faithfulness, of unconditional love. Sometimes you just need to leave the dishes (and the laundry, and the garbage, and the dust, and the unclipped coupons, and the toys strewn all over the floor) for later. When the wee ones grow big, these moments of delight are what remain, not making it through the monthly room by room deep-cleaning checklist.
At the end of the day, what will most affect the next generation is not that they had a spotless home environment, healthy homemade muffins, just the right amount of socialization with their peers, enough stimulating activities, or even an innovative system of scripture memorization and moral lessons. What matters most is that they grow up understanding the gospel, at the most basic gut level, from being with you. What they need is for us to model the fact that we are broken, injured, sinful individuals, who, despite our dysfunctionality, are loved to the utmost by a gracious, merciful God.
He is all the supermom (or superdad) our children need.
The mission of Intersection is to help our readers to see how the gospel of Jesus intersects & transforms all of life in a very real way. Our goal is to destroy the false & harmful dichotomy between 'the sacred' & 'the secular' by presenting a wide range of perspectives that focus on different aspects of life in the city. These stories, reflections, observations, & opinions all have one thing in common—the shared conviction that every arena of life can be holy & beautiful when it is lived out in full awareness of the gospel & in full submission to the leadership of Jesus. Although the Intersection team loves, values, & supports all of its contributors, the views expressed in their posts are ultimately their own & may not necessarily reflect the beliefs & values of New City Church.