Monday, October 7, 2013

The Supermom Conundrum

I like to people watch. I observe, question, ponder and yes, I'll admit, sometimes judge. As I've matured (haha, yes, I have, even if it's just a tiny bit) over the years, my analysis of people has changed. For example, when I was a waitress many many years ago, I used to judge the parents that would bring their children in and allow them to be noisy or messy. It used to frustrate me and I would swear to myself that I would NEVER let my children act like that. Now, when I'm out and I see that kind of a family dynamic at a restaurant, as long as the kids aren't saying disrespectful things or throwing food in my direction, I'll usually ignore it. If I see one of those kids crying or acting difficult, I look to the mom to see how she's reacting. More often than not, there's a look of desperation as she pleads with the child to just be quiet for 10 more minutes. If she looks my way, I shoot her a knowing smile of encouragement. I know what it is like to be in her shoes. Her child acting up is not necessarily a reflection of her parenting. Sometimes kids can be stinkers! And I had to eat my words and judgements. More often than not, my kids ARE the noisy kids in the restaurant. We ARE the ones leaving the Chinese restaurant with more rice on the floor than in our bellies. Or greasy finger prints on the windows. Or drinks spilled all over the table. It happens. I've learned to pick my battles. And to learn quick math so we can figure out the tip as quickly as possible and run fast so we don't have to endure another defeated look from the poor waitress. 

I think that women are each other's toughest critics and so far, in my 28 years, I feel that the two ways we judge each other the harshest is in our appearances and in our children. I see it everywhere I go. And I feel it. I'm not perfect and although I'm not proud of it, I'll confess that I criticize or feel pride. My oldest daughter is in kindergarten now. A friend was telling me that her own daughter, also in kindergarten, kept getting in trouble for talking too much. I can remember thinking, "I'm so proud of Alex for being wise enough to not be a talker." About a week later, I'm talking to Alex's teacher during our parent/teacher conference and she informs me that Alex can be a bit bossy with the other kids. Oops. I have no idea where she got that from... 

Since I had baby #4, I started working out at the gym 4-6 days a week and with a personal trainer. My first thought, while getting the tour from the gym manager (who was a walking cliche... You know, great smile, winning personality, handsome, muscles everywhere... Not trying to be mean. He seems like a super great guy. But come on... Of course they send the young mom questioning a gym membership to HIM...)  was "Why do all the men have no arm hair???" My second thought was, "Guess I'm going to have to buy a couple neon colored spandex outfits if I'm going to fit in with these other women." I didn't start working out to be skinny. I want to be healthy. My desire to work out was more of a need to work on my mental health (let's be honest, postpartum can stink!) than a desire to look like Barbie. Sure, the weightloss and toning has been a great side affect but I still feel like I'm in some kind of weird competition that I have no desire to be a part of. I'll be standing in line behind these other women to pick up my kids from the day care and I'm stuck behind women that look like they could be models. Who looks that good when they're done working out? Seriously? I don't!!! And for real, what's up with these skinny chicks that come in and pretty much hang out for an hour and do almost no exercise but still look awesome? I'm standing here breathing like a Saint Bernard that ran a marathon, sweating like a grown man who's been digging holes in the clay dirt during a Georgia summer. And I might have forgotten to put deodorant on...again... But I'll get comments from women when they see how old my baby is about how they wish they could look as good as me this soon after having a fourth baby. I say thank you, but I'm really thinking "You'd think otherwise if I was standing here in my underwear." 

We all do it. We all criticize and judge, even if we're doing it to ourselves because we wish we looked different. Or that our kids were smarter. Or that they were the star of the soccer team. Or any number of other silly standards we try to measure each other and ourselves with. 

When I started this blog, I thought I wanted to be a Supermom. I wanted to be one because I thought I wasn't one. Truth is, I am. And most likely, so are you (if you're a mom reading this...). I used to believe that there was a specific guideline or list of qualifications that measured what a Supermom was: her home was always clean, he kids were always well behaved, her husband was alway happy, she was skinny but an awesome cook, her appearance was impeccable, her dogs could get drinks from the fridge, and she could multi task like a champ. I do know some women who are this seemingly perfect. On the outside, they have it all together. But on the inside, they're a mess. They're relationships are superficial. Their children don't have fun. Their husbands are happy...when they're not at home. I don't want to be like that. My house is a mess. I have no idea what we're going to eat for dinner. I'm not even going to start describing the mountain of laundry sitting in the hall upstairs. I haven't showered yet and am still covered in an hour and half of sweat from my workout this morning. There's a fruit fly that's been in my house so long, I'm contemplating giving him a name and welcoming him into the family... But my husband is happy and dying to come home from the project he's on (and missing my cooking too... Yup, tooting my own horn a little). My kids are loved and they know it. They're happy. I don't feel the unrealistic pressure to be something that I'm not. Sure, there's always room for improvement but figuring out what to improve on is the key. 

My hope is that other mothers understand this too. This goofy pedestal that we place some women on but won't allow ourselves to consider coming near needs to be taken down and burned. It is time to stand together, encouraging one another, enjoying learning from others, sharing our own knowledge and enjoying our roles as moms. 

All that being said, I'm happy to be back. I hope that you'll continue to join me on my own adventure as A Wannabe Supermom. (Did anyone else read "A Wannabe Supermom" in a cool cartoon narrator voice or was that just me?) 

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