The Shocking Truth About Supermom
The baby is crying, the dog is barking, your husband is snoring, and you look over at the clock and realize you went to bed just five hours ago. You grab the baby; let the dog out, and sleep- walk to the coffee pot. The dishes from the night before are still piled high in the sink, and you’re out of formula for the baby. You run to the store to grab some formula, still in your slippers with a coat on to hide your pajamas. By the time you get back home, the other kids are demanding breakfast. You pour them some cereal, pack their lunches, and hurry them to the car be- cause you’re late once again to drive the car pool to school and daycare. Oh, and you’re still in your pajamas!
You arrive home and finally pour yourself that first cup of coffee. Now your husband wakes up from his restful night of sleep and is so glad you’re home for a little hanky-panky. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” you shriek. He looks at you in wonder, as if he can’t figure out why you’re never in the mood.
Does this scene sound familiar to you? It’s someone trying to be a Supermom—running around like a basket case with an endless to-do list trying to please everyone and ending up frazzled and exhausted.
Before recovery, this was my life. I wanted to do it all: be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, and the perfect employee. I wanted to live the picture-perfect Christmas-card life.
I have witnessed many mothers (including myself) fly around in the Supermom cape at speeds faster than lightning so we don’t have to stop and feel the feelings of not being enough. We often don’t stop to realize the impact our Supermom role has on our children. Not only do they grow up believing that moms must do it all, but most kids these days are over- scheduled and pulled from one place to another. They’re up at six thirty in the morning, attend school all day, and then run from piano lessons to soccer until dark. When these kids finally arrive home, they need to start their three hours of home- work. It’s no wonder our kids are stressed out, exhausted, and cranky—just like their mothers—or they, too, turn to alcohol and drugs.
Trying to do it all can literally kill us.
Oh, what a relief when I finally surrendered my Superwoman cape. It was so exhausting to be everything to everyone and no one to myself. Often we moms never make it onto our own to-do list, putting everyone else’s needs before our own, including our basic needs like food, sleep, and hygiene. I was actually quite shocked when I surrendered the cape and the world didn’t fall apart without me. It was a relief and a disappointment at the same time.
I remember one evening when my former husband and I were newly separated. Our kids were two, five, and eight. It was his night to have the kids, but I just popped by to drop off some unnecessary item I knew they couldn’t live without. (The item I was dropping off was actually my fear that they were not okay without me.) But as I entered the one- bedroom apartment I saw my former husband cooking delicious food, with music playing and my kids dancing while they set the table. I was so shocked, I had to sit down on the couch to absorb that they were all surviving without me running the show.
In recovery, one of the best things I did was to make a commitment to myself that Monday nights were all for me. The kids spent Monday nights at their dad’s house, so this was my night to say no to the rest of the world and yes to my well-being. No work, no housecleaning, no meetings, no dates, and no going out anywhere. Giving myself this time not only improved my sanity, it also benefitted my kids greatly. I was able to be more present, grounded, and calm to handle all the challenges and blessings of motherhood.
Sober Mom’s Tools to Stop Being Supermom
- Give yourself a permission slip to say no to the next ten re- quests for your time and energy.
- Take Erma Bombeck’s advice: “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out!”
- Make a list of everything you think needs to be done today and review each item, asking yourself, “Will the world fall apart if I don’t do this today?” If not, take it off your list just for today.
- Here’s your new mantra: “I have enough, I do enough, and I am enough!