I have some lovely friends who have, from time to time, also called me Supermum. And again, they mean it as a positive. A term of admiration and encouragement.
Can I let you into a little secret? Well, two actually but they're inextricably linked.
1. I hate the word. Hate it. With a firey passion. Well, at least with as much passion as I can summon for anything right now.
2. I'm not. Not in that sense anyway.
I want to say right away that I love the people who use it. They are good people, who see into my life and want to applaud me for what I'm doing. We all need a cheerleading squad from time to time. Even if you know what you're doing and why, there are still going to be hard times and moments of doubt when you need someone else's reassurance.
The problem I have is the separation. The notion that 'she', whoever she happens to be that day, is Supermum or Superwoman. She has something that sets her apart, something I don't have. She is more than I am. She is better than me. It separates us when I think of her as 'Super' because the corollary is that I am ordinary (no capital letter for me).
The reality is that each one of us is an individual, creating our individual families in the best way we know how. I am the only wife of my husband and the only mother to my children. I was purpose designed to love and serve them at this time and in my own, unique way. No one else can do precisely what I can do. And the same goes for you.
I have some internet friends. Even my husband finds this a bit weird but stick with me. Somehow, over social media, having only ever met 3 of them in real life, I have managed to evolve a community of mutual support and reassurance.
One of them has just become a mummy for the second time. She worries about doing the best for her boys. What she doesn't see is that she bakes yummy treats and creates fun crafts with them more than I ever have with my two.
One of them worries about her son's eating and sleeping. And yet she's managed to make something by hand for every baby she knows that was born in 2013.
One of them has just moved house and I cannot believe the speed at which she and her husband have tweaked the decoration to be just to their liking. (Also, I'm jealous of her table-setting arrangements, it's a gift, I swear!)
One of them is a babywearer; I (and my back) salute her. She gets herself and her two girls out of the house every day (weather permitting).
There are more examples. Examples of how doing what comes naturally is creating a beautiful lives for them and their children. Of choosing the best thing for them, at that time and place.
That's the positives. So here comes the balance. My confessions.
- I love to cook, especially savoury food but in some seasons, the idea of deciding what to feed my family every night wears on me. And the children have chicken nuggets again.
- I don't see the point of children's crafts. It seems like a waste of materials to me. So I also can't throw away anything that the children have made.
- I don't clean. I vacuum only when the carpet is crunchy. I recently cleaned my sink for the first time in months. I wiped down some mirrors about a month ago and was astonished at how clear the reflections could be.
- I don't exercise. Really, honestly. I walk around at work, I push a buggy around the shops and I occasionally go swimming with my family. But I live in a village so I jump in the car for almost every trip we make, including taking my son to pre-school.
- I have piles of organised chaos all over my house and garage. They never quite make it all the way to wherever it is that they are supposed to be going.
- I wash our clothes when we start running out of things to wear. And then take 3 days to get things folded and another day to actually put them back into drawers.
I could go on. And on. And on.
The reality is that I cannot do everything and that actually I don't want to. So I choose the essentials (for example getting carbs, protein and vegetables into my children, having clean clothes to put on them most days) and the things that make my heart sing (taking photos, documenting our lives, reading, laughing with my children, sitting quietly with my husband) and I try my hardest to let the rest of it go. That's the limit of my abilities right now. And every single person I know is doing exactly the same.
Supermum doesn't exist. She's a myth. She has no special powers or abilities. She's a mirage.
Reality is a lot more reassuring. Supermum is me and you and your friend next door and your work colleague and your sister. She loves her children and tries her best. At the end of the day, that's all anyone could or should ask.