If you’re a mom, I wonder what comes up for you when you hear the phrase “super mom”. How about: “Oh brother, that is definitely not me?” Or perhaps a craving to be closer to the ideal mom you think you “should” be? Or envy, frustration, or rolling of your eyes as you imagine a mom who seems to have it all together? Perhaps with other moms you like to pretend you have it all together, or you talk about the ones who do. The truth is, no mom, no woman has it “all together” and once we can be real about that, we can support each other authentically AND feel more confident about our flawed selves and imperfect parenting.
I’ve struggled on and off since childhood with the alternating wish to “be liked and looked up to” with the awareness that I wanted to “be real”. I think Motherhood brings out the best in us, but also all of our insecurities. This self-doubt can even start with pregnancy when we read books to prepare for parenting and find that “the experts” have completely opposing opinions! You quickly figure out that depending who is judging, you’ll either be a wonderful mother, or a terrible mother when you make any decision about parenting!
As a therapist and life coach, I have worked with hundreds of women who struggle with anxiety and insecurities. I see that girls often “lose their voice” or identity and confidence around middle school and a similar thing can happen with women when they become moms. They may feel confident in work and other relationships, but their sense of self can be shaken and they doubt themselves and their abilities as a mom.
Many women have sat in my office struggling with guilt and self-doubt that is exaggerated by their belief that “other moms wouldn’t do this/think that/forget things.” Critical thoughts may intrude on a peaceful day at the park: “I can’t believe I forgot to pack snacks and wipes. How could I be so stupid? I know all the other moms have their bags packed with everything they need all the time. It is probably obvious that I really don’t know what I am doing!” Or later as your kids head to school and into adolescence, you face more complicated issues and the self-doubt can continue to creep into your thoughts. Like most moms, I want to feel “all together” and look OK on the outside, but I’m also deeply drawn to reassure and encourage others that not one of us is perfect. I’m glad to share stories of how I’m certainly not and I love that there are so many books out now for moms that expose the myth of perfect parenting!
What I have learned over and over in my own life is that my identity is not made up of “what I do and what I accomplish” as much as “who I am”. It was scary, but freeing for me in high school and college to figure out who I was beyond activities, awards and achievements. The same can be true for us as parents. I invite you to consider how you can find freedom by stepping away from external measures of success and acknowledge who you are as a parent. This can be a gradual and life-long process, but you can learn to trust your instincts as a mom. We certainly need advice and support along the way, but I believe you are uniquely suited to parent and love your child.
To have more confidence, I encourage you to stop comparing yourselves to other moms. We all have our areas of strengths and struggle and if we are feeling inadequate, we often don’t know the whole story of the other mom. I invite you to recognize your strengths more than your struggles and to let go of any “shoulds” that don’t feel authentic to you! The great news is that when we relax about who we really are – imperfections and all – we feel more freedom to be the best mom we can be for our children. We can work on the areas of struggle without beating ourselves up and therefore we’ll be more calm, more authentic, and more confident.
When you think of the moms with whom you love spending time, do they exude an aloof supermom persona? Probably not! “Being real” helps us connect! It helps us get the support we need as well as offering encouragement and reassurance to other moms. My hope is that you can let go of any strong negative reactions to the word “supermom”. Instead of bringing up guilt, pressure, or resentment, perhaps it will bring a smile if it becomes something you say in fun as you lift a 3 year old high in the air, or leap for a basketball with your teen. (Feel free to put your own image here!) “I AM SUPERMOM!”
If you know you could use some help with your confidence as a mom, I’d love to connect with you! I enjoy seeing the amazing results when we as moms can shift our mindset and find calm, confidence and joy in the everyday! I hope you’ll visit http://www.themomoasis.com to watch the video and accept my free gift of The Mom Oasis Calm & Joy Kit to get you started. If you’d like to speak with me personally, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me: 978 475-1775.