Monday, January 10, 2011

Super Mom? Not a chance.

I was "challenged" by another stay at home, homeschooling mom the other day. I read her post and it made me think about this obsession our society has with the idea of "Super Mom." So, here's my answer to her challenge:

Our past is made up of women who made homes from houses, careers from families and memories from lives. Today, many women think little about what has been sacrificed to allow us the choices we have today. The choices to have a full time career. To have a family AND work. To be a stay at home mom. To not have children at all, by CHOICE, rather than just because their (or their husband's) biology made it so. And so many other things.

We often take for granted the ease with which our lives are lived now. We have technology and machines which have afforded us a luxury that our "foremothers" did not have. We cook meals without having to load a stove with firewood. We keep large quantities of perishable foods for extended periods of time without fear of spoilage. We are able to obtain massive quantities of foods from all over the world in one location, without having to physically labor to obtain them (aside from pushing a cart).Our valuable memories are captured and stored with ease in digital form. Our clothes are cleaned with only minutes of "hands on" time spent on our part. We travel great distances with ease - not only physically, but virtually to stay in contact with our extended families. We survive pregnancies and child birth, with ease and little pain (should that be our choice) that would have previously killed us and likely our unborn children only 50 to 100 years ago. We exercise daily many "rights" and freedoms that even our mothers did not have available to them.

I often think of what the women of even my grandmothers' generation had to do in daily life compared to what I "have" do. Once I start down that path, my mind skips back in time, generation after generation, back as far as I can trace my ancestry - currently that's back to about the 1100's, maybe slightly earlier. When I do this I realize how much luxury I have - not in terms of things, but in terms of time.

As I sit here, NOT washing clothes by hand, NOT cooking over a wood-fired stove, NOT worrying that the last of my beef, eggs or produce are rotting because I've had them more than a day, and so many other things, which are considered "mundane," I am grateful for the sacrifices of my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and so on back down the line into history. These women, and countless others like them, worked hard, gave of themselves without hesitation, and did what they needed to do, without asking anything in return.

I'm reminded that in exchange for the sacrifices of our grandmothers, we ask more, and do less than they ever did. Don't get me wrong - our lives are truly busy. But the physical demands of us are FAR fewer than that of generations past. And, I'm not knocking moms who balance full-time careers AND families. But, for any of us, we modern-day moms, to call ourselves or anyone we know, a "Super Mom" is, I dare say, an affront to our grandmothers and all those who came before them.

The closest thing to a super mom that I've see which exists in "our" modern world would be that of the Amish. I'm intentionally not including in this moms in what are referred to as "3rd world countries" because they don't have the access to the technologies that I listed above. This doesn't mean they're NOT "Super Moms" by any stretch, but it's comparing apples to oranges. Don't think I'm "devaluing" women who think they are "Super Moms" for a minute. All I'm saying, is look back at your family tree and think about what the women had to do in their lives compared to what you do... can you measure up?

Don't despair! Look at the luxury of time that you've been given - even if you are busy. Don't miss what's happening around you every day in your quest to be "Super Mom." Recognize and accept that being a GOOD mom, or even a great mom, does NOT mean you have to be a "Super Mom." Being a good or even a great mom is simple. It means loving your children, encouraging them and accepting them for all they are, despite how much they may drive you to the brink of insanity and back every day. It means when they don't do things your way, that allowing and encouraging them to find their own way is what it's all about.

A great story that was shared with me once was this - A woman and her friend were talking one afternoon. The woman's child was insistent upon showing the woman things - to the point of interrupting the woman's conversation with her friend. Unlike many moms, this one would routinely stop her discussion and let her child show her what was so interesting. The friend finally said, "why do you let your child keep interrupting us?" The woman replied, "our children don't ask to be brought into the world. The least we can do is let them show it to us."

So, don't worry about being a "Super Mom." Don't even worry about being a good or a great mom. Just let your child show you the world.

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