The baby wakes me early to nurse, and as I snuggle him close in the stillness of the morning, I grab my phone. I quickly scroll through Instagram and my eyes are drawn to one of my friend’s latest pictures. Her daughter is always dressed in adorable boutique outfits, complete with matching glittering hairbows and the cutest mocassins you’ve ever seen.
I sigh inside. I think of my own tiny daughters and how they went to bed in the same outfit they’d worn since, oh, two days ago. Their unwashed hair was pulled into a rough ponytail that they had done themselves. Their faces were still streaked with the dirt of a full day of play.
I forget the way they had asked for “their stories” again and I had sat in the dark bedroom while whispering the miracle of their birth and adoptions.
Instead, I make a mental note to self: Go shopping for girl’s clothes. Dress girls in adorable clothes more often. Post it to Instagram.
A new school year. A google search for “homeschool rooms” leads me to a blog of a woman who clearly has her act together.
I mean, her schoolroom is imaculate, organized into perfect categories (all color coded with matching baskets of course). Her children smile delightfully into the camera, clearly smarter because she has this incredible homeschooling space.
I convince myself that I need a trip to Ikea. Like today.
I google “how to make a homeschooling schedule for multiple children work” and find another perfect woman. This one has a chart for everything.
Meal planning, parenting, school hours, chores–it’s all printed perfectly onto charts.
I need charts. Many, many charts.
Forget the trip to Ikea. I need a trip to Walmart for printer cartriges so I can print 50 new charts.
It’s quiet time. The youngest children are napping while the older ones read. I grab my phone again and scroll through Facebook.
In the midst of political rants and memorable memes, I feel the crush of comparison again.
One friend posts a thrift store find that she’s hand painted and hung in her living room.
I sadly look around and think of how long it’s been since I’ve decorated anything.
Another friend posts their latest workout routine and favorite health drink. They’ve lost 10 pounds with this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G product.
The bowl of ice cream I had been enjoying is suddenly bitter in my mouth.
Mental note to self: Eat healthier. Excercise more. Find a thrift store and decorate SOMETHING. Anything.
Yet another friend shares how her son has just finished his second 300 page book for this week.
I close my eyes, thinking of my little dyslexic buddy, who struggles with reading every.single.day.
The feelings of failure and comparison fill my soul, and discouragement sets in.
There’s a potluck at church and I am seated near a well-dressed mother of one child. As we make small talk, I notice out of the corner of my eye that one of my little ones is struggling. I know it’s only a matter of seconds before she’s in a heap on the floor, so I excuse myself politely from the conversation and go to my child.
I can feel the eyes of the other mother on me as I attempt to regulate my daughter. It’s too late, however, and the sobs begin to wrack her little body.
A full meltdown ensues.
I pick her up in my arms and leave the room, feeling the heat of a million eyes following me.
What they can’t possibly understand is how this child has known hunger in such an intense way that on Sundays, when lunch can be pushed back much later than usual, her body feels the hunger and goes into stress overload.
What they can’t possibly know is that I forgot to pack a snack for this precious child, this one who can’t handle the emptiness of hunger pains. They can’t know that the moment the food hits her little tummy, she’ll be happy and regulated again.
We curl up together privately in a bathroom stall, waiting for the emotions to settle. “Are you hungry?” I whisper, and she nods her head yes.
I can feel the unspoken judgment of the watching onlookers as I carry my daughter back into the potluck. I want to be strong enough to not care what they think, but this facade of motherhood perfection has permeated me, too, and I’m upset that someone has seen the imperfections and judged.
If you’re a mother, I bet you’ve struggled with comparing yourself to the Supermom.
You do know she doesn’t exist, right?
There are no supermoms.
Shocker, I know.
We’re all a mess of hopelessly flawed, perfectionist desiring, comparison crushing, mistake making mothers.
Whether it’s through play dates, moms groups, or social media and blogs, we compare ourselves amongst ourselves…
and we always, always fall short of our version of the supermom.
I’m wondering today, if, instead of comparing ourselves to other mothers, we could just embrace the diversity of our strengths? If instead of judging each other, we could help equip each other for the challenges of motherhood? If instead of turning our nose up at our differences, we could offer our unconditional friendship? If instead of wishing we could be like each other, we could learn to be thankful for the unique way God made us.
Guess what? I’m really good at living a clutter-free life. I am still breastfeeding my two year old. I parent a variety of special needs and am homeschooling eight children this year. I write music and sing with my family. I travel in ministry and am moving to Africa in the spring. But I eat ice cream every single day. (I also shovel in handfuls of chocolate chips but oh well.) I don’t thrift and I can’t decorate right now, and my sewing machine has been packed away for a long time. My children don’t own very many clothes and I have neglected hairbows for months now. I don’t follow a homeschooling schedule. I get overwhelmed and frustrated and sometimes I’m very difficult for my hubby. I don’t blog as consistently as I’d like. I fail Jesus more than I want to share.
We all have beautiful strengths that we are proud of–and ugly weaknesses that we wish to keep hidden.
There’s room for change in every mother’s life.
Maybe I need to eat healthier.
Maybe you should organize your school room.
Maybe I really should shower my little girls and fix their hair today. 🙂
But let’s remember to keep the focus off the myth of the supermom. Let’s remember that God created me to be my children’s mother and my personal gifts and strengths empower me to be the very best mother I can be.
To my own children.
In my own home.
Where it truly doesn’t matter if it’s ever perfect.
And where my children think I’m truly the one and only Supermom.