You know the feeling... the insecurity hidden deep within that creeps up to a moment of pure inadequacy staring you in the face. You think you're doing a decent job parenting. At least you know you're trying your absolute hardest to do a decent job. Then you see someone who has it all together, is always calm and collected, with freshly shampooedhair and matching clothes, and obedient well-mannered children that actually listen. The struggle is real. It's disheartening. It's an everyday battle. And it starts so early on in motherhood. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?
You're completely sleep deprived and barely keeping up with the things that have to be done each day. Your four month old has just gotten through another growth spurt and extra feedings, and finally slept for a six hour stretch for the first time. You're so excited about the possibility of maybe sleeping again one day and you're so proud of your little angel that you tell a couple mommy friends about it. And then one says, "Oh she just now slept that long? My baby has been sleeping in six hour stretches since he/she was three weeks old."
It's time to start introducing real foods to your growing little one and you are so excited to discover you've been blessed with a good eater! She'll eat most of the fruits and vegetables you give her so you start having real fun with meal times and food introductions. She's growing up right before your eyes! Although this new fun stage also means more dirty dishes, disgusting floors that have to be mopped even more often, stained outfits that you'll wash over and over again with a fierce determination to get the squash stain out, and so on. But you're happy to do it all because your child eats! So you're telling your friends and then you hear "Oh, you don't make your own organic baby food from scratch? I do for my baby because I want them to have the best."
You and your child are enjoying a pool day with a friend and her children, and are having a great time. At least until another mommy walks by with her three beautiful, well-behaved children. Her youngest isn't quite a year old and she walks by confidently in a full-fledged bikini looking like one hot mama. Suddenly you notice a shift in your conversation from laughing about the kids playing and the Bible studies you and your friend are participating in, to how you wish you could wear a bikini again without feeling so self conscious. You admit you struggle with your self image of this "mommy body" that you now have. But you are trying so hard to set a good example of self confidence for your little girl because you always want her to feel good about herself, even if you don't always.
You watch moms juggle three and four kids with such skill and grace as they balance carpool duty and simultaneous cheering for multiple teams while nursing the newest little family member and carrying on an actual conversation. You can't even remember the last actual conversation you had (and finished) while your child(ren) were awake. And let's be honest, if I had three or four kids, I'd just be happy if I could actually shower and change clothes once a week!
And then come the toddler years... with the ever changing and challenging personalities. If your child is anything like mine, they are just so much fun and learning so much stuff every single day, until that switch flips and then they're throwing a fit of award winning proportions over absolutely nothing. It tests my patience in ways I never imagined. Usually we get through those tough moments decently, but I would be lying if I said I always extended the same grace to her that I should. Just this morning my sweet angel woke up in a grumpy, grumpy mood and I'll admit that I actually locked myself in the bathroom to escape the whining just long enough to have three sips of coffee and take a couple deep breaths before facing my tiny terrorist again. I vowed that if the muffins I made for breakfast actually improved her mood, that Betty Crocker would be getting a hand written thank you note for her magic muffin recipe. Then thinking the day was improving, I was again thrown off balance when we ended a happy time on the playground with a timeout for not listening that further dissolved into a complete half hour long meltdown. And again I find myself thinking... what am I doing wrong?
Did you see yourself in any of the scenes? All of these moments are mine. They are moments I've felt like a complete failure as a mom, full of doubt and insecurity, and far from the "super mom" I want to be. Every. Single. One. And there are plenty more. I don't want to feel this way. I want to be secure in this life and calling that God has blessed me with. I admitted to my husband the other day and was shocked when I felt the tears rising and heard my voice crack as I said "Why can't I be a super mom like them? Why can't I keep the house as clean as so-and-so always does AND manage to get super on the table, play with our little girl like she needs me to every day, do all the other stuff I do, and have enough energy left to have a real conversation with you at the end of the day? I just want to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good friend. Is that possible to do?" As soon as I heard it voiced out loud, I realized just how ridiculous of a thought it was, but it doesn't make it go away. The insecurities of not being "super mom" are real.
I talked to a couple mommy friends about how I was feeling and the funniest thing happened. They both started laughing and said "Let me tell you what my impression of you is and was when I first met you. You are my super mom that I try to be like." That compliment hit me like a ton of bricks and changed my perspective completely. First of all... super mom does NOT mean perfect at everything all the time with no tears in the house. It means you pour your heart and soul into loving your family to the best of your ability. It means you try your absolute hardest to do everything on your to-do list, but learn to cut yourself some slack at the end of the day because that list will never be compete. It means knowing your own limits and knowing when you need to lock yourself in your bathroom for your own three minute timeout so that you can show grace and love and respect to your toddler who is having a bad day. We all have these insecurities because we're trying so hard to be just what we already are - to our child(ren), our husband, our friends - we are already a Super Mom.
We've just lost a little perspective because we're so caught up in the remainder of the to-do lists and we're tired. One thing we can all do better though is to encourage each other. We all struggle with the same feeling of inadequacy so we all know exactly what another Super Mom needs to hear today. Motherhood is hard, hard work. Our best days are filled with fun and laughter and learning and counting down the minutes to bed time because we've completely exhausted ourselves again by giving our all to our family and friends. We need the occasional reminder and perspective that we are doing our best and it is good enough.
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the ultimate "Super Mom." It does me good to read it often. It's a great reminder that this job we are blessed to have as a mom, wife and friend, isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be hard and constant work, but the reward of a happy home and family is worth every second of it.
So before you move on to the next thing on your to-do list today, call or email a Super Mom in your life and tell her just why you think she's so super. You'll change her whole outlook and may just give her the encouragement she needs to get through today with a genuine smile on her face.