The Supermom Myth

When I was younger, I always had this vision of what being a mother would be like. I knew it would be hard, juggling that successful career, running around with my kids in parks, cooking homemade meals every night while still remaining to stay in shape through all of this.

Because everybody knows if you are doing that much work, you must be burning a lot of calories.

But being a mother is NOTHING like I thought. Nothing that I bargained for.  These were the realizations that hit me very early on.

1. Control. Or lack thereof. As someone who could be relied upon to be on time, stick to commitments, be out of bed early and even manage to throw a workout in before a 7 AM flight, losing this practically gave me angina. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten my family prepared to go somewhere to be stalled by a “What’s that smell?” from my husband or a “Mommy, I need to go potty!” or an even more reassuring, “Oops, Mommy, I missed the toilet!

So shit, if you are expecting to be on time for anything, you better be ready and prepared for poop explosions.

In regards to control? Well after a few kids, some of us also have bladder issues when we sneeze or cough.

Ah-choo.

Not all of us. I just heard about it from a “friend.”

2. It’s more challenging to stay in shape. Now I am not saying it CAN NOT, it SHOULD NOT, or it MIGHT NOT be possible. I am just saying it’s harder. And sure, you can drop your kids off at the daycare at the gym, but if you work, you feel guilty about leaving your kids with someone else again.

So you go to the Fitness Store or Sears  or something and buy an elliptical. You set up a TV with cable and DVR all your favorite shows. And every night you set the alarm because in the morning you will go down to the basement and watch Gossip Girl while getting buff.

BUTTHENIT’S6INTHEMORNINGANDYOUARESOTIREDBECAUSETHEKIDSDIDNOT
SLEEPAFUCKINGSECONDBETWEENTHETWOOFTHEMGODDAMNIT
ANDWHOGIVESASHITABOUTSERENAVANDERWOODSONORCHUCKBASS
ORBEINGFITJUSTFUCKINGLETMESLEEP.

Yeah. It can be kind of like that.

And then your husband asks you if he can cancel the DVR since you never use it anyway, which only makes you feel worse. Hearing his words makes your ass sag just a little more.

3. Running around in parks and shit. Oh this totally happens. It’s just that vision I had of running around with my hair done and bouncing all healthy like a damn Clairol commercial while running after my kids and taking pictures of them with my SLR camera is far from what is usually happening.

I am usually in my yoga pants. I may or may not have showered. My hair is not bouncy. It is, in fact, pulled back into a tight bun on the top of my head and I am not bouncing around the park with them Clairol, Revlon or even Suave style with them. I would have grabbed my SLR but I forgot it, damn it, but I’ve got my iPhone so I can snap pictures on that.

What’s that? Oh Shaila – you want to go on the swings over there and Nico you want to go 200 yards in the opposite direction to that slide? To that particular slide, because none of these other twelve slides will do? Oh ok, of course that makes sense.

After some negotiation, we are good.

Oh, what’s that? Oh you need to use the potty? Oh – well, we can use the Port-a-Potty right there. What? Oh you think that’s disgusting? Oh ok, let me magically make a shiny new toilet appear with this Harry Potter like wand that all mommies have. They came out of our vaginas the same time we had you. Oh, you peed yourself? Oh, ok. Let’s go home.

And then even though I have watched Food, Inc. and I know terrible things about the food industry, I will stop at McDonald’s.

Because.

Just because.

4. Cooking homemade meals and crap. Some moms are really good with this. Heck, I have a friend from high school named Deb and she is one of the most popular food bloggers in the whole world, the author of a blog you may have heard of called “Smitten Kitchen.”

I read it from time to time. The pictures on it are pretty. I also really like her granite counters. I wonder what kind of granite they are.

“Smitten Kitchen” just released by Deb Perelman. Buy it for Diwali! Christmas! Hannukah! Kwanzaa!

See what I mean? Those counters are really pretty.

Before I know it, the time I needed to cook a homemade meal is gone.

So I pick up the phone and call for delivery. The guy at the pizza place asks me if my cold has gone away and if I’ve scheduled that mani/pedi. I ask him if he gave that girl he was talking about a call. The one he told me about the LAST time we spoke.

Yesterday.

*********************

Anyway, these are just some of the things where my vision has not quite matched my reality. If I were to liken it to a novel, the title is no longer “Great Expectations” but more like, “The Little Engine That Could.” Just trying to get to the top of that hill.

I think I can. I think I can.

There are loads of other things I suck at, but there are only so many hours in a day and a blog post can only be so long. Maybe I will mention them to you another day. (Laundry, anybody?)

I do know one thing for sure. I think one thing that I am good at is loving my kids. I may not be the shiniest, slimmest, most glittery, in control, homemade meal cooking, organic-y kind of mama that I thought I was going to be. But I think my kids will forgive me.

I have given them life.

I remember the moments I held each of them for the first time and the expressions on their faces like it was yesterday.

I know the patterns of their breath when they sleep at night. I notice the cute little tics each has.

How Nico does this cute little shiver when he gets scared.

How Shaila makes “the love face” when she looks down at her brother in those rare moments where she is not occupied with throwing something at him.

 

The small things, the little nuanced behaviors that remind me of a family member on my side or John’s side.

I have held them close when they have been sick, I have felt the sweet touch of theirs lips against my own.

For what it’s worth. They are kind of stuck with me.

And to me, that’s worth more than anything else.

Even if I’m setting myself up for failure, I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.

― Ayelet Waldman, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

22 Responses to The Supermom Myth

  • My son is 13 now, but I wish I knew about blogging when he was small. I would have had so many more people to commiserate with! This is a fabulous, beautiful post. Thank you, Kiran. ;-)

    • Masala Chica says:

      Hi Renee,

      I am glad I know about blogging now, at least. Otherwise I would be paying my therapist a lot more money than he deserves :-). I am glad that you liked the post and don’t just think I am a nutty mom with overly flat hair.

      Thank you, sister.
      Happy Thanksgiving!
      Kiran

  • Alison
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yes, this. Can I just steal this post for my own? Because you write much better than me. Truth.

    • Masala Chica says:

      You can steal anything you want Alison. What’s mine is yours. Especially my kids. If you want them during the night time hours, please feel free!

      And no – I don’t write better than you. I love your writing.
      ;-)

      xo.
      Kiran

  • Dixya says:

    Kiran you are a wonderful mother. We all have expectations and sometimes unrealitstic expectations on relationship, roles, or anything in general based on things we see, are taught or from other people. But in reality we all have different situations and unforeseen circumstances. I am talking about a single girl with no kids or anything. I can only imagine what all goes into maintaining a marriage, kids, jobs, and self. Kudos to you and every mother who are there loving their kids..

    • Masala Chica says:

      Hi Dixya,

      I think that at this point the realization has set in that I don’t have to be everything at the same time – and if I have to be – well then, something HAS to give. Whether we are married, with kids, single with a challenging job – life is always about finding your balance and realizing that the expectations we set up for ourselves are not always the most important ones.

      I always believe we should strive for greatness, even now. I just realize that the things that are “great” to me have changed more. Some days I will hit the mark, some days I won’t.

      Like the train, I’ll keep chugging. You know – maybe some wine or beer.
      ;-)
      xo
      Kiran

  • Leslie says:

    “if you work, you feel guilty about leaving your kids with someone else again” Not only that, but when between work and dinner, then bedtime are you really supposed to get a workout in on a regular basis? This is why my gym bag is perpetually packed and then left in my car.

    • Masala Chica says:

      Oh my lord, I have a gym bag in the back of my trunk too. Do you know how long it’s been there? Freaking mid-september. I have done some heavy lifting today though. These diet coke cans are NOT that light ;-)

      Kiran

  • Ambreen Ali says:

    i love the way you write… very good post. Yeah one more thing your kids are toooo cute :)

  • Need to repeat this over and over again to myself: “realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind”. Maybe if I repeat it often enough, I will really start to *realize* that it is just that. To date, I have tried all sorts of ineffective remedies to make my mind not so busy… Great post, Kiran! It’s not at all what we envisioned, is it?

    • Masala Chica says:

      Hi Melissa,

      No – it certainly isn’t what I expected. And before I write anymore, I still can’t believe I have never met you because we have about 15 friends in common (ok maybe I am overexaggerating, but I don’t think so)!

      I wish my mind would stop being so chatty with me or stop giving me such bad advice. And I have found I am my worst critic, judge, enemy when I don’t feel like I measure up.

      But I AM trying to be kinder to myself and just remember the things that REALLY matter. I can be everything I want, but maybe not necessarily all the time.

      Happy Thanksgiving!
      Kiran

  • Parita says:

    I am you before you had kids! I have these images of me being supermom and balancing it all perfectly. But every now and then reality kicks in and I realize that I’m not super anything…just human! I’m kind of in love with this post! I’m sending it to all the young moms I know and saving it for myself of course! Thank you. :)

    • Masala Chica says:

      Ah Parita,

      You are super at a lot of things. I think as individuals we all are. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I think we just need to recognize that when your kids come along, you are going to have some “really great, high five, who ever said this was hard days??!!”

      And then there will be days that won’t be like that.

      And your priorities shift.

      I still think we can all be super, but it’s hard to not fall into comparisons or the visions we once pictures and not to judge ourselves.

      So I am just telling you now, don’t even go there. You will be a great mom when you guys are ready.

      It will just be the way that works for you, which you will find.

      xoxo,
      Kiran

  • Sig
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is great and so timely. I’ve been worrying about things like this – perhaps it’s natural, but more I can’t see what kind of mother I am going to be and it scares me. Maybe it’s the trauma of my own mother-daughter relationship. I’m realising as time passes and it gets closer to holding this baby that I have to one) forgive and move on from the past and two) realise I will do the best I can in my own way.

    You’re awesome and your kids will not only forgive you but cherish you forever :)

    • Masala Chica says:

      The fact that in looking at your own impending motherhood, that you think to yourself:

      one) forgive and move on from the past and
      two) realise I will do the best I can in my own way

      is a lot of progress already. At this point in most pregnancies (um, mine) – all I remember thinking about was the pregnancy, getting the baby out, praying that the baby was healthy and that I did not poop on the table.

      Seriously.

      So in regards to Point 1) How we look at our relationships with our parents absolutely does impact how we respond to some things when the babies come. I did not realize that and there were a lot of things I wish I had come to “accept” or come to terms with before the babies came. You have to let go of the past. I think if we want to be strong parents, the baggage – or as much as we can drop – needs to go.

      As for Point 2) You will do it in your best way which will probably be really nice and neat and awesome and you have such great hair already that you might be the kind of woman I would throw my iphone at. You are going to rock this, girlfriend.

      xoxo,
      kiran

  • Ilene
    Twitter:
    says:

    You articulated what many of us feel so perfectly! Especially the non edited version of what I feel like after no sleep when I think I am going to get up early to work out – LOL! Orm my actually thinking I’m going to “cook.” Although I must say, your hair always looks gorgeous in the photos on this blog. I can’t imagine it looking like anyting else!

  • Hey Kiran! Wow, it has been a while hasn’t it? I hope you are doing well and I just wanted to pop by and say hi. Best wishes!

  • Marie says:

    Wow, your blog is so FUN to read! Your writing is great – it just draws me in with the perfect mix of humor and feeling and reality. On top of all that, your topics are interesting. No pressure, though! :-) So glad to be reading this – it has already kept me up past my bedtime but well worth it.

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MEET KIRAN
I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....
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