Don't call me Supermom.
During a time-filling chat at the salon, my conversational partner hit me with, “You are Supermom!” Reading the panic in my eyes and waving aside my emphatic disagreement, she attempted to reassure me, “You are! Really!” (I’ll note here that I hadn’t described any momentous feat. She politely inquired about my weekend plans and I replied with the words, “Assist with science project.”)
In the exchange that followed, I attempted to make my point, but she wasn’t having it. She was determined to build my self-esteem and the clear route to escape was to acquiesce and accept her compliment. I lacked the energy to clarify my point: I don’t want to be Supermom. I want to be Did Her Best Mom. Or Did What She Could to Minimize the Damage Mom. Perhaps even a generous Marginally Above Adequate Mom.
Parenting two generations of children (both adult and elementary school age) concurrently gives me a perspective of hindsight side-by-side with the real-time moment. I’ve been parenting for twenty-eight years, and there are seven more years of togetherness here at home before our anticipated adjustment date. I say adjustment and not end because as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I've learned that high school graduation is not the parenting final destination. If that’s the way you’re counting, I suggest that you develop a new calendar, because statistically-speaking, you are in for an emotional leveling. Whether your personal parenting lesson arrives then or earlier, don’t feel bad when it hits. We all thought that we were going to beat the odds, too. Those other parents made mistakes we had noted and made a point of avoiding, so all would be well.
We were wrong. Turns out our kids are normal humans. Flawed, like we are. While they’re young, they’re walking potential with just a few wrinkles to iron out with your stellar parenting. Thanks to you they’ll soon be ready to move through life problem free. And you try, you try so incredibly hard! And sure enough some of those wrinkles you took care of stay smooth but others develop because, you know, humanity and all. Some of those wrinkles are in their genes. Others? I hate to say it, but you as a parent likely played a part in them. I know that I did. I’m here to say that it’s okay—life comes with wrinkles. I know that I worked hard not to emulate my parents’ style of child-rearing, and I succeeded--only to make mistakes of my own. Which I will continue to do, even as I strive not to. Back to that whole humanity thing. I'm human too.
So please, keep that Supermom curse to yourself, well-wishers. Enjoy your Pinterest cakes and over-the top birthday parties if they bring you joy, but remember: You can’t ice over an entire childhood with homemade frosting. There will be gaps. It's universal, so be gentle with yourself. If you want to talk about it, I’ll be over here sitting at the Trying Her Best Mom table. I’ll save a seat beside me just in case you need a break.