You see her everywhere. She’s answering work emails while simultaneously wrangling two children in the cereal aisle as she reaches for the all-grain, sugarless options. She’s on a conference call while changing an impressively full diaper, silently smiling at her wide-eyed child as editorial options are discussed. She’s emptying the dishwasher as dinner sautés on the stove and the third load of laundry starts its annoyingly-necessary second cycle.
And we’re all in awe of her, so much so that we throw around words like “superwoman” or “superhero” or “superhuman” or, my personal favorite, “a robot who apparently doesn’t need a single moment of sleep or solitude”.
I’m just as guilty as the next well-intentioned person. I see my mom friends getting their masters while they take care of four children or providing financially for their family while surviving the exhausting all-night feedings. I watch as they scurry back to the gym, forgoing rest for the sake of an “acceptable” post-baby body . I observe as they plan parties and volunteering opportunities while their youngest has started teething. I call them “amazing” and ask them how they do it and I praise them publicly.
I also see how they hide their inconceivable exhaustion. I hear their whispers of all-consuming fatigue and see the stress steal the joy from their once-enamored faces.
I tell them they’re doing a great job, and they are, but what I should be telling them is this:
Ask. For. Help.
For reasons too numerous to divulge, mothers feel the need to do it all, do it well, and do it all at once. An unnecessary amount of pressure hits a mother as soon as her little enters the world. She wants to inspire her daughters or make a perfect home for her sons. She wants to prove that she can have it all; a career and a loving relationship and a comforting home and wonderful children. She wants to appear effortless in her life choices, so she packs on the plans and fills up the calendars and drowns in the stressful situations it takes to complete it all.
Mothers: you aren’t superwoman.
You do need sleep and you do need rest and you do need moments of sweet, blissful nothingness. You need to eat multiple meals a day and you need to relax your mind and you need to enjoy the amazing life decision you’ve made.
You need help.
You don’t need to do it all, do it all well, and do it all at once and you definitely do not need to do it all by yourself. You are not a failing mother or a weak woman if you reach out to the nearest able-bodied human and say “please, support me”. In fact, your willingness to ask and receive assistance sets a long-lasting example for your children and keeps you better equipped to, in fact, have it all.
Having a child shouldn’t be another task you add to your ever-growing list of solo accomplishments.
Having a child should be a lifelong journey, shared with a partner you’re willing to, in all actuality, go slightly crazy with.
Don’t bog down your days with “must-dos” and “have-haves”. Don’t drive yourself dangerously close to insanity trying to prove that you’re amazing. You housed and birth an actual human. Trust us, we already know you’re incredible.
Most importantly, don’t miss out on the little, perfectly beautiful and ever-so-wonderful moments of parenthood because you’re too exhausted or stressed or overwhelmed. Don’t ruin what had you excited to become a mother in the first place. Don’t turn parenting into a chore.
So, no, mom: you are not superwoman.
She’s not nearly as capable as you are. When you ask for help.