Last week, I arrived at school to pick up my son. I was pushing my baby girl in her pretty teal pram (it’s new and I’m obsessed – but that’s another story).
I found myself on the edge of the playground with my best friend and a couple of acquaintances while our kids blew off some post-school steam before heading home.
I’d just finished putting together a really big project for work that afternoon and I’d barely slept for days as I pushed to meet the deadline while dealing with a teething baby and a primary schooler with severe allergies.
I don’t think either of them had slept for more than half an hour at a time either.
My best friend asked me how I was going with everything as I found myself nodding off while gently rocking the pram in the shade of the sun sail. “I sent it off about 15 minutes ago”, I said. “I’m exhausted.” I was hiding the dark rings under my eyes behind sunglasses and secretly hoping that my shirt wasn’t inside out as I realised I had no idea if my clothes were even clean. My best friend congratulated me and agreed that it must be a relief that it was done. I smiled dazedly and closed my eyes for a moment as my baby girl chatted to my friend.
One of my acquaintances overheard me talking about my project work and being vaguely aware of the work that I do commented to the group in general, “Oh yes, Zoë is a Super Mum. She does everything! Runs her own business, is the editor of a magazine, manages a business group, is studying at university and looks after her kids! A Super Mum!”
It was meant as a compliment, I’m sure. The mum is very nice and I just smiled and shook my head laughing awkwardly, but my hackles silently rose.
I am no different to any other Mum doing the best they can.
I work long hours, but being self-employed, I choose when those hours are and I can usually work from home. My house is usually a bit of a mess, I’m behind on the washing, we eat take awayway too often and I’m really not a very good wife… because I’m just so tired.
I can go to my son’s school events and play with my daughter in the middle of the day, I make the effort to play soccer or Xbox or… something… anything to assuage my guilt… with my kids each day and read bedtime stories, but in between all that, I can have a short fuse; tiredness makes me cranky.
I’m good at my job. I’m organised, well-presented (except for that one time my top was on backwards but my bub was only new and I totally blame her!), well connected and creative. This is the zone of my life where I am in control, I’m the expert, I’m respected.
No one throws food at me when I’m in a client appointment.
But I’m often up until three or four in the morning working on client work because I don’t have the time during the day for a full work day which means getting up for school drop off (I’m not a morning person at the best of times!) is a challenge and we are always rushed and often late.
Oh… and I haven’t started my uni thesis which was due last Friday (I’m blessed with amazing course leaders who are generous with extensions).
I am not a Super Mum. I’m holding everything together with duct tape and bubble wrap. Just like most mums I know.
In the business world, we call this the glorification of busy. The same principal applies to parenting – the more you do, the more you are lauded. Stop glorifying quantity. We need to focus on quality.
I’m doing the very best I can and I often drop balls as I juggle them all to put food on our table and to be there for my kids.
Often, my work comes first because without it, my kids won’t eat, and I feel tremendous guilt for that. Please don’t call me Super Mum.
I am many things to many people, but my favourite title is just “Mum”.
Do you get called a ‘super mum’. Do you enjoy being called that?
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