With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the Supermom posts are flying around.
The intent behind them is, no doubt, very well meaning.
You ask any mom you know, and she’ll give you an honest answer, sometimes motherhood is so hard that it leaves you breathless.
I’ve rattled off the statistics about the health of our children more times than I can possibly remember, you can probably recite them with me:
- 1 in 4 kids now has allergies, autism, ADHD or asthma
- 1 in 2 kids born in the year 2000 (my oldest child’s age) are expected to be insulin dependent by the time they reach adulthood.
- Cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease.
- And suicide rates are escalating at a jaw-dropping rate, along with depression, anxiety, eco-anxiety (the new term to describe how our kids feel about climate change) and so much more.
So what to do about “Supermom”? It’s clearly very well-meaning.
But as moms, we are navigating unprecedented change in our kids’ generation: social media introduces so much, so early, 24/7 news cycles deliver an onslaught of worry and bad news (remember our parents turning off the TV when we walked into their bedrooms at night, as it was the 10pm news that had the more disturbing stories?), there is the professionalization of childhood sports, and the digitization of everything from porn to bullying to homework assignments.
It is so very much.
On top of that, there is economic turbulence, environmental turbulence, political turbulence, and more. If you ask any mom you know, she will tell you that she worries about how it’s all impacting her kids.
We worry, a deep, deep worry, the kind that wakes you up at night, or leaves you aching when a child shares a story, or causes you to take an extra moment in the car to collect yourself.
We’ve watched too many we love use addictions to numb pain, devices to replace conversations, and we now find another labeling beckoning us, as one of the loneliest generations.
So Supermom? It feels like a title that may fit every once in a while, but regularly? Maybe could you just put that out in the garage?
And yet……we never stop trying.
For so many of us, the last few years held the pandemic, academic disruptions, health crises and so much more. The underlying and unyielding rhythm was disruption. It revealed so much, causing a heartache so deep in some cases, that it felt impossible to recover.
And yet, every day, our feet would hit the floor, every morning, in an effort to stabilize things for our children.
Which is why I have come to think of us, not as a ‘supermom’, but as an aircraft carrier.
Perhaps it’s the ages of my four children now, 18-23, but it was three years ago, when things got particularly turbulent, and everywhere we turned was disruption, that I suddenly locked in on that visual.
My four children, still school age at the time, were like these jets that would fly off to do their things, to go school, to their events, to hang out with their friends, to play sports…..and then they would return, tired, worn out, hungry, ready to unload some stuff.
And I realized, I was an aircraft carrier. That they would take off, then return home, quite literally at times, to dump their stuff, refuel, tune up, get what they need, so that they could fly off again.
Stay steady, I thought. Keep the focus, an eye on the horizon.
It felt that my job was to stay steady on turbulent seas when everything around them was changing, when nothing felt familiar, when new people suddenly appeared, when the familiar fell away. To stay steady, when the seas were smooth. To keep the lights on, always visible.
You there, Mom? Can I come home for the weekend? Can you come into my room to talk tonight?
The job was never to be supermom, it was to be the aircraft carrier for our children, on ever changing seas.
Sometimes the seas are like glass, and sometimes they throw you so hard. The goal is to be steady, no matter the turbulence, no matter the ease.
So this Mother’s Day, yes, I know, there are those ‘supermom’ moments, but here’s to the aircraft carriers out there, the ones who are forever and always a steady landing place for their kids, no matter what the conditions are.
I hope that you can find time to pull yourself in to shore, so that all you’ve supported, the beatings you’ve taken, can be taken care of, too. And, if you have hands around you to help repair the battered, tired, worn out places, the kind and gentle hands of your loved ones, your friends and family, let them help you.
Find the people who love you, your family, your chosen family, your friends, and let them love you, because the work we do is some of the most important work anyone anywhere could possibly be doing.
Happy Mother’s Day.