Real Chat: Living up to Supermom

May 26, 2012

I hear very often the question, “How do you balance everything?” Or the comment, “I don’t know how you do it all!” Well, here is some real truth – I don’t do it all and I struggle to balance everything! Phew, that felt good just to admit that. I think every mom has their own vision of Supermom, but I learned early this year that living up to her shadow is exhausting…

After the move back to Atlanta, having a new baby, running a business, blog, designing, a little teaching on the side, and wanting to have dinner on the table, I was crumbling inside. I was so irritable and tired by the time Gabe would get home from work. I felt I was being torn in twenty directions and not able to give the best of my self to any one thing. I was a half-hearted, spread to thin, tired mess. Our house was always taking a back seat to  the to-do list, and I was close to hiring a maid. I was shedding lots of tears over not being able to spend much time with my children. Something had to give…

I got real with myself. Supermom doesn’t exist – so I should stop trying to be her. I accepted the fact that it would be impossible to do everything well and with a smile on my face. If I wasn’t giving the best of myself to my kids and husband, than nothing I was doing was worth it. So, I wrapped up my accessory business and put it away. I started setting realistic expectations for myself. No more over committing to graphic design projects. I started to utilize my crockpot more. I returned to taking a few moments before the kids got up to sit in quiet and prayer. I accepted the fact that my house doesn’t need to be sparkly clean at all times (darn that electrolux commercial), and that it was okay if the laundry sat unfolded for a week. I tried breaking the expectations I put on myself that I needed to do it all on my own and perfectly. Gabe reminds me often that we are a team, and we should always be working together. He cooks dinner when my day has been especially crazy, or will pick up kitchen duty when he notices that stressed look on my face – even though he has been working all day as well. He is one of my secrets to how I do it all. Supportive and loving…I look up to him in many ways.

I can breathe easier now that I have accepted the fact that I can’t be Supermom. Its good for everyone to remember to be careful who you compare yourself to. Every family has different dynamics to take into account. Like I mentioned here, I can’t wait to work off our medical debt and student loans so I can be with my kids more. That is my motivation that allows me to work so hard. There are still lots of late nights, and moments of frustration when I feel like the juggling act is going to crash down upon me, but at least now I would accept that its okay if it did. Life is full of give and take, ups and downs, and fleeting moments. Whats most important is the attitude in which I face them. I want my children to always feel they are my priority, and to always have a sense of peace and comfort in their home. This is more important to me than my to do list and all the goals I set. And seriously – raise your hand if you ever have your to-do list fulfilled? 

I would love to hear your story. Have you struggled with this before? How do you fight the Supermom expectations? Do you have ways you try to balance it all? Looking forward to chatting with you all!

*photos taken on mothers day, after this outfit shoot.

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  • Very lovely post! I am not yet a mom, but just the thought of becoming one tends to freak me out on occasion. And I think a lot of my freak out has to do with knowing those expectations from the outside are always there. As it is, I struggle with a full-time job, keeping the house straight, and having some semblance of a social life (and that probably amounts to not so much in a mom’s eyes!). I’m struggling to be the ‘perfect wife’ and it is something that I push on myself. Just as your husband is very supportive of you (which is awesome!), mine is as well, and he is teaching me to just let things go sometimes if I’m feeling overwhelmed.

    Thanks for being so candid! This post is a comfort to me for the days when I am a mom.

  • I get frustrated a lot when it comes to what I know I would like to accomplish and the time I want to dedicate and spend with my baby(s). I am always going, going and going…which often times leaves me moody and tired by the end of the day (poor husband). I am trying to find that balance between the to-do list and my little family. I recently started writing up a to-do list (of only a few things/day). If I get to them all, awesome…if not, oh well. It seems to be working well so far & I actually get more done in less time with it.

    I am in a very similar place as you though– Debt, budget, “staying at home” (with a part-time evening job + hopefully soon to be little accessory biz). It’s a lot!

    I need to really keep in mind that I can’t achieve it all and be super mom all of the time.

    Great post.

    Cheers :).

  • I had a little breakdown the other day feeling like I was not living up to the standard that is expected of me…especially being 2nd oldest in a family of 11. I should be a pro..right? Well, I am not. I don’t have it all together and it is so easy to think everyone else does, but I know that is not true. We are all just trying to show the best of ourselves, so sometimes our weaknesses aren’t front and center. I think all we can do is our best day in and day out for the love of God. Isn’t that all He asks of us?

    Thanks for being so honest…it is so good to hear I am not the only one!

  • YES! I try to balance it all and realized it was not going well and I can’t. Right now my blog is on the back-burner and will be for a while as we adjust to life with another kid.

  • I always love this side of you Anna. You are an amazing momma and I look up to you in so many ways. That first picture needs to be framed. LOVE it!

  • I think we woman are so hard on ourselves. We expect to be able to do it all but when we can’t we get frustrated. There is this idea of “supermom” out there that she does it all but more than likely she’s got a weeks worth of laundry piled up that we don’t see or yes, her house is sparkling clean but she hasn’t paid any attention to her kids all day. I think there is a balance in all things and it’s important for us woman to find the balance (like you talked about) that works best for us.

    My husband is in medical school and we rarely see him, at times I feel like a single mom so I’ve had to pair down a ton, lighten my load and it feels great! Some days I don’t get my whole to-do list accomplished and I try not to be hard on myself. It doesn’t always work but stressing about it doesn’t make me happy and I try to remember that a happy mom = a happy family.

    Great post Anna! I think you are doing great. 🙂

  • Lovely post! I’m not a mom yet, but this was interesting to read :p I’m only 21 and studying so I have a little more time haha :p
    Your children are so cute btw!!


  • Enjoyed reading this. I often felt like I needed to accomplish my whole “to do” list. I rarely happened because I never made my to do list realistic. For me being a supermom is now being happy with myself and making sure my family is happy. Doesn’t matter how much I do or can’t do.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Well said, Anna. I think a huge component to being okay with not having everything “perfect” and being able to just do your best is a loving, supportive husband/father (as you said). I attribute all that I’m able to do as a mother, and all the areas where the slack needs to be picked up…to my other half.

  • I think the definition of mom is multi-tasker. I’ve also accepted that I can’t do it all. Now I just try to get a good night’s rest and try to accomplish at least two or three mandatory things off my list. And I try to remind myself that it won’t always be this way. Life is a marathon, not a race, so I don’t have to try to accomplish everything all at once.

    Thanks for your honesty.

  • I get asked every day, “How you do balance it all.” And like you, I do everything I can, and the rest will just wait for another day. Having a supportive husband makes a world of a difference! We’re both blessed in that!

  • You are so right to stop, take a moment, a prioritize what is truly meaningful to you. So often, young moms these days feel like they have to be everything to everyone, and in the end are stressed to the max, over tired, and miserable. It’s funny, I realized a long time ago that my girlfriends were happier being around me when I was “normal”, dishes not done, hair in a ponytail, kids with mismatched clothes…you get the picture. They hate living up to “my standards”. What??? I thought I was living up to theirs! Why do we do this to ourselves and each other?

  • Hello, Anna,
    I appreciate your candidness and vulnerability, plus, your willingness to seek ideas and perspectives you may not have considered yet. I am the wife of a neurosurgeon and was married through his schooling and residency. We have three adult children and two grandchildren. I rarely post comments on blogs I follow, but, felt led to offer my perspective due to my experiences. I am also a Hospice therapist, which I returned to graduate school for after our children were in college, following teaching, and working to help homeless people integrate back into society and become self-sufficient. There is no way our marriage would have lasted without our first commitment being to seek God’s will in our lives each day, together. We sought guidance through prayer, Bible study learnng from both, direction in all areas of our lives and decisions to be made. My husband and I have always prioritised each other and our family first over personal interests. When our children were young through high school, we exercised as a family doing things age appropriate for the children. We spent time in nature and loved watching them discover true beauty in God’s creation. We committed to a date once a week together where we could talk and focus on each other. I did not have time or energy to oil and water color paint until our children left for college, but, that was ok. My work away from home and in the home were what I knew were most important, along with time supporting my family in their activities and friendships. I understood, as a teacher, the critical importance of loving, healthy parenting. I saw first hand the results of poor parenting. I believe strongly that having children is the most difficult, challenging role a person can take on and because of the critical importance of it due to how well we parent impacts not just our children but all the many people they will come in contact with through their lives, it should become top priority whether the child was planned or not. That calls for us to set aside our personal desires many times and give sacrificially in that case. Having a loving, involved husband/father, in spite of his work demands, has demonstrated to me and our children our importance to him. There is nothing more fulfilling to my husband and I then those milestones we have reached together watching each child become more independent and equipped to pursue their gifts in service to others. Practically speaking, I would turn the phone off and be present with my children when they were home. I did not want to just be a caretaker to them, but, to interact through play, reading, talk and laughter. When they napped, I took care of our home, cooked, cleaned, etc. When they began school, I returned to work. Work was for me, my interests and growth. But, I controlled my schedule and never missed an awards ceremony, atheletic event, etc. I have absolutely no regrets about the choices I have made with my time. I think a key word to consider is choice. We are all faced with choice after choice each day….how our time is used, whom it is shared with. I find that deciding and naming in writing the top five priorities in our lives and revisting them and revising them, if needed, each year, helps give ue direction, meaning and purpose. May you and your family be blessed as you learn and grow together. Kathleen

  • seriously applauding you for admitting this! i am often surprised at how so many bloggers present such a “perfect” and “together” image– as if we should all look like them, or else we don’t measure up. thank you for being so real and candid with us 🙂

  • Lovely post Anna, and so encouriging to other mums! I’ve been through all this as well – and am still struggling hard, although my boys are bigger now. Trying to balance being a painter, designer, editor, wife, mum, friend, housekeeper … My kids and family life were always on top of my list and i couldn’t get through with everything i wanted. But i learned to be more accepting and apprreciating the happiness in my life. Blogging isn’t always easy either, but it helps me keeping an upbeat attitude, even when things don’t run smoothly and i want to scream 😉 Generally, i think it’s amazing what we do accomplish – cheers to that and to us and our wonderful kids and a world that is more loving and cheerful!

  • Very nice, thanks for sharing.

    Anna @ sewa mobil jakarta

  • Thanks for keeping it real Anna. 🙂 I loved reading this. Even though I don’t work on the side, it is still a daily struggle for me to balance my expectations of keeping up around our house and spending time with the kids. I feel foolish saying that, but it is true. I have always struggled with wanting everything to be perfect. But I am growing and challenging myself daily because, as you said (it perfectly)…you want your home to be a place of peace and comfort and that you want your children to know they are your priority. Anyhow, I am not good with words, but thank you.

  • Thanks for keeping it real Anna. 🙂 I loved reading this. Even though I don’t work on the side, it is still a daily struggle for me to balance my expectations of keeping up around our house and spending time with the kids. I feel foolish saying that, but it is true. I have always struggled with wanting everything to be perfect. But I am growing and challenging myself daily because, as you said (it perfectly)…you want your home to be a place of peace and comfort and that you want your children to know they are your priority. Anyhow, I am not good with words, but thank you.

  • Wow, I have like this a lot recently. You have no idea. I have felt hopeless, unmotivated and downright crappy. I struggle with thyroid issues which inevitably increases a chance for depression (lame). With a new baby and all, the world seems like it comes crashing down on a weekly basis. Thanks for this post. It’s exactly what I needed. You are an awesome inspiration.

    P.S. What is your email? I am interested in sponsoring, but your email link isn’t working for me.

    Thanks, Anna! You are wonderful!

  • Yes! I came to the same realization when my kids were in elementary school. There are A LOT of parents out there who try to be supermoms and it’s normal to think we should be able to manage it all. I decided to only volunteer for things I sincerely wanted to participate in and did not allow myself to be pressured. I realized too that the laundry will be there tomorrow and the world won’t fall apart if it gets put off a day. Here is the thing… my kids are teens, my son is 19 – off at college… what I wouldn’t give to have just one afternoon with them the same ages as your kids again just to explore, enjoy them and live in the moment! xo

  • Anna, I absolutely love how real you are. As someone who is almost the same age as you, I don’t know if it’s weird to say that I look up to you but I do and I hope when I (hopefully) become a mom, I can have a similar outlook on balancing a family life and a professional life and making it all work in a loving way. You really are an inspiration and I’m so glad you choose to share posts like these with all of us on your blog. I saw this pin today and thought of you…
    I’m sure Supermom exists if you ask your kids! 🙂

  • Oh goodness yes! I struggle with this one for sure! A change in attitude and perspective has been helping me overcome it. Not to mention a lot of prayer :). I still have days where the to-do list seems crushing but I’m not so hard on myself when things don’t get done. Thanks for sharing your experience with this, it’s so helpful to bond with other moms who are going through the same things.!

  • This post has touched me so much! “Balancing” everything has been something so real for me, esp lately, as we prepare to welcome our second child into our lives. It’s so comforting to know that other, if not all, moms go through the same balancing act. What has helped me the most, is the advice to look to God on a daily basis, asking Him what my day should look like. Thank you for sharing your experiences with this and opening this up. I can completely relate when you talked about the beauty of your husband and his undying help and support. What I would do without the man in my life, I have no idea!

  • no bambinos here yet (duh), but i read a great post about people criticizing others for “putting too much on their plates” and the writer said something that stuck with me: some people have bigger plates. we need to take what we can handle and feel good about that… and not judge other people do taking less or more than what feels right to us. i loved it!

    ps. you are ridiculously pretty. i know i say that every time… but i just feel like it needs to be said

  • There for sure is no “supermom” it’s just a bunch of ladies doing their best at what they do best! And I feel like as my kids get older (they are 4 and 7 now) that it gets easier, but it always ebbs and flows… the hard days and the easy days. Being a happy mom makes for happy kids… so always remember to check in with yourself or spoil yourself a little to make the hard days bearable.

  • Just wanted to say that this is a DARLING photo of you and the kids. I loved seeing it!

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