“Wow, how do you do it all? You must be supermum!”
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this, and I’m sure you reading this must have too.
Us mums, we are a new breed of capability. More efficient than a million managers – that’s you and me. We give the word “multi-tasking” a brand new definition. Giving birth, raising kids, breastfeeding (while cooking), working at office, at home… just bring it all on already.
Supermums – that’s us.
How often do you fall into bed, exhausted, only to wake up four hours later to take on the day again? | Photo: iStock
How is it hurting us? The supermum phenomenon
The supermum phenomenon, as I call it, is not something that emerged overnight. It has evolved from the time of our mothers and their mothers, who worked hard to raise and care for their families. Sometimes they had support, usually they did not.
Now, our generation of mums has inherited this label and wears it like a swirling red cape.
But there is a problem with being a supermum. An unwavering belief by our families, our friends, society, ourselves, in our superpowers, has weighed down that cape with too many expectations, like rocks sewn into its hem.
We take ourselves for granted, mums, as do many of those around us. We soldier on through long nights that run into day and back to night, taking care of our babies, our families, and our work.
Nothing is neglected – or maybe one thing is.
That is you.
Fuelled by the belief that when we birthed our kids, we also gave birth to superhuman powers, we try to do it all – and we do – but with little thought to our own wellbeing.
When was the last time you had a day off, mummy? What about an afternoon to yourself to do whatever you please? Hell, just an hour, to sit down, sip a cup of tea and get lost in the pages of a book (or your own thoughts)?
How long has it been since you’ve been to the dentist, had the time to exercise or get a pap smear?
We spend much of our energy (that is powered by love) caring for those we adore. But we forget that most important rule of safety that we hear as we fly off on chaotic family holidays: in the case of an emergency, help yourself before you help others.
The supermum phenomenon has brought on an emergency situation of sorts. Mothers around the world are under immense pressure to be supermums… but they don’t always have the necessary support. And so, small cracks start to emerge. These widen until sometimes, they are too big to be repaired.
We sometimes slip through these very cracks we create and find it hard to emerge from these, whole again.
And so, those heavy expectations catapult some of us down rocky roads like depression, anxiety and stress. Mum’s the word about our journey along these paths because we are, too often, silent warriors.
Sometimes, our red capes morph into red flags.
Mums, here is my plea to you.
Yes, you are strong and you are powerful. Beautiful, wise and magical: these are your middle names.
You are a mother with the ability to heal a wound with one tiny kiss or calm a tantrum down with one word, one hug. Power-pumping and power talking go hand-in-hand. You are indeed a supermum.
But you are also human.
So don’t hesitate to give in to the human need for comfort, love and support. You give these with all your heart to your loved ones; don’t be afraid to receive these from those who care for you too.
Ask for help when you need it – you are never alone even though you think you might be. Take a break to recover from those long days and nights – daddy is perfectly capable of taking care of his child too. Look after yourself – don’t put off that health-check for any longer.
Don’t let your need to care for everyone else except yourself become your kryptonite and burn you out.
Love yourself a little too, mummies. Because even supermums deserve it.
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