Calling Me a “Superhero” Doesn’t Make Motherhood Any Easier
“You’re such a superhero. I don’t know how you do it all!” a well-intentioned male friend told me over coffee one day.
I winced. This wasn’t the first time I had heard this sentiment. From memes to Hallmark cards, there is no shortage of media to remind us moms that we are superheroes, expected to do the impossible while looking good and performing our duties with the utmost enthusiasm and cheer.
“I’m not a superhero,” I confessed. “I’m falling apart. I’m freaking exhausted. I go to bed at 8 PM every night because I’m so burnt out. I constantly feel like I’m failing. I started taking an antidepressant. I screamed at my dog. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I had a panic attack at the Publix parking lot. My kid watches 5 hours of TV a day. All I cook is chicken nuggets and spaghetti. I’M NOT A DAMN SUPERHERO.”
Okay, maybe I didn’t say all that. But I wanted to.
Because here’s the truth: moms aren’t superheroes. We are people. Really exhausted people who put on a brave face every day in hopes of raising our children to be kind and gracious members of society.
We don’t have super speed. We can’t read minds, defy gravity or fly from one errand to another. No. There is nothing super about my TRUE powers: cold coffee, crippling anxiety, and the sounds of cartoons humming from the TV.
This isn’t to say I don’t ENJOY motherhood. On the contrary, I love being a mom. The hilarious way my child looks at me slyly after passing an audible fart, being gifted coloring book pages that were detailed with the highest of care, and watching my once little baby grow into a rambunctious and confident child. These are undoubtedly some of the greatest days of my life.
But me? A superhero? I don’t think so.
Because at the end of the day, the truth is, I don’t even WANT to be a superhero. I don’t WANT to marvel people with my ability to “do it all.” What I want is help, support, visibility, and validation.
I don’t want to be placated, pep-talked and put on a pedestal during my lowest moments. What I want is for someone to see me in my undeniably un-super moments and tell me it’s okay. Parenthood is HARD. You’re not always going to feel super. Keep going anyway.
Moms might seem like superheroes, but the truth is, that’s only so because we’re often not given any other choice. So please. Don’t call me a superhero.
Here are things you can do instead: Sit and listen to me complain. Hold my hand while I cry. Let me exist in my messy and imperfect humanism.
Because the truth is, moms aren’t superheroes, and sometimes we need support too.