I want to personally thank you for being a mom. You’re doing the hardest job in the world, and you are excelling at it – even on days when it feels like you’re not. And maybe that day is today.
As mothers, we put ourselves last in almost every category. Last to get dressed for any occasion, last to sit down for a meal, last to buy ourselves anything new, and last to feel seen or heard. We have mastered the art of doing it all with unlimited energy and motivation. We balance and maintain career and family daily and, in some cases, single-handedly manage a handful of kids. We do this for many reasons – mainly because we want our kids to do and be well.
What is Supermom Syndrome, and how did we get here? Supermom Syndrome is the belief that a mother is capable of perfectly doing all the things for all the people in her life while also caring for herself. Mothers who are working hard to sustain the multiple roles in their lives. Like all of you!
This has made us feel that asking for help is synonymous with admitting defeat. The pressure to keep up with what is depicted on social media and what society tells you it means to be a “good mom.”
We’re trained not to ask for help; we are financially challenged and cannot pay for help; we feel shame when we want or need time away from our children. With today’s busy lifestyle and the ever-growing demands for our time, it’s becoming more difficult to balance life, career, and family. How do you take care of you when there’s not enough time in the day or when you don’t feel like you have the energy? You feel bad for even thinking you need to take time away. Admitting all this is not easy – especially when it comes to admitting it out loud.
Here are three things to start doing today to improve your mental load, decrease the mom guilt and shame, and liberate yourself from “Supermom Syndrome.”
Let It Go
(I hope you sang that like Elsa from Frozen.)
First, let go of the idea that everything must be perfect. Perfection is overrated! Nothing is perfect. It’s acceptable and often necessary to leave the dishes in the sink, the clothes not put away, and the entire house not immaculately cleaned. This also means letting go of what you cannot control. We face the unrealistic and unfair pressure to “have it all.” Permit yourself to leave the task undone.
Let Go of Assumptions
Simply put: Ask for what you want. Be specific about what you want and when you want it. Be your own advocate—nothing is too much or too little. No more supposed to, should have, or would have. Hold a family meeting, including whoever is a part of the family unit. Discussing upcoming responsibilities can be a healthy way to fend off stress and conflict that may arise in a relationship when taking care of children’s needs. This way, you can surround yourself with support. Use this as proof that you are not alone – there are people in your village willing to help, but asking is key.
Be true to yourself and allow yourself to be a work in progress. Repeat after me: “I am doing my best. I am doing my best on the hardest, no good, very bad days – just as I am when everything aligns, and I feel happy.”
You deserve a pat on the back for all the things you’re juggling. Be the first to give yourself that appreciation and validation. Showing ourselves gratitude for the things that make us who we are, allowing for fear and doubt but putting a positive spin on it by rewarding ourselves for our efforts and not judging ourselves so harshly.
For those of you in the trenches: I see you, I applaud you, I support you. We can help by being more honest about our experiences, modeling truths for future generations of mothers, and being kind to ourselves as we figure it out. Remember, a mom who is not struggling looks a lot like a mom who is.
Mischa Hadaway is a perinatal therapist with over ten years of experience. As the owner of Gentle Mama Counseling, she provides personalized therapy to hopeful, new, and soon-to-be parents. Mischa creates a safe space free of judgment for her clients who experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, shame, and guilt. Telehealth and evening appointments available.
Call 860.215.4710 and visit: gentlemamacounseling.com for more information.