Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Super Mom hangs up cape..." and picks up her....?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Pleshette Murphy speak at our local Women@Work lunch. Ann is the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood, a resource I highly recommend for a preview into the future of the evolving challenges of motherhood as our kids grow up. At our lunch, she told a packed room of women that it's okay to be yourself, and not become a slave to unrealistic expectations. She has even come up with a formula for calculating guilt that has "the mysterious UX," unrealistic expectations, as a mulitplying factor.

Ann was also quoted in an article that came out last week in the News & Observer, that headlined "Super Mom hangs up cape...Parenting in overdrive turns out to exhaust everyone." The article also profiled members of the support and advocacy group Mothers & More--an organization I really respect. I am speaking to this group on October 6 in Apex, NC. Click here for Mojo Mom event details.

Ever since the Super Mom article came out, I have mentally extended the headline and had the phrase "Super Mom hangs up her cape...and picks up her....?" running through my head. Each one of us can fill the blank in for ourselves. The Super Mom illusion imprisons us, especially if we have perfectionistic tendencies. "If I can't do something perfectly, why even try?"--this thinking, which may control us while remaining on an unconscious level, leads to paralysis. My Mojo Mom philosophy is that it's okay to be less than perfect, to try new things, and even to do find out we aren't good at everything. If we let go of unrealistic expectations of being the perfect Super Mom, we may find room in our lives for one or two new interests, goals, or dreams.

Easier said than done, I know. Yesterday was a frustrating day for me. Everything was great until the 7 pm witching hour came and I ran out of steam. I felt like I wasn't being a great Mom, and my daughter wanted me to put her to bed even though she and I been together all afternoon and my husband had just arrived home. I wanted them to spend time togehter, and frankly, I was burned out and needed to chill out. They were fine, but I was anxious. Hours later, when Michael and I were falling asleep, I told him that I was still wrapped up in thinking about the one hour of the day that hadn't gone well. He said, "She's asleep now, so what else matters?" This was just the right thing to say. He wasn't dismissing our daughter's earlier unhappiness, but he had a wise perspective--if she was over it and sleeping peacefully, there was no reason for me to stay awake worrying about it. Thank you, Zen master Michael.

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