Ladies and gentleman. Sit back, and get ready for the latest round of M.O.M. Yes, that’s right, the great games of M.O.M happen every single day. All over the world. Crossing all ethnic, racial, financial and cultural lines. And, yet, in these great games there are no real winners. Yet, ladies all over the world, get up every single morning and prepare themselves for the next round of competition.
There are no professional endorsements (that would take away from the fun). There are no cheerleaders to cheer them on. Training is on the spot. Competition fierce. Only the few survive for the next round.
Yet, the teams huddle on WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, pediatricians’ offices, the water cooler and park benches all across this wide world. What exactly are these games?
The Mommy Olympics of Martyrdom (insert ominous sound here).
Let the games begin!
Lady A “Wow. Am I tired. I was up with my baby until 1 am this morning. It was so hard to get to work on time today (insert sigh).”
Lady B “I can totally relate! I was also dealing with my baby, but, then his crying woke up the 4-year-old, by the time 2 am hit, I just HAD to wake up the hubby, because I just couldn’t deal anymore (insert sigh and yawn).”
Lady C “Last night was just awful! My twins were up with FEVER, and, I don’t even bother waking my husband, because they would NEVER go to him, so it’s pointless (insert sigh, yawn, and, full body stretch).
Who won here? Certainly not any of them. While they may be in competition, there are no winners. Just exhausted and overwhelmed women.
I hear this mostly from women who spent most of their developmental years in the 80s. And, when I think back to what was the movement of those years, it was “SuperMom.” While no one was expecting them to scale tall buildings in a single bound, there was certainly the belief that one could have it all.
But that is far from the truth. As a working wife and mother, I truly value both my professional life and private life. I also know that each of them comes with sacrifice.
Now, I am not here to join the ranks of the martyrs. No, what I am here to suggest is that we change the bar of ‘having it all.’
When I was growing up, my mother (the quintessential career woman) had a cartoon on our family bulletin board. It was a drawing of a woman, dressed in a power suit, with a cape (a la Superwoman), with about 7 different arms. Kinda strange, I know. But, at the end of each arm there was a representation of each of her responsibilities. Cook, driver, nurse, mother, wife, coach, laundress, cleaner and a few others that have been forgotten, but what always struck me was the caption underneath: “I am SuperWoman. I have it all. I am tired.”
And, I remember feeling like that was just impossible. Aside from the weirdness of the multiple arm image, on the end of the mommy arm, the kids weren’t smiling. How could they be, when mommy was being stretched in all different directions?
Trying to prove herself to herself, as most of those women were very likely the product of the typical 50s household where Mother spent her day keeping house (and, not probably not feeling satisfied because of it).
So these 80s mommies had to prove to themselves that nothing was left to chance by Having It All. So they pushed themselves. And, as I hear from many of the women I work with, as children, their mothers just weren’t so available in not just a physical sense, but, an emotional one as well.
So, today’s mommy is also trying hard to feel successful, so they push to the limit. And what better way to get to your limit than to measure yourself against someone else’s?
I hear women feel like failures if their houses are not perfectly neat. Dinner not gourmet, or, socks not properly matched. I hear little about how they spent that time instead doing the really important things. Like reading that extra bedtime story, talking on the couch with their husband for another 15 minutes. Or, (hold onto your seats here) getting some extra sleep, or, pampering ourselves in some other way.
I am a big believer in outsourcing as many things as I can. I have help. I used to think that I wasn’t managing. And, yes, I too had the feeling of inferiority pass my conscious. But, then I realized something. My “All” is not anyone else’s “All.” But, rather the “All” I pick. I do manage because I know (or, at least am learning) where my strengths lie, and, focus on those areas.
I encourage women everywhere to step down from the M.O.M games. The prize just ain’t worth it. Instead, find your inner Wonderful Woman, and cultivate her.
Oh, and, please get rid of a couple of those arms. It just looks kinda strange.