Mother’s Day is almost here, and the term “supermom” will most certainly get thrown around a lot. On greeting cards, gifted coffee mugs, and social-media posts dedicated to the wonderful moms in our lives. While I’m not exactly sure what criteria one must meet to become an official “supermom,” I do remember the exact moment that I realized that my daughter genuinely already believed me to be one, in the literal sense.
She was on the verge of turning 6 and had found herself in quite the serious predicament one morning as the four of us hustled to get out the door for school and work. She lumbered right past her dad and came to me with a furrowed brow, pouty lips, and a few frustrated tugs on the seat of her little blue jeans. “Mommy, these undies I’m wearing are SO uncomfortable! I went and got my favorite ones, but I already worked really hard to get my pants on. Can you show me how to get the bad ones off and get these other ones on without taking off my pants?”
I just stood there and stared at her. I studied her serious little face and knew that she wasn’t kidding. My oldest child, my only daughter, determined and stubborn just like me, who had entered the kitchen with full faith that her mother would indeed be able to offer a solution for replacing one pair of underpants with another without removing one’s overgarment. After I broke the bad news to her that we’d have to go about this the old-fashioned pants-removal way and helped her with her tricky button, I asked, “Did you think I have secret superpowers?” Her reply: “Well, what, Mom? You know how to solve everything else.”
And when I really think about it, she’s sort of right. When it comes to parenting, I do have a lot of tricks up my sleeve. They may not be quite on par with X-ray vision, superhuman strength, invisibility, psychokinesis, or the ability to shoot laser beams from my eyeballs, but I’ve accumulated some pretty good ones in my nine years of motherhood.
I can put an infant to sleep in minutes flat with my trademark perfected-over-many-late-nights combination of Figure 8 swaying and rhythmic back patting. I’ve learned to keep empty plastic Mentos gum containers with the tight-fitting lids in the glovebox as they make perfect receptacles when potty-training little boys declare, “It’s a ’mergency!” miles away from a convenient restroom or roadside stop. I know that veggie-averse children can’t taste handfuls of spinach thrown into strawberry banana smoothies and just might eat a carrot if you say, “You better not bite Olaf’s nose!”
I’ve learned the cure for epic toddler meltdowns, which is a midday bubble bath, and that a bag of frozen peas makes the absolute best ice pack after bike crashes and rollerblade falls.
I’ve painstakingly rebuilt tiny, battle-
damaged action figures with superglue.
Searched heaven and earth and successfully located left-behind blankies. Discovered that promising an after-swallowing-yucky-medicine squirt of Hershey’s chocolate syrup straight from the bottle into a child’s
mouth cuts the drama to exactly zero.
Learned that you can occupy antsy children waiting in a long line for quite a while with marathon games of Rock, Paper, Scissors and I Spy.
I know that digging a hole in a shady corner of the backyard, handing your kids the water hose and a couple of shovels and buckets, and giving them permission to get muddy will solve late-summer boredom and buy you at least an hour of time to yourself to sunbathe and read something other than “Magic Treehouse.”
I’ve honed the skill of simultaneously cooking dinner, filling out a permission slip, calling out spelling words to one child, listening to the other recite his reading homework passage, while also folding a load of towels.
So, despite what my daughter used to believe, it’s evident that I don’t have actual superpowers. Just a handful of “mom hacks” and tricks learned through a lot of trial-and-error over the years. I’m not faster than a speeding bullet, nor do I recall a time that I ever lept a tall building in a single bound. I don’t have a trusty super sidekick — unless you count the two kids who tend to follow me around — a morphable super vehicle, any cool super gadgets, or even a measly super cape to call my own. I guess I do have an arch nemesis: my laundry pile. But mine is undefeatable, so that can’t count toward supermom status either.
I think this year, my Mother’s Day message to everyone and myself is this: “Supermom” is meant to be a nice compliment doled out by well-intended people to women who probably oftentimes feel exhausted and spread a little too thin.
It’s fabulous to feel like a supermom on the very best days, and it’s also perfectly OK to take the rest of them one at a time, existing as a mere mortal on Planet Earth doing the very best you can for the people you love. I bet they think you’re pretty super no matter what.
Even when you buy them bunchy underwear.