From the day you first become pregnant, you’re told thousands of things to do — and not to do. You have to eat this, you can’t eat that, and if you do something wrong then something terrible will happen to your baby, and it’s your fault. When your baby is born, you have to breastfeed, but not for too long, and never where anybody can see you, and if you have any problems breastfeeding, it’s your fault. You have to wear your baby and respond to his every cry, but you also have to sleep train him or maybe you should cosleep with him but in any case you have to make sure he sleeps and if he doesn’t, his brain will rot into mush and it’s your fault. And if he’s fussy or irritable or doesn’t crawl when he’s supposed to, that’s your fault too. And when he’s older, if he doesn’t like vegetables or insists on wearing his dirty favorite shirt four days in a row or hits another toddler on the playground or throws a bottle of juice on the floor at the grocery store, guess whose fault that is?
Is it any wonder that moms feel guilty?
When I first became a mom, I was determined to do everything right. At first it was easy. Natural birth — check. Breastfeeding — check. Babywearing — check. Cloth diapers — check. Baby who screams every time I try to set her down and won’t sleep anywhere but on my body and wakes up every forty-five minutes — what?
We figured out the sleep thing eventually (sort of), but in the meantime, I learned a lot about parenting. Mostly I realized that the moms I admired the most weren’t the ones who made the exact same parenting choices I did. The moms I admired were the ones who were confident in their choices, no matter what those choices were. The ones who still had lives apart from parenting. The ones who could talk about books and careers over drinks on Friday night. The ones who didn’t try to control everything in their children’s lives — and who seemed okay with that.
And I discovered: when it comes to being a mom, less really is more. The more you step back, the more your kids get to step up. And that’s a good thing.
Because your job as a mom isn’t to make your kids perfect. It isn’t to make their lives perfect. Our job as moms is to let our kids take charge and grow up. In other words, to let go.
And so I believe that the secret to becoming supermom really is to do less. To try less and trust more. To worry less and relax more. To stop doing everything, and instead focus on being the kind of person you want your kids to become — a person who is kind, relaxed, balanced, and most of all happy.
Because when you can look at your life and honestly say you’re setting an example of joy for your kids — that makes you Supermom.