Monday, March 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Sandwiches and the Myth of Supermom

It was just a few days before my third son was born.
It had been a difficult pregnancy, and I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and essentially miserable.
I labored under the burden of guilt that I was not being the mother my older two sons needed me to be in the midst of my discomfort.

On this particular day, we had been busy running our last errands 
to get ready for Lincoln's birth.
As we walked into one store,
(let's be honest--they walked, I waddled)
Talmage asked what we were having for dinner.

There was that guilt again, welling up inside of me as I felt my inadequacies acutely.

"I don't know..." I responded. "I'll probably make you a peanut butter sandwich."
His features lit up with excitement as he exclaimed with great enthusiasm,
"Thanks!!! You're a good mom!"
And then it hit me.

Not only is it unrealistic to hold ourselves to a fabricated supermom composite
consisting of only the very best bits and pieces of all that surrounds us,
but it is, to put it simply, unwanted.

All around us we see images depicting the perfect ideal of motherhood.
The clean white towels hanging in the spotless bathrooms of diaper cream ads,
the smiling, apron-clad, lipsticked woman holding the beautifully baked pan of organic chicken,
the well-groomed soccer mom emerging from her pristine new minivan.

And then we look around at the heaps of dirty laundry,
the noses that need to be wiped,
and the bags under our eyes,
and we wonder where we are going wrong.

But in reality, our children don't even want those unrealistic ideals.

They want a home in which they can be comfortable,
where a bit of mud tracked through the kitchen is met with a forgiving smile and an outstretched cloth
instead of a reprimand pertaining to equilibrium disturbed.
They want a dinner that fills their bellies
and dinner conversation that fills their eager minds.
They want mothers who are not too consumed with maintaining perfect images
to stoop down and play
without worries of dirt under the fingernails or ironing left undone.

In short, our children want us.
Their imperfect moms with their less-than-spotless homes
and bags under their eyes because they devote their lives
to loving and caring for each runny nose.

Their moms who may not often wear lipstick
but have a ready smile,
whose appearance may not set trends
but will always render comfort.

Their moms who may feel burdened with imperfections
but love absolutely unconditionally.
And it's that love that makes a very imperfect woman
into the perfect mother for her children.
Peanut butter sandwiches and all.

3 comments:

  1. I love this attitude you have! It is so true. Our kids need us. Do I smell a homeschooler in you? Love you tons!!!
    Melissa

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  2. Great blog. It's funny that today I actually cried... a lot... cause Lizzy gave me a lecture about how I don't spend enough time playing with them. I started thinking about all that I do for them and how I devote so much time to our home and feeding them and caring for them and all they really see is if I play with them or not. It's hard to balance everything. Really it is. But I guess it's good to remember that just because they don't see or understand the work that goes on behind the scenes doesn't mean it doesn't matter. And it's also good to remember that in the end... the relationships we have with our family matter more than anything else. Sorry for the long comment but I also just remembered one of my favorite quotes that goes so perfectly with this post:It's by Sister Hinckley:

    “I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
    I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
    I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
    I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
    I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
    I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”


    ― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

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    Replies
    1. Rachelle, you are amazing! I give myself Lizzy's lecture every day. Hopefully this post didn't seem like an addendum to the lecture. It is SO hard to balance and I never feel like what I am doing is enough. But for what it's worth, I think you are one of the best examples of having the right attitude as a mother and spending time the right way. Your kids have no idea how lucky they are. It was a special treat for my mom to play a game with us (mom of 7), and I'm sure at the time it was frustrating, but in retrospect we definitely see how hard she worked to meet our endless needs. So maybe there's hope for the future anyway. :)

      Also, I love that quote as well! I'm reading "Glimpses" right now, and I am just devouring all of the Sister Hinckley stories. She is one of my heroes. Thanks for sharing!

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