April 13, 2012

Myth of the Uber Mom

Somewhere out there, a mother wakes before dawn. Sitting at a darkened kitchen table, she pours herself a cup of coffee and leans over the Bible on the table. After praying for each of her children and all of the orphans in Africa, she grinds fresh grain and begins mixing dough for organic, homemade loaves of bread. While the dough is rising, she puts on her running shoes and gets in a couple of miles. After a shower, she fixes her hair and make-up, puts a fresh coat of polish on her nails and dresses in a freshly pressed button up shirt and a perfectly tailored pair of blue jeans, she even dons a pair of cute ballet flats.

Meanwhile, two sleepy eyed children wander from their beds to have a seat at the kitchen table. Homemade waffles and fruit from the local farmers market is piled onto their little plates.

Her home is meticulous. Her children are well-behaved. She always looks her best. She always does what is best. She is the uber mom, and she is a myth.

I don't know why we do it to ourselves. We set up this impossible to achieve image in our minds and then we beat ourselves up when we're not able to obtain it.

What's the difference between an idol and a role model?
Many of us have heard of the Proverbs 31 woman, the wife of noble character. I think it's godly and good to have a role model - an older, wiser woman whom we can emulate.

A role model encourages and equips us to reach OUR full potential. It's a person that we can look up to and admire, but who also shows us how things work out in the real world. They are real life people in real life situations.

An idol is often a created thing - an illusion. We may look at celeb moms with their flat tummies and their put-together style without realizing that they don't do it on their own. With a staff of nannies, personal trainers, nutritionists and stylists, we too could have those types of results, but ask them if their lives are perfect, and I can just about guarantee that they'd say "It's not what it seems." Idols will always disappoint because they are not real. We may follow a blogger who seems to have it all together, but we may not see the "inside story." We see the image that they put before us, the created thing.

Idols can be dangerous
What happens when you compare yourself to an idol? You're bound to get discouraged and depressed, because as much as we strive for it, perfection (as women, as mothers, as wives) is an unobtainable goal. We should always seek to grow and improve, but if we think that we'll never make a mistake or fall short, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Idols send the message "You're not good enough."

Role models are helpful
A role model is not so different from you. They may be an ordinary mother in your hometown or community, or perhaps it's an online personality who's vulnerable enough to share the "whole truth," struggles and all. Role models are helpful, not in their perfection, but in their transparency . While an idol says "To be a good mother, you must be just like me," a role model says "This is what worked for me, perhaps it will work for you." They are flawed, but they are trying and they've had some success.

We need role models. We need people to inspire us to be the best that WE can be, not throw us into guilt when we can't reach an impossible standard.

You are exactly the mom your kids need. God gave them YOU because He knew that you have everything these kids need. You don't have to be Martha Stewart or June Cleaver.

If you think that you're the only mom who doesn't have it together, you're not. The uber mom is a myth, an idol, one that needs to be thrown away and replaced with a better model. A mom who loves her children with all her heart, and does her best.

Next time you're tempted to plunge yourself back in the mommy guilt pool, ask yourself these questions.

  • Does this really matter? In 20 years, what do I want my kids/friends/spouse to remember about me?
  • Is this practical? Is it realistic?  Is it obtainable?
  • Why do I want to do this? Is it important to me and my family or am I doing it because I want people to think I'm something that I'm not? 
  • Does this (idea, plan, article, etc.) inspire me to be a better mom (role model - a worthy goal) or does this make me feel like a failure as a mom (idol - unrealistic expectation)
Keep up the good work mamas! What you do is important, and who you are is important! There's no such thing as a perfect mom. Do your best and forget the rest!



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