We’ve all heard it at some stage in our motherhood. It might have been from an acquaintance at work or a friendly neighbor across the street. It usually goes something like this, “I don’t know how you do it! You are a superhero!” But here’s why I think you should stop calling moms superheroes.
When you look at the simplest definition of a superhero, here’s what you get: “a fictional, usually benevolent, character with superhuman or extraordinary powers.” The first word that you see in the definition is “fictional” so that right there should steer you away from calling moms superheroes. In all fairness to comic book aficionados, there are superheroes that are mothers though. Yet in real life, we aren’t always benevolent and most certainly don’t have superhuman powers. We’re human – utterly and boringly human. But let’s move past the simplicity of this and focus on why people really want to call us superheroes.
It’s because people always seem to be amazed that moms, somehow, can do everything. We can work but also take care of our children. We can make dinner while putting a Band-Aid on a scraped knee. Moms can plan birthday parties and make all the doctor appointments while signing our kiddos up for summer camps. We, quite literally, can do everything. At least when it comes to our children and their needs.
Moms Carry the Bulk of the Parental Weight
Here’s the thing – moms are tired, like really tired. From the moment we wake up to the second our head hits the pillow (and let’s face it, all throughout our dreams), we live and breathe for our children, whether we want to or not.
Moms are tired of carrying most of the parental weight. It always lands on us, even with the best of partners. When our kiddos cry, who makes their tears go away? When our teenagers have their first heartbreak, who do they reach for to make it feel better? Their mothers usually. Even now, as an almost 38-year-old, nothing makes me feel better than calling up my own mother and having her tell me that everything will be alright.
We Only Have Time for the Bare Minimum
Personally, I’m exhausted from doing all of the things. And I’m sure as hell exhausted from hearing that people “don’t know how I do it all.” Honestly, I don’t. I don’t do it all. I do the bare minimum of what I need to do that day to get by. Because I’m exhausted, exhausted from scheduling doctor appointments, grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the house, playing “hot lava”, and waking up with the kiddo when he pees throughout the night. Does this sound like some benevolent character? No? Then stop calling moms superheroes.
And then some of us work outside the home full-time. Some of us stay home, many times alone with our kids. On top of all the work and typical household responsibilities, moms are usually the ones who deal with and carry the emotional weight of our kids. Sometimes, we even do that for our spouses, too.
Our own needs and priorities remain at the bottom of our list of “things to take care of.” We don’t have the time nor the energy after caring for our family and doing all of the things. We aren’t superheroes. Moms don’t have magical powers (as much as I might want some). We “do it all” because we have to, because that’s simply how things get done.
Alternative Phrases to “Moms Are Superheroes”
Stop calling moms superheroes and, instead, say one of these things:
- How are you holding up? I can’t imagine the weight you must be carrying right now.
- How are you doing? Can I come over and watch the kids to give you a break?
- How about I deliver some dinner to your house so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat while your spouse is out of town?
- Do you need to talk?
It’s honestly quite simple, really.
Moms Aren’t Superheroes, They Need Three Things
Because at the heart of it, moms need three things:
- A break. It might be a small one like needing somebody to watch their newborn baby so they can take a shower in peace. It might be a long weekend away without a spouse or kids in sight.
- A little help. We’ve all heard the term, “it takes a village,” and it’s true. Even the smallest of items on our “to-do” list adds to our stress. A filthy house could be remedied by someone offering to pay for a cleaning service. Not enough time to meal prep means we simply need food delivered to the house for the night. It might be that we need someone to go to a protest that we had wanted to go to. But couldn’t because of how exhausted we are.
- An ear. Moms want validation, that what we’re feeling is normal and OK. Sometimes we don’t want things fixed, we just want them recognized. Not everything needs an answer, sometimes things just need an audience to listen.
If you get nothing out of this post other than to reach out to a mom friend today, then I’d consider that a win. Make sure they’re doing alright, despite your eagerness to say how amazing you think we all are. Moms need some other superheroes to step in every once in awhile.