the rise and fall of a super mom

Look! What is that figure hurtling through the air like a two-year-old’s toy? Is it an angel in sweatpants? Is it a flying mom-zombie? No, it’s . . . Self-Proclaimed Super Mom! Able to leap over giant piles of laundry, wipe a runny nose, bake a casserole and check her Blackberry in a single bound . . . yep, that's Super Mom!

Ooo, what’s this? Oh no! There appears to be a problem! Our heroine is heading directly toward the ground at a neck-breaking speed. Can she pull herself out of this situation?

Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark! Alright, people. Move along; nothing to see here. Just another mom, who thought she could do it all, making her inevitable crash landing back down to planet Earth.

* * *

I’m afraid there really is no way to fully explain the last few years and months of my life in a concise, interesting way. Yet, I feel before I go any further, I need to bring you a bit more up to speed.

In the last five years, I worked like a fiend as a home-based communications advisor and loved it. I had my first child Nov. 19, 2008. Slowed a bit out of necessity, but never stopped working. (As an example, after a difficult birthing process on a Wednesday, I was home from the hospital on Saturday and completed a conference call on Monday. I also submitted a 100-page project in my child’s second month.) I hired part-time babysitter in August 2009, so I could complete a few pending projects.

I started saskmom.com in January 2010 on top of my consulting work. I took on more and more consulting work so that I could pay for the babysitter each month. I was committed to spending time with my son, so I tried to fit all my work in during the 20 hours I had a babysitter. Couldn’t quite accomplish that, so I worked during any free time or me time that may have presented itself, and I robbed hours from the night so I could complete my work commitments.

I falsely thought that I could maintain a high level of work in a lesser amount of time with less sleep, and still be a patient, present, mother, wife and friend. I regret that those who love me unconditionally often were last in line for my attention. I was constantly bombarded by swarms of “shoulds” swirling around in my head. When I was working, I had to fight the inner dialogue: “I should sign Little J and me up for a mom and tot swim class. I should plan a date night with my husband to reconnect. I should really vacuum the floors today.” When I was with my family, I often thought, “I should return that e-mail. I should finish that project. I should write an article about this.”

The situation was much, much worse than I want to even begin to admit. Spread too thinly, I couldn’t really give my best to any aspect of my life. Due to lack of sleep and an overwhelming amount of to-dos, I crashed and burned in the late summer/early fall of this year. It wasn’t pretty.

I know I’m not alone. Many parents are under tremendous stress. In fact, in a recent survey, 91 percent of children said they often sense stress from their parents.

Despite the fact that the situation I found myself in was simply not sustainable, it also was not the example I wanted to share with my child. I want him to get much more out of life than being constantly on the run in pursuit of vain expectations.

I gave notice to my babysitter last month. I am re-prioritizing my work to that which I enjoy, can have the most impact with and can accomplish within naptime hours during these few, short pre-school years that I have with my son. (Thanks to the tremendous feedback of my readers and sponsors, saskmom.com tops this work-related priority list.)

As I stand over the ashes from the ceremonial burning of my Super Mom cape, I still can’t help but think that there is a way to “have it all.” Instead of taking on more, it seems the answer is to simplify. Purge all things that disturb the beautiful balance between a loving family, solid relationships, rewarding service, a healthy body, joy, hope and faith.

I am still working on letting go of unrealistic expectations of myself. The only truly worthy goal I want to concern myself with is sharing my love and my life with my family and friends. Instead of the tiring pursuit of perfection, I now pledge to embrace “imperfect” as my new “perfect.” Finally, I am finding presence in, and acceptance of, every moment I’m given.

By following a gentler, more realistic path, I think that I will look back in the end and find out that I truly was a super parent after all.

Please give yourself some grace today . . . and every day.



9 comments


Randi said...

Good for you. Thanks for posting this.

Kirsty Snowsell said...

I love you Laura! Well said my Friend, and we're all in this together, supporting one another as we navigate this very challenging road. xoxo Kirsty

Jenn said...

Well said Laura!

And you hit the nail on the head when you said having it all means to simplify. It took me a long time to figure this one out (and a breakdown as well).

I think for everyone the balance is different, which means how you simplify is different.

But balance there must be! Without it, the scale tips and you are either unhappy, shutdown, or breakdown. It may take a while for it to happen, but it's inevitable!

Everything we take on shifts the scale in favor of something. Every time we say yes to something or someone, we are saying no to something or someone. I think of this every time I'm asked to do something.

As a result, I've become quite protective of my time and how I use it. But I have found my balance and work to maintain it. I no longer feel guilty about the choices I make, which makes me a much happier person in all aspects of my life :)

Cheers to you and yours and finding your balance!

Laura Monchuk said...

Randi: Thank you for reading!

Kirsty: I love you, too. You need to know that the day you called me out from behind the mask and asked if everything was okay because I seemed a bit "distracted" -- that was part of the big turning point for me. I value the fact that I know someone I can turn to who is real, who cares and who shares similar experiences. You are an angel in dance shoes and a super mom.

Jenn: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your words of wisdom. I especially appreciate, "Every time we say yes to something or someone, we are saying no to something or someone." That is a powerful truth! I am going to go put that on a Post-It on my washroom mirror right now!

Kate said...

I really love your website and love that you provide us all with a monthly calendar. We check the site every weekend to see what we can do with our daughter. Your heads up for the Fall Fair last weekend was awesome! Our daughter loves cows and tractors, but is a city girl. We walked in the door and walked right up to a tractor. Then we took a walk and looked at all the cows... it was awesome, and we never would have known about it. I've been meaning to write you to let you know that we appreciate you. I hope you are doing better and achieving a work-life balance. So.. thank you!

Cori said...

this is a powerful post - thank you for sharing this. my wish is that other mothers/women/people come to realize this BEFORE they hit rock bottom.

love your site and all that you do! you are appreciated!

Laura Monchuk said...

Kate and Cori: Your thoughtful comments mean more than you can ever know! I really appreciate your sharing.

Cori: My purpose in sharing this is so that others may relate and perhaps avoid the big bump at rock bottom.

Take care and thanks for following, ladies!

Mamae do Nicholas said...

Dear Laura,
What a great honest post! I am tired of these so called super moms... who are they kidding? I love how you prioritized your life and work balance. I am sure you are a wonderful mom as you are a great professional, but as you well said above, you only have a few pre school years with your son, do you really want to 'outsource' that joy? Besides, your work will be there for you once you are ready to jump back in! You just cannot quit this site, it's very helpful to the other 'supermoms" haha
Marilena

Laura Monchuk, Saskmom.com said...

Marilena: Thanks so much! Parenthood presents us all with quite a balancing act, doesn't it?!

As Jenn eluded to before, "balance" looks different in every family situation. I am certainly the last person to ever say that moms cannot juggle a successful career and other interests while raising a happy family. I know many moms who are doing quite well with a career and with their families. Many make it look so effortless, behind the scenes those who I am closest to share that balance is a daily struggle. I know many moms who are at home full time with the kids, who would also admit that balance is a daily struggle!

I am very fortunate that I am in a situation in which I can choose to cut back on my earning potential and still maintain a workable family budget. I feel so lucky that -- thanks to Saskmom.com -- I still have a flexible, creative outlet for my skills and interests. When I honestly weigh out the balance, my current path makes the most sense to my family. Another family might not be able to say the same.

I have much respect for working parents -- as well as those who work in the home full-time -- who climb up on that tight-rope each and every day to provide for their kiddos the best way they know how!

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