Several years ago, my husband used to call me Supermom. And he meant it in the best way possible. My three children were ages 6 months, one and two years old. People admired how I held it together, had the house in order, dinner on the table and spent real time with my kids rather than sitting them in front of the television while I surfed online.
But I hated the moniker. Supermoms don't really exist, do they? And if they do, would you want to hang out with them? I wouldn't. All that perfection would be such a downer to the rest of us mere mortals who screw up on a regular basis. When someone's up on a pedestal, the only way off it is generally down and that's not a future I'd look forward to.
In reality, I was dying to go back to work. In the end, I had no regrets in giving up my career and salary so I could raise my own kids, nurse as long as I wanted without anyone telling me my "pumping break" was up and a lousy commute during our frozen winters was easy to say good-bye to. But after four years, something was missing. It was work -- good old solid graft; earning a salary and having to be accountable. Using my brain in the way I used to and having something else to talk about than Barney and Elmo and playdates. Going back to work -- and being able to work from home -- was necessary to make me whole again. And no, that doesn't mean that every stay-at-home parent is unfulfilled or feeling a bit empty -- indeed, being an at-home mother is a calling for many. But not for many others -- something that a recent study confirms.
The University of Washington followed statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor concerning 1600 married women in 2006. The average age of the women was about 40. However, these same women were also interviewed in the 1980s regarding their attitudes toward working moms. It turned out that the women who supported combining careers and parenthood were more likely to suffer depression that the women who were initially against it -- but turned out to be working moms twenty years later.
The title of Supermom sounds good on paper -- really good!