Trying to be Supermom
Janine wonders if looking good is part of being a great mom.
News24 has reported on a study that proves most moms are overwhelmed by work, home and parenting responsibilities. Nothing earth-shattering there. Ask any mom, whether she works outside the home or not, if she’s happy with the amount of help she gets with household chores and she’ll recite a litany of reasons why that’s not the case.

It was this passage, though, that caught my attention: “Much of this self-inflicted grief is encouraged by media images of a super working mom who looks glamorous while cooking, washing, babysitting and holding down a full-time job. ‘… She wants to be the best parent with the best kids in the nicest house and look beautiful while she does it.’”

Hang on, are we really that shallow?

Of course we want to be good to our kids and give them the best of ourselves that we can. But are we really that concerned about how we look while we’re doing it?

Let’s face it. We’ve all been there in our heads at some point: there’s a mom you see regularly who seems to have it all together – full make-up as she drops the kids off at school, never a hair out of place, all smiles and skinny legs. You wonder how she does it, and it makes you do one of two things: either you silently hate her and continue to do the pyjama run, dignity be damned, or you try competing with her by plucking your eyebrows more than bi-annually and running up the stairs to get rid of that spare tyre around your waist.

I remember the feeling well: I used to attend a church where there were scores of women my age. We all got pregnant and had babies around the same time. Some of us carried our pregnancies beautifully, while others, well, didn’t. Some bounced back to their pre-pregnancy weight seemingly within weeks. Others just couldn’t. Some had children who could sit quietly for two hours while the service was conducted. Others were relegated to the “cry room” with children who felt more comfortable climbing the walls and pulling the place apart. We watched each other do all these things and some judged, while others didn’t. Some felt smug while others felt like failures.

The media is guilty of portraying images of the perfect mom, but we have to remember that it’s just the media. Women’s magazines have been struggling for years to do away with the portrayal of the anorexic model as the epitome of beauty. If we all know that only a minuscule percentage of women actually look like that, why are we reaching for an image that doesn’t exist?

The same is true of parenting. We’re all different and we all handle life’s challenges differently. There are moms who look like they’ve never had children and those of us who bear the stretch marks and the grey hairs that parenting has bestowed on us.

If looking good makes you a better mom, by all means, find time to go to the gym to work off those extra kilos. But feeling that you should look good just because your neighbour seems to be a super model mom is no reason to feel like a failure. One of the signs that you’re a good parent is happy children. Whether you look beautiful or not while you’re making them happy is immaterial.

Does it matter if you look good or not while being a good mom?

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