Monday, August 25, 2008

The Supermom's Secret

Psst. I know the secret to being a Supermom. I do, really. I’m going to let you in on it, too. But first you must be patient and listen to the story of how I got it. (Well, I couldn’t just tell you – that ruins the fun.) The other day I was lurking on a message board (I always lurk it seems, never posting. Plus I love to use the word lurk and lurking on message boards is one of the only times the word doesn’t have really bad connotations to it) and I came across a post by a woman who was at her wit’s end with the lack of support she gets from her husband around the house. She stated she works 40+ hours then has to come home to do all cooking, cleaning, etc. and the only time her hubby helps is when she berates him. She was looking for advice on how to change the pattern. There were lots of replies. And good advice, too, like have a sit down discussion about the issue, praise him when he does small things (on the pretense he’ll do more to get more praise), divvy up the chores and post it somewhere, etc.

All these are truly good suggestions and I’m sure they work for many out there. But not for me. As I read through all the answers, I kept thinking, “What if her husband is a clone of mine? What then? Because she’s out of luck with those suggestions!” I, too, am out of the house for 40+ hours per week, and my husband also is not the greatest on the domestic front. He simply doesn’t care. Doesn’t care if he gets all his clean clothes out of the laundry basket, doesn't care if every meal is fast food. Doesn't care if he has to squash trash into an overflowing can. I’ve tried everything, too. All the advice listed above plus more. I even put signs on the appliances. Our steam cleaner has a sign that says, “Hi! I work hard to keep your carpets clean, but please empty me! I stink!” (It still stinks, but now my husband calls the cleaner Betty.)

At one point I convinced him that we should “trade” dinner nights. We didn’t have to cook, necessarily, but just be responsible for the whole dinner experience. What to eat, where, etc. I shined on my first night, giving him a home-cooked lasagna and chocolate cream pie for dessert. (Notice I didn’t say homemade, just home-cooked. My little mini Supermom secret.) On his first night here’s what I got for dinner: A hot dog, a bag of chips, and a fountain drink all consumed sitting on the tailgate of his truck in the parking lot of 7-Eleven. Dessert was anything I wanted from the candy aisle. No joke! Now, to be honest, he did do it to prove how ridiculous he thought the whole thing was, but still. Still! 7-Eleven! You know what? He was okay with it. Let me repeat that. He was okay with it. It was me – all me – with the problem, not him. I need to point out that this occurred prior to having children, lest any of you think I would have allowed this experiment with my own flesh and blood – unless you’ve fed your kids similar meals because it was easy and you knew it would be a big hit, which in that case, maybe it’s happened a few times since then, too.

So anyway, it still comes down to this: I have a burning desire to be seen as Supermom. I must be able to work outside the house in non-wrinkled, non-stained clothing, serve hot, nutritious meals that I prepare, and have a house that doesn’t make me pretend I’m not home when I hear the doorbell. The problem is, I don’t know how to do this. I try, I really do, but I feel like a hamster on a wheel. One day, I finally break down and I ask my mother how she did it. How did she raise four children practically by herself with only two hands? Did little fairies come in at night and help her? She just looks at me blankly and says, “I don’t know. I just did it.” That can’t be true. I think she’s holding out on me. I press her. She denies it. I cry. She pushes cookies. I feel better (and fatter). And she tells me the truth. She says, “Honey, the trick is to only care about some of the stuff.” Huh? That’s the secret? Well that’s just dumb. That would make me just like my husband. That would mean…..aha! That IS the trick, isn’t it? Just decide what’s more important!

Gee. Maybe my husband’s been right all along. He decided that the house wasn’t important to him, and that’s just the end of it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that important to me, either. Well, okay, maybe a little important, but maybe not THAT important? Like, dishes are important, as is cleaning the bathroom (yuck). But maybe having perfectly folded towels isn’t as important as, say, ironing my shirts. I don’t have to do both. It’s okay to just do one.

So that’s it, then. The Supermom’s Secret, not to be confused with Victoria’s Secret, which is another article altogether. Decide what’s most important and forget the rest. Is this really all there is to it? It sounds simple enough. I’m sharing the secret with you, though, because I do think this is the answer. We spend our days convinced all other moms are doing it better than we are, but they’re not, are they? The ones who project that image aren’t really that perfect in all areas. They’re just “super” in the areas that are important to them, and they choose not to care as much about the other areas. Could it be that I can finally call myself a Supermom? Can I do this? Can I really live this way? I don’t know. I’m going to have to give it a try. I’m going to have to ask my husband what he thinks over dinner tonight. And I’ll treat him to dessert, too. Anything from the candy aisle.

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