The first time I was called a supermom, I’d gone on a walk with my son. He was two weeks old, my firstborn, and I was battling some major postpartum anxiety. I had to get out – I hadn’t left the house since coming home from the hospital.
My neighbor watched me struggle with the stroller as I denied his help. I was still in a lot of pain from the birth and shouldn’t have been walking at all. I didn’t want to bother him by taking him up on his offer, so I struggled and finally got the hang of folding the stroller back up with my baby in a front pack.
“You are going to be a supermom!” he exclaimed.
When I was walking around with a swollen belly, pregnant with my third while I had a baby and toddler in tow, I got called a “supermom” whenever I went anywhere. People asked me how I was going to do it. They wanted to know how I got dressed that day, how my house was clean, why my kids were in matching outfits, and how the hell did I bake cookies?
The more people thought I was super, the more I thought I had to be super. I was in competition with myself, always trying to hold onto the role.
If someone was coming over, the house had to be perfect. Everything had to be made from scratch. I never missed anything. I ran from the time I woke up until I collapsed on the sofa at night.
My hair was always done. I always had a good-smelling candle burning. I planned a craft every day with my kids. We were never late, and I was always gleaming when I saw people.
But, I was dying inside. Because after I was called a supermom for the first time, I’d taken on that role like my life depended on it.
I was doing everything I could to outdo myself. I’d gone from being the breadwinner in my household to a SAHM, and I needed an identity that was bigger than just being a mother.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault – I didn’t have to push myself to the brink every day to impress others. This was my doing.
However, new mothers are vulnerable. They are taking on a new role which involves a lot of change. They are unsure of themselves. They know time is fleeting. They love this new person so much they lose themselves and don’t know how to get some autonomy back.
And so, many of them chase the title of supermom.
They need purpose. They need to be seen. They need to be heard. They need to know that what they are doing matters.
It wasn’t until after my divorce that I stopped cooking so much and worrying about how my kids dressed. I let the house go a bit. I went to the store without makeup. I stopped volunteering and started building a new identity based on what felt good to me.
That means not trying to appear to have it all together — because I didn’t.
This supermom culture is killing us. We are drowning. And when we finally ask for help, people are perplexed because they’ve seen us be the supermom for so long, they expect nothing less. They don’t think we need a damn thing.
But you can only play the role for so long. Trust me.
This article was originally published on