Alcohol. Illicit drugs. Those were not my preferred vices. I preferred the socially acceptable one. The one that no one questioned. The one that was rewarded, which of course, fueled my desire for this even more. 

“You’re like a real life Supermom!”

I don’t remember the first time I was told that, but I do remember how many years I spent chasing that affirmation. “Me? Oh no…” I would bashfully dismiss my friend’s comments. But inside, I was elated. “Yes! Someone SEES me. Someone sees all the work I’m doing! I matter.” 

I matter. Even typing those words now depresses me a little.

I had my worth so wrapped up in how other people saw me. The more praise I received, the more I felt like I mattered. The more I felt like I mattered, the more I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to hold on to that high. 

mom in a superhero outfit with hands over earsAccolades were my drug of choice. Please know, I am in no way equating the devastating reality of substance abuse addiction. I am merely sharing how my desire to be seen by others consumed me and led to my burnout. Because this desire to be seen as Supermom by others is consuming. And once you receive that title, you don’t want to lose it. 

The idea of not being seen as Supermom almost seemed like too much. But how could I not be Supermom when I’ve worked so hard to finally earn that title? Unfortunately, in order to keep something, you have to keep up. Essentially, when people see what you’re capable of, they begin to expect that from you. 

Maybe you never intended to be Supermom.

Maybe it started as a one time thing. “OK, I guess I can help with this.” So you do. And when you deliver in the impressive fashion that you are capable of, you hear it. “Wow! You did this? You’re so talented. How did you manage that? You’re like Supermom!”

Right there, that was your gateway drug. You get a rush, a high. It feels so good to be recognized, to be appreciated and seen.

You begin to forget what it cost you to accomplish that last task. “Oh it wasn’t that much work,” you reason to yourself. And like any smart dealer, they return, asking if you can help with this or cover that or create something incredible. “Gosh, I don’t know if I have time,” you wonder. They know exactly what you need to hear. “Oh come on. You’re Supermom! You can do anything!” Once again, you’re hooked. 

Of course this all begins to take a toll.

After years of being Supermom, you are not just living up to this demanding persona you’ve created. You’re also afraid that if you don’t deliver, you’ll leave others disappointed. You’ve created a vicious cycle and you don’t know how to end it. You wonder, “What will others think of me if I just quit?” So you power on, hoping that things will magically get better on their own. 

Here’s the thing. They won’t get magically better. Nothing ever does.

That’s part of the allure this drug promises you. It has you believing that your worthiness is tied to your productivity. And when you are no longer producing, you no longer matter.

Let me ask you something. How do you know that you matter? Is it that others tell you that they respect you? Admire you? Love you? Include you?

I find that when I use others as my measuring stick, I carry it with me everywhere. Didn’t get invited to that friend’s party? Clearly, I didn’t measure up.

No one acknowledged the centerpieces I spent hours arranging for the open house? Must’ve missed the mark.

And with every evaluation, my worth drops another point. And another. Like a scoreboard, slowly ticking down. I watch frantically afraid of when it hits 0.

Here’s the thing. Life is not measured on a scoreboard.

At the end of your life, no one goes to see how many points you have. There is no Life MVP. I’m sorry to tell you but the closest thing you’re gonna get to a trophy at the end is a tombstone. 

And yet, we act like life is something to be won. We compare and compete. We size up and struggle. We become so short-sighted and think that the goal is to become Supermom. We think that if we’re on this Supermom pedestal, it prevents us from being criticized. But guess what? Others just have a better view to pick you apart. 

You will never be able to do enough. And that is OK.

No matter how many killer spring play costumes you sew, how many amazing gluten-free brownies you bake, or how many soccer practices you shuttle your kids to, your scoreboard will always fall short when you see life as a competition against others. 

So what’s my suggestion? Easy. Throw out the scoreboard.

Toss that sucker right into the recycling bin. Dust off your hands and walk away. And on your way out, rip off that Supermom cape. The one that reminds you of all the things you need to do and all the expectations you’re supposed to meet.

I’m not telling you that you can’t be Supermom. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be.

I have several mom friends who absolutely love the sewing and the baking and the shuttling. And I know they do it because it brings them joy, not because they’re secretly hoping to be acknowledged and receive accolades. Yes, everyone loves to be appreciated. And there’s nothing wrong with calling out your friends when they do amazing things. I’m just here to remind you that your worth has nothing to do with your Supermom status. 

mother kissing son in a sunny field
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

You are worthy because you are here. Because you were born and because of who you are, not because of what you can do. 

I’m happy to report that I’m in recovery from my drug of choice. Sometimes I do get a craving and am tempted to fish out that Supermom cape. And when I do, I remind myself that it’s normal to crave the approval of others. Then I ask myself, “Am I wanting to be recognized and raved about by those around me because I need them to determine my worth for me? Or am I just needing a little encouragement?”

I find that when I’m disconnected from my dreams and desires, I’m also distanced from who I am.

Who am I? I’m a worthy individual, just like you. 

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