Recently I spent a rare kid-free day at a conference with a dear friend. Cathleen is one of those friends you wish you could share more cups of tea with.  Nowadays, our paths don’t cross nearly as much as they used to before I was married and a mom, back in the days when I’d run into her at the gym and we’d catch up over working out.

Cathleen is a mom of three, and her professional life involves lots of “caring,” “mothering”-type work with both groups and individuals.  At one point during the conference, the speaker said something that prompted Cathleen to lean over and whisper to me a story about work that began, “I had to put on my Supermom cape…”

“You have a Supermom cape?” I whispered back, incredulous.

About once a week, I find myself reminding my girls that they did not inherit a mommy with superpowers. I cannot locate a missing toy that they last touched an hour ago, in some location unknown to me, when I haven’t laid eyes on said toy in over a week.

I cannot wave a magic wand and instantly heal a hurting boo-boo, nor will those comfort measures I can offer – whether hugs and kisses, bandages and triple-antibiotic ointment, or an icepack – instantly undo the damage from a careless fall, or a mishap involving something they weren’t supposed to touch (let alone weaponize) in the first place.

And most of all, especially at lunchtime, I can only do one thing at a time. I cannot simultaneously process two or more requests. I only have two hands.

And requests – whether for ice in one’s water cup, or more food, or a cup of milk, or an extra napkin – get processed first in order of politeness. The superhuman version may not care, but this Human Mama responds most quickly when kiddos remember to say “please.”

It’s one thing to remind a kitchen full of hungry offspring at least weekly that I’m only human. It’s another thing to remind myself.

I am not the perfect mother. I can, and do, make mistakes.

Especially when I’m hungry or tired, or it’s been too long since I’ve had a moment to myself.

There was a generation of mothers who thought it selfish to put their own needs first. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t take care of myself – from regular sleep, food, and exercise, to taking time for myself each day, even if it’s only a few minutes of reading or crocheting before bedtime – then there’s no way I have anything left to give to my darlings.

While I’ve discovered tips and tricks and shortcuts along this journey that sometimes make me feel like a super mom, I am not Supermom.

Even if I sometimes pretend to be one, for the sake of someone else.

And the more often I remind myself of that fact, the more sane I remain.

No human being is perfect, and not having to be perfect takes a lot of the pressure off.

Now, if only I can get my kids to remember I’m only human, the next time they’re at the lunch table firing off requests with machine-gun rapidity.

P.S. – I’d originally intended to publish this post several weeks ago, as a good back-to-school reminder for all of us. Then back-to-school for the girls coincided with a sinus infection that knocked me for a loop. Guess I needed one more reminder from the universe that the title of this post still rings true!

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