That’s how I felt sitting in the hallway with my two rambunctious boys while everyone else got to sit in church. Every now and then, a self-pitying tear fell. I just wanted to take my boys to Mass on a weekday. All the other moms do it, some with four times as many kids as me! What a miserable failure.
And everyone knew it.
I had felt the sympathetic glances as soon as my toddler began to talk in Mass. I gave my little sister the death glare when she graciously stepped out and offered to watch one or both boys so I could go to Mass.
No. I’m their mom, I can do this, and if I can’t that’s my problem and I’ll deal with it BY MY SELF!!
Not my best moment. I left the church that day feeling defeated and spiritually drained, figuring that I’d just have to find a different church for weekday Mass if I wanted to go in the next fifteen years– one with a cry room, or a priest who is mildly deaf.
Because if there is one thing I can’t do, it’s let anyone see that I might not be fully in control of my family. I’m terrified of letting anyone see that I’m frazzled, and not the supermom of the century. I have to be the mom who can do everything by herself, who doesn’t need to ask for help, who doesn’t have meltdowns, and who absolutely never is to be pitied.
My first public mommy fail left me feeling defeated for the past two weeks.
I wrote a micro-blog on Instagram about the occurrence and bellyached about how I wasn’t supermom. One comment that stuck with me was from Ana:
The thing is, having it all together, and being perfect is not what makes you supermom. Your love and will to keep going and keep caring for your familiy in spite of [bad] days does!
I’ll read articles and posts all the time encouraging moms that this is only a season, that everyone has issues taking their kids to Mass, or Nell will tell us to rest in the mess, and I think, “Oh, that’s nice. I’m sure there’s a mom out there who needs that.” I don’t even want to admit to myself that I am that mom who needs to hear these encouragements!
There’s no shame and certainly no sin in being overwhelmed! There is nothing wrong with needing an extra pair of hands to get through Mass. There’s nothing wrong with letting your mom (or even your mother-in-law) come clean your kitchen as you’re recovering from childbirth. There’s nothing wrong with letting housework sit undone for one night so you can get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in a month.
I can still be supermom and not do it all by myself. The Avengers and the Justice League prove that. Some situations are too big for one hero to handle alone. I’ve got my Superman (shout out to my husband, yo!) on deck most days, but it’s not unreasonable to call in Wonder Woman, Batman, or even the Teen Titans when things get too intense for me.
All of us mommas have different strengths and weaknesses. If we want to do a supermom-worthy job of raising our children, we’re going to need to admit what those weaknesses are, and be willing to accept help.
As for that fear of looking incompetent, I’m fairly certain that the veteran moms in Mass that day knew well before Mass began that I do have bad days, that my boys aren’t angels, and that I occasionally lose my chill. The fantasy that I had everyone fooled probably made me look much more like a monologuing supervillain than the superhero I wanted people to see.
I’m going to go back to weekday Mass this week. And I’m going to ask my mom and my sister if they would help me when my boys get out of my control. Someday I’ll be able to manage them alone, and that will be a great day. In the meantime, I’m going to thank God that I have a little Justice League to lean on.