This is a great read, long but worth it…
I’ll be honest with you, in my house the beds are rarely made unless someone is coming to visit. Sometimes I yell. My closet is a disaster and I feel guilty that I work too much. My kids watch more TV than they should. And I simply cannot afford to go all organic right now. There is a sticky shelf in my refrigerator that I keep hoping will evaporate on its own, and this morning I had to send my son off to camp with a PB&J made with frozen waffles because I forgot to buy bread. I’m not perfect. There, I said it.
This whole supermom thing has become cliché, and frankly, I’m getting a too old for it. It was a fascinating social experiment, watching the women’s movement evolve from “you can have it all” to “you need to do it all (and do it all perfectly)”. No you can’t. I’m calling bullshit. Show me a woman who can do it all, and I’ll show you a woman who has hired help (and something to prove).
Supermom, as a subspecies, has outlived her usefulness.
Here’s the thing: Perfection doesn’t even exist. Perfectionism is purely a mental, alienating, and unnatural state. It causes judgment and makes people feel bad. How can that be “a good thing”?
We kid ourselves (and do a disservice to our kids) by thinking anything will ever be perfect. Everyone struggles at some point in this life. Everyone. It is our duty as moms to make sure our kids know that, and are prepared for the hurdles life is bound to throw them. Supermom may have the best dressed, most mild-mannered, French-emersion educated children ever, but mine know how to make their lunch, dress a wound, and pick a lock. Who’s laughing now?
Just the other day, I was on a plane and saw Gwyneth Paltrow in this month’s Vogue. She’s striking a glamorous pose in her kitchen, preparing “easy!” locally grown, organic, vegan, after school snacks in an $865 Michael Kors crepe flounce skirt and and 7 inch Louboutins. Her hair looks amazing, and there are a few toys tossed about (but not a kid to be found). Really Gwyneth? Is this how we’re going to play? I didn’t look that elegant at my wedding, dammit. Thanks for making me feel bad.
I get it — it’s art. It’s Vogue. I would like to publish my own magazine called, “Half-Assed”. It would celebrate the imperfect mom — the renegade who can make an impromptu gift bag out of a Happy Meal box on the way to the party. The mom who believes if somebody made it, then it’s homemade. Need a cave-man costume for school — TODAY? Our gal’s got a pair of scissors, a sharpie, and paper grocery bag at the ready. Quit squirming, it will look fine.
One last confession: I used to be a Supermom (well, I tried really hard). I used to throw these crazy Dios de los Muertos parties every year. It was what I lived for. Very much like Burning Man or maybe even the Olympics, preparations began far in advance, the budget could support a small developing country, and I was a total mess the whole time. It took a fairly serious party injury for me to realize that maybe I was in over my head.
The day of the party had arrived. A hundred and eighty-five of our closest friends, neighbors, and coworkers would be showing up at my doorstep any minute. As usual, I was dead set and determined to make sure every last one of them would be thoroughly impressed and amazed by my domestic superiority.
I’d spent weeks poring over every detail, and it was finally coming together. Freshly squeezed lime juice and crushed mint for the mojitos? Check. Authentic Oaxacan festival masks hung on the foyer staircase with care? Check. Homicidal threats made to any child who might decide to trash their room? Check.
Candles flickered from every surface, the aroma of sliced mango and toasting tortillas filled the space, and I’d finally finished the pièce de résistance: a hand-made Day of the Dead Altar, consisting of family photographs and hand-illustrated memorials hung by ribbons from painted tree branches. All this I placed on the foyer table in a beautiful crystal vase. As I gazed up at my magnificent creation, I said a little prayer, a prayer for anyone who might be foolish enough to even think about touching it. It’s just for looks, people!
As I glanced at my reflection just moments before the first guests were to arrive, I noticed a tiny smudge at the very top of the bathroom mirror. Initially, I tried to ignore it, but it eventually wore me down. “Martha Stewart would never host a party with a smudge on her mirror”, echoed through my head. So, I ever so gingerly scaled the bathroom countertop, in my heels, and stood on stretched tiptoe to remove the offending smudge. That’s when I slipped. My big toe broke the fall by breaking itself. It was at that very moment, as I lay on the floor, crying in pain, that I looked up and saw that I’d only made the smudge worse…and did I smell something burning?
Yes, something was burning, but that was the least of my problems. My toe swole up like a baby eggplant, and I ended up hobbling around in Crocs all night. I couldn’t run around making sure everyone’s drink was full, I couldn’t bus the tables, and I couldn’t assemble those cute little sugar skull TO GO packages I was famous for. And you know what? It was the best party I ever threw. I got to sit down and be with my family and friends. I’ve learned over the years to actively participate in my life; not to just cater it from the sidelines.
It’s time to redefine what being a good wife, mom, hostess, and human being means. I don’t want my kids growing up with memories of how clean the house always was. I want them to remember the fun and the love. Who cares what anybody else thinks? You want to make memories in your home. And sometimes when you’re making memories, you’re making a mess. Embrace the chaos.
While news of her death may be premature, Supermom is on life support. Maybe it’s time to pull the plug.
Lisa Quinn is a recovering Martha-holic, Emmy Award winning TV host, mother of two and the author of “Life’s Too Short To Fold Fitted Sheets; Your Ulitimate Guide to Domestic Liberation.”
In the tradition of Erma Bombeck and Peg Bracken, author Lisa Quinn — Emmy Award-winning television host and recovering Marthaholic — gets real on the follies of housekeeping. Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets is a crash course in Slacker Chic 101 that will have over-extended women everywhere laughing out loud and throwing in the towel — the dishtowel, that is. Full of shortcuts and tricks for cleaning, decor and entertaining, such as: the top 10 things you have to clean if you have company coming in 30 minutes; interior finishes that hide the most dirt; and much more, this wickedly funny guide helps women create the life they want without all the hard labor and without compromising style. For more information on Lisa Quinn, go to: LisaQuinnInc.com