I tried to be Super Mom way back in my early years of mothering. It didn’t end well. So now I’d like to offer you
no more super mom
as something I stand by and promote.
My essay titled “The Day Super Mom Died” was featured in The Mom Quilt ebook, benefiting the well project through Mercy House.
Read more about the project and order your ebook here. You’ll love all the inspiring stories and you can feel great that the proceeds are going to such a worthy cause.
I also wanted to share my story with you because I hope to write more in the coming year related to the “no more super mom” topic. I’d like to take ownership of the hashtag #nomoresupermom, too!
It’s a long one so grab a cup of tea and settle in.
The Day Super Mom Died
by Tabitha Dumas
It was 2008. My husband and I had been married for six years and our first son was three years old when we started talking about having another baby. I started a blog to chronicle our journey, never dreaming that we’d get pregnant on the first try.
We found out April 21st and enjoyed sharing our good news with friends and family. Our due date was December 28th. A New Years baby!
After an uneventful first week, I started spotting, then bleeding heavily. Over Mother’s Day weekend, we knew it was over. I remember crying in the shower, wondering “Why me??” We didn’t even make it past six weeks of pregnancy.
In the weeks that followed, I felt like a cloud of doom was following me.
I couldn’t understand why God would allow something like that to happen to me and I wondered if we’d ever be able to have another baby.
Three months later, we decided to “start trying” again. I was astounded when, yet again, we got a positive pregnancy test on the first try. Just like before, we shared our news right away and asked people to pray for us. After the six week mark, we felt like we could stop holding our breath and from there, the pregnancy progressed smoothly and was mostly complication-free.
I was about seven months along when the reality started to hit me: we were having another baby! That vague unsettled feeling turned into full-blown anxiety that I ultimately battled at varying degrees during the rest of the pregnancy and for many months beyond (and still do, on a much smaller scale). I lost my appetite, my hands and feet would sweat, my heart would race and there were nights when I was pushed to the brink of what I thought I could handle. I only gained 12 lbs. with the pregnancy and it definitely took a toll on me.
Eventually I was able to (mostly) overcome my anxiety but before I tell you more about that, I need to give you some of the back story.
Before the second pregnancy, I was a very busy woman. I was active at our church, teaching classes, overseeing the nursery, serving on the women’s ministry team and facilitating the mom’s group. I was also managing a direct sales business, running an Etsy shop, blogging regularly and hosting events in addition to the everyday tasks of raising our son and maintaining our home. My husband and I often passed each other in the evening as he came home from work and I left to go to a meeting or run errands.
What no one could see was that #1, I had grown weary and resentful of the constant busyness and activity. I was irritable and tired and while venting to a dear friend, she said, “It sounds like you actually resent what you’re doing.” That’s when I realized that I’d taken on too much and wasn’t even enjoying it anymore. #2, I was, without realizing it, trying to prove myself to God and earn grace. All my life, I’d struggled with feeling inadequate and unworthy. As a worker bee and do-er, I was trying to use the teaching, handmade crafts, blog posts and even my sparkling personality as a way to say to God, “See?? I’m earning my keep! I’m doing all of this for You!”
Looking like Super Mom had become my attempt to tell God and the world, “I am worthy! I am not a waste of space!”
The miscarriage was a wake-up call. I was trying to please everyone except the very people I loved the most. I was trying to “do” for God and prove my worth to everyone. The anxiety was like a cold sore that festers because you’re stressed–it was a manifestation of my inner turmoil.
Losing that pregnancy and realizing that I was wasting my life trying to be Super Mom made me realize how precious life is. It also gave me an opportunity to make a fresh start.
One year to the day after the miscarriage, our second son came home from the hospital. We settled into life with a newborn as we contemplated what to do next. Eventually we decided to put our house on the market, sell one of our cars and move into a rental just a few miles from my husband’s place of work. I stepped down from every leadership position at church, quit my direct sales business, and closed down my Etsy shop so I could focus on my boys, my new home, and my husband.
I can vividly remember after my husband and sons pulled away in the moving truck and I was sitting in the van alone in the driveway after cleaning out our house. I thought about when my sister-in-law had asked me, “Aren’t you going to be sad to leave that house?” We’d had it built six years prior and had so many happy memories there. Getting it ready to sell and moving out had been exhausting and I knew we had to do it all over again to move into our rental but as I sat there, all I felt was peace. I made a mental note that I wasn’t feeling anxious about it.
I knew it was time to move on, both from my house and from my old habits of “try harder” living. That’s the day Super Mom died.
The time we spent having one car and living in that rental was one of the best seasons of life we’ve had so far. Because our rental home was so close to where my husband worked, we often spent his lunch hour together. I had time to craft, read, bake, and play with our boys. And all those activities we walked away from? We weren’t missed.
So what did I learn from giving up the Super Mom persona?
As I continued to fully recover from my anxiety and the physical effects of the pregnancy, I had time to contemplate my identity and my purpose.
I realized that God doesn’t need me do-ing things for Him, He simply wants my attention, my worship and my obedience.
For someone like me who actually likes check-lists, it’s hard to accept love without feeling the need to reciprocate.
The “why me?” aspect of the miscarriage also gave me a chance to really look at the foundations of my faith and what I believed about my identity and worth. Teaching, serving, my businesses, the meetings…going from one activity to another and keeping my mind occupied was easier than looking at the truth…
trying to be Super Mom is exhausting.
I see busy women around me all the time and wonder, “What is she hiding from?” The fact is, we’re all hiding. I was hiding from the truth: God and I were not OK and I wasn’t OK with myself, either.
In the years since, I have been very careful to not take on too many activities or projects. I try to keep our home and family life as quiet and peaceful as possible. I may seem “busy,” but I assure you, it is all intentional and purposeful.
I spend quality time with God on a regular basis, I maintain only a few close friendships and I take care of myself so I can better serve others. I refuse to live a life of constant busyness–I was made for more than that.
The other hard lesson I learned was that my sons weren’t interested so much in play dates, homemade treats or how much I was doing for our church–they just wanted my time and attention. Ultimately, no one wants me to be stressed and resentful but it’s up to me to say “no” and to invest my time and energy into what matters most.
Now my life is very much in harmony but it takes constant maintenance to keep it that way. It’s so easy to slip into old habits but I make a point to assess my busyness levels on a regular basis and I have surrounded myself with people who respect my boundaries. I also take “me time” very seriously. I will never again let people take and take from me without replenishing myself.
The unfortunate truth is that Super Mom is a title women label themselves with.
In fact, right after the miscarriage, I grappled with the question of, “What’s standing in the way of you and God?” It took me many months to find the answer and when I did, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was ME. I was standing in the way. I was placing expectations on myself. I was filling my calendar with activities. I was giving until I had nothing left to give.
No one forced the cape on me–I donned it willingly it until it became the very noose that hung me.
I am a very different woman now, seven years later. I write stories like this in an effort to encourage other women not to do what I did. As mothers, it’s so easy to let other people tell us how to live our lives. God has plans for us and they don’t include running ourselves ragged until we’re of no use to anyone.
I see so many women wearing Super Mom capes. If I can encourage even one mother to remove her cape and embrace her true identity, my journey was well worth it.
I hope you enjoyed reading my story and I hope you’ll purchase the entire Mom Quilt ebook!
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