Friday, April 10, 2015

The Evolution of a Super Mom

I couldn't figure out the best way to start out today's post, so what I'm going to do is give y'all the 3 possible intros I have floating around in my head, and we'll go from there. And yes, they are all related...

So, I had a small mental breakdown last week...

I thought I was Super Mom until...


I finally had to come to terms with an important life philosophy of mine this week...

Yep, those are some pretty good stepping stones, so we'll just move full steam ahead, shall we?

I've always wanted to be "Super Mom." Back when I used to take my toddlers to work with me each day, and converted the back room of my store into a playroom for them, I started with this irrational idea. I could be the woman who worked a full time job, raised the kids, kept a clean house, was always on top of things, had an amazing marriage, cooked healthy, gourmet meals, was a milf, and was happy. That was my goal.

Uh, have I ever mentioned how much of an overachiever I am? If you are new here, then Hey! I'm Morgan, aka Tatted Mom, and I'm an overachiever. If you've been with me for a while, I'm sure you are just nodding your head right now.

My kids are 13 and 10 now, and while I took a break from the "Super Mom" ideal for a year or so back in 2009 when I decided I didn't want a family (my About Me page explains that huge mistake of mine in a nutshell), I've once again made it my personal goal for the last 5 years.

This year, I decided to put my ideal into overdrive. I already had an online store that wasn't doing too
bad for itself, and was a work-at-home mom, filling orders and running my store, along with cleaning house and just doing everyday homemaker things, during the day while the kids were at school. The school system started bugging me, and affecting my children negatively, so we decided to homeschool the kids, starting in January.

Let me rephrase. I decided to homeschool the kids. Hubby said, "Uh, Morgan, your store is doing pretty well, keeping you busy, and you blog, and you keep the house up, and cook, and run errands. Are you sure you want to add homeschooling the kids to that?"

Pffffttt. Duh. Of course I do. And, no, Negative Nancy, I won't drop any of the balls I'm juggling. I was made for this. THIS is my ideal goal, sitting right in front of me. So, Hubby agreed.

That was back in December/ January time frame. Fast forward to early last week. I climbed into bed about 1:30am or so, completely exhausted from just an average day, and tears started rolling down my cheeks.

Cue small mental breakdown.

I started word vomiting to Hubby about how the house was a wreck, I had 30+ orders piled up just from the last 3 days, the kids and I were behind in the lesson plans I had put together for us, we hadn't had sex in I couldn't even remember when because I was too damn busy during the day, and tired at night, and how I was still trying to read "Lord of the Flies" for the kids, but the book was SO difficult to get through, so I didn't even have enjoyable "me time" reading a chick lit novel or something else that I wanted to read, and how I had been in hella stupid pain for the last few weeks from extremely tight shoulder and back muscles- something that my prescription muscle relaxers (which I had to take every night, mind you) weren't even touching anymore.

Hubby simply said, "What part of this did you not ask for?"

Yes, yes, very assholish move on his part, speaking those words while his wife was in the beginnings of a small mental breakdown. He managed to escalate it quickly to the middle of a small mental breakdown.

He went on to say that I used to be a stay-at-home mom who cooked, ran errands, cleaned and blogged while the kids were at school. I was bored, so I started my online store. My online store started really becoming successful, but I decided homeschooling would be best for the kids. Now an average of 7-12 orders per day roll into my store, the kids are at home with their education in my hands, and the house, cleaning, cooking, grocery buying, laundry, running errands, etc. is still under my domain. By the time I'm done with ALL of that, it's 1:30 in the morning and I have no energy to read or have sex. All of these things, I made the decision to do.

I didn't want to believe his words. I wanted to tell him that he was being a big butthead and that I'm Super Mom, and I CAN do it all, dammit. I wanted to say these things, but I couldn't.

For the most part, he was right.

GASP! I know. Fingers crossed he doesn't read this particular post...

After I calmed down, and tried to logically process his words, I did bring to his attention that the only thing he really did was go to work in a day, so now that my store was becoming a full-time job, which neither of us could really predict happening, if he could start helping me out more when he sees something that needs to be done, that would ease my stress. I told him I'd start delegating more everyday household things, and then I asked him one of the most important things I could ever have asked him; something, I needed to do myself...

To lower expectations.

I am human. There are only 24 hours in a day, and for my own health and safety (and the health and safety of others around me) I need to sleep at some point during that 24 hour period, and illegal drugs that keep me going like a speed demon just aren't a good thing. I had this ideal, this unreachable goal, that I needed to do everything myself; that if I fell short of running a successful home-based business, keeping a spotless home, running all the house errands and executive household dealings, perfectly homeschooling my kids (above grade level, of course), cooking amazing meals every night, having time to workout and read, and have a healthy, happy marriage and love life, I was somehow a failure.

WTF, right? Talk about some self-torture.

The very next day, everything changed. I woke up with the weight of the world off my shoulders, pain free for the first time in weeks. I didn't ask anyone for help, or explain how things were going to change around the house. I just decided to change my perspective, to lower my expectations and see what happened. It was a pretty amazing experiment.

In about a week and a half, these are the differences I've noticed, since shedding the Super Mom expectations I set for myself:

~ My house is acceptably clean. The kids have had friends over, and I wasn't embarrassed when they walked in the door. The floor is wet swiffered, the counter tops are clear-ish. The carpet is vacuumed and the toilet seats have been wiped down. The kids and I spend 30 minutes on either Thursday or Friday to speed clean, and The Girl now knows how to use the electric floor mop. When something spills, someone cleans it up. If the floor is sticky, both of the kids have grabbed the wet swiffer and gotten it up. Everyone seems to be pitching in now, and not after I've yelled and screamed. There's a layer of dust on the entertainment center, and if you move any of the furniture, be prepared to be attacked by a dust bunny. My house may not smell like freshly squeezed lemons 24/7, but it doesn't smell like ass, either... unless Hubby has gas. But we have air freshener for that.

~ The kids actually ask to watch documentaries now. Before my experiment, I had exact lesson plans mapped out for each day, which included powerpoint presentations, worksheets and quizzes. The kids hated it, and tension grew in the house whenever I told them it was time to start schooling. I threw all of that to the wind, and the kids and I adopted a more relaxed homeschooling environment. They know the core items they have to do in the morning (math, grammar, typing, French and reading), which they do without grumbling, and now we watch videos and engage in question-and-answer based conversation to discuss what we watched for science and history. We had to watch the first half of a documentary on early colonial life the other day, and when we got to the middle, I turned it off because we had already covered pre-Revolutionary War. The kids asked to keep watching it. I was shocked, and happily obliged, of course. Learning has become fun again, and I don't need a test to tell the kids have learned it; they can have a conversation with me about the subject, which is pretty fun.

~ Sex is back on the table again... well, not the on the table per say. Y'all get what I'm saying, right?

~ I *finally* finished "Lord of the Flies" and happily started a witchy romance novel. Which I'm enjoying, very much, and I actually make time to read it.

~ I haven't taken a muscle relaxer in a week. My shoulders are still a little tense, but nowhere near compared to the tighter-than-a-whale's-blowhole I had going on before.

~ My orders are going out by their shipping date, which is all that needs to happen. Before, I was trying to get them out within 1-2 days of order, even though my ship time states 3-5 business days. I was killing myself to get orders out 3+ days early. I made an announcement on my store's facebook page that orders were taking the full 3-5 day turnaround as stated, and for some reason, business increased. I'm good with that.

~ I cook non-crockpot meals maybe 3 days a week... okay, 2 days a week. Hubby cooks on the weekends. And on "free-for-all" nights, the kids have been eating chef salads and other healthy shit that they make themselves. I know. My mind is blown, too.

Ooohhh la la...
~ I fit a short run to the grocery store into my daily post office run, just to pick up a few things we need. It has saved a HUGE headache of spending 2 hours in a grocery store to get everything for a pay period. I'm in, I'm out, and I'm not elbowing some snowbird in aisle three.

~ Did I mention I'm getting laid again? Yes? Well, it's effing important, thank you.

~ I'm seeing friends again, hanging out, laughing, drinking wine. Before, I was "too busy."

~ I work twice a day now on store stuff; before the family wakes up in the morning with a little bit of time into when the kids are doing their core studies, and again later at night after dinner, after family time with the kids, after about a 15 minute recharge nap, but before Hubby gets home from work. I'm awake when he gets home, and can spend time with him. Before, I was working 7-10 hours straight during the day, couldn't help the kids with any help they needed, didn't spend time with Hubby before he went to work, and was too exhausted to even be awake when he got home at night. Breaking my work day up into 2 smaller shifts was genius, and way more productive, not to mention way more stress-free.

~ I meditate again. Especially when being around the kids 24/7 finally gets to me. I light some incense, a candle, sit my ass down and my Zen state going.

~ I haven't worked out in over a week, which means I haven't lost any weight in over a week. But, I haven't gained, either, so that's a plus. I'm slowly coming to terms with my extra 10-15 pounds. Let's face the truth, anyway. I loathed working out. If it was anything more than a gentle yoga routine, I had to fight myself to do it. Now, there's no self-fighting, which is a good thing.

~ I do manage to squeeze in a blog post a week, now. Before, I was "too busy" to blog, too. And, I definitely keep the crazy going over on the facebook page.

~ Overall, the family and I both seem happier, the atmosphere in the house is calmer, we laugh more, are more productive, and want to help each other out more. The house is not spotless, the laundry has sat at the foot of my bed, waiting to be folded for a week now, I don't bust my ass to cook a time-consuming dinner every night, and there are no quantitative tests being taken by the kids. But because of the overall result of this experiment, I'm caring less and less about those things that just 2 weeks ago, I obsessed about.

No arguments occurred for this change to happen. I think a lot of the stress from before was completely self-induced. I wasn't happy with how I couldn't juggle everything, so I yelled and screamed, creating a tense environment. The kids picked up that energy, bickered, refused to help with things, and fought me every step of the way on everything I asked them to do. Hubby resented never seeing me, so he pulled away, causing more stress on me. I'm not saying I was completely to blame in this vicious cycle; my family could have offered to help before I had my meltdown. But, they didn't have the same "priorities" I did; they didn't care about that one spot on the floor, or the fact that dinner may not have covered all of the food groups. Those were my stressors, brought on by my attempt to obtain this ridiculous status of "Super Mom."

Whoa. I just went all crazy couch doctor on y'all, didn't I? Mental breakdowns are good sometimes; they break the existing thought patterns and give you new ways of looking at things or processing them. My breakdown was exactly what I needed, and exactly what my family needed. I restructured my "priorities" and found out that many of the things I thought were important, that I almost killed myself to achieve, weren't even important in the grand scheme of things.

That overachiever inside me is okay with all of this, because I see the positives more than I see the negatives. I feel the amazing energy in my house, which causes me to not see so many of the dust bunnies. And, I figured out a loophole in the whole "Super Mom" status I'm so desperate to achieve.

Gone are the days of "Super Mom" being used to describe the woman who practically kills herself to live up to some ridiculous ideal that she has to to single-handedly make everything in her life and her family members' lives perfect.

Now, "Super Mom" needs to mean the mom who is great, awesome, magnificent, cool, groovy, incomparable, sensational, glorious, etc (yes, I totally googled synonyms of the word "super"). "Super" is not to be measured in the number of brownies you make for a bake sale, or how spotless your house is. It's not to be measured in how fast laundry is washed, dried, folded and put away (wait, we're supposed to put it away?), or how many food groups are covered at dinner.

"Super" is now going to be measured in the laughs of your children, the cuddle times with your family, and the number of arguments that are no longer happening at your house. It's now going to be measured in the minutes of relaxation you have, the number of ice cream dinners you make, and the number of times "I love you" is said in your home.

So, by this new definition of "Super Mom," I'm still rocking my label. And so are all of you moms out there. We're all "Super Moms" because we are doing the best we can for our family, and striving for happiness and stability in our children's lives. Now, "Super Mom" is completely obtainable, and something you all have already achieved.

That's the Evolution of a Super Mom, right there, and boy does it feel amazing!

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