“A real woman always keeps her house clean and organized, the laundry basket is always empty. She’s always well dressed, hair done. She never swears and behaves gracefully in all situations and under all circumstances. She has more than enough patience to take care of her family, always has a smile on her lips, and a kind word for everyone.”
And the punch line of this popular Facebook status?
“Post this in your status if you too suspect that you might be a man …”
The image of the ideal, or “super,” mom has changed over the years from the June Cleaver-type described in the above Facebook post to the modern-day mom who dresses her children impeccably, carts them to every activity under the sun and spends hours each night helping with homework. All while cooking healthy homemade meals, keeping a spotless home and participating in every school and community event.
These days, mommy blogs and social media sites, such as Facebook, have set the bar even higher for moms to keep up with the Joneses.
Ann-Marie Berg, a Cedar Rapids pediatric nurse practitioner and mother of three, doesn’t believe super moms exist.
“No one is perfect,” she says. “And, parents should not pretend to be perfect lest they send the wrong message and unrealistic expectation to their kids. Perfection in any endeavor, if possible, comes only through experience.”
Each child is unique, making each parenting experience new and original, Berg, 41, says. Each family situation is also unique.
Before Tina Conroy, of Mount Vernon, became a mom, she worked in the banking business. After the first of her five children was born 15 years ago, she decided to stay home with her children.
“In most people’s minds, a super mom is somebody who has a career and raises children,” she says. “I’m lucky to be able to focus on the kids.”
Her decision to stay at home wasn’t without sacrifice, however. Her husband, Barney, works in the development office at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, providing the bulk of the family’s finances.
“I’ve become pretty good at stretching the dollar,” Conroy, 43, says. “We rarely buy anything new. The greatest idea I had as a parent was to purchase ‘experiences’ as Christmas presents.”
These experiences include season passes to a theater in Chicago which can be enjoyed throughout the year.
“I feel like we have the basics we need and they get the experiences,” she says.
While Conroy made the choice to be a stay-at home mom, she says there are two types of working mothers — those who don’t want to be a stay-at home mom and those who want to be, but can’t.
The rivalry between stay-at home and working mothers is pointless, Berg says.
“Women need to get their act together and start supporting one another rather than judging and criticizing each other,” she says. “Women need to empower each other, regardless of their stance on whether they choose to work or not. The goal is for children to grow up in loving and nurturing environments, which can be achieved in both traditional and non-traditional households. “
Kyran Pittman, contributing editor for “Good Housekeeping” magazine, juggles raising her three boys while working from her Arkansas home as a blogger and author. Her new book, “Planting Dandelions,” is a memoir of her family life.
“Before I had kids, I didn’t think I would make a good mother,” she says. “I never saw myself as the maternal type.”
She admits she had low expectations of becoming a mother.
“I was just happy if I could keep them alive,” she says. “It’s kind of astonishing that I’m actually a pretty good mom and enjoy it very much.”
Doctors, magazines and websites bombard mothers with yardsticks that children need to meet, she says. If children don’t meet these milestones, moms tend to blame themselves.
“Look around, our society seems to be in overdrive,” she says. “We always need to be measuring up. It seems if you’re not worrying, you’re not doing it right.”
Pittman, 41, and her husband, Patrick, raise their sons — 12, 10 and 7 — the best they can, she says. Their weekends are not filled up with soccer games and other activities and they don’t take extravagant trips they can’t afford.
“I look at my kids and see they are happy,” she says. “They are creative with what we give them.”
Getting worked up about what other families are doing based on their Facebook statuses or blogs is not a good use of your time and energy, she says.
“You’re looking at an edited version of life,” she says. “For all we know, a mom blogger may have an assistant or other support she’s not sharing.”
Readers need to take everything with a grain of salt.
“Do what works best for your family,” she says. “It’s not going to be the same for everyone.”
She also agrees the divide is overblown between stay-at-home moms and working moms.
“Let’s face it: mothering is difficult,” she says. “There’s a different set of pressures. It’s natural to think things are better on the other side.”
She encourages moms to focus their energy on their own children and lifestyles rather than others’.
“We need to chill out and respect differences,” she says. “Live and let live.”