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Stop Calling Me "Super Mom"

I was at Target the other day. (Seriously, 80% of my stories start this way.)

Anyway, I was at Target waiting while the checker ran to pick something up for me. I was just standing there with my crazy crew: one baby strapped to my chest, another buckled in the cart, toddler sitting in the basket of the cart. Everyone was getting a little fidgety and bored. Mom included.

2014-12-17 09.46.12Another customer in line said my least favorite phrase, but most often heard when out with all these small children. “Wow! You’ve got your hands full.”

And because I’m awkward and weird, I just said. “Yeah. I guess.”

Then she said my second least favorite phrase. “You are Super Mom.”

No. Just stop. Please stop calling me “Super Mom.” It’s not encouraging. It’s weird. You don’t know me. All you know is that I have a lot of small children which just means I know how to procreate.

Plus, pretty much every mom I know immediately dismisses the “super mom” compliment as soon as it’s issued. We know our faults and failing-- and you, dear stranger, do not. You don’t know us at all.

So just stop calling me “Super Mom.”

Even my mom friends say it. We drop this “Super Mom” compliment on each other, but in a way that really sounds like we're saying, “You are way more capable than me and just plain better.”

No. I’m not.

I’m not more capable or better at ANYTHING just because I have twins. Or because I have three kids. Or because they are all under three. This has nothing to do with how well I’m doing this mothering thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate a compliment. I know there are things I’m great at and I know there are areas in which I am an utter disaster. But that’s the point. There is no “Super Mom.” We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we all rely on God to fill in the gaps.

Do you know what I’d like to hear instead?

“Keep it up!”

Keep up the good work. Fight the good fight. Keep going. Persevere.

What that woman who called me “Super Mom” didn’t see was my sweat stains under the baby carrier or how hard I was biting my tongue with my toddler or the number of deep, cleansing breaths I had to take as I forced my infant to stay SEATED in that DARN CART!

“Keep it up!” would have been quite welcome.

I had just done battle in the aisles of my local Target, and I had the pit stains to prove it.

Don’t call me “Super Mom.”

I’m just a sinner giving it my best effort. Compliment that, and maybe you’ll give me the energy to keep it up.

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Showing 24 comments
  • Avatar
    Debra A Wachter
    Reply

    Seriously? You’re complaining over a compliment. Better yet, you’re trying to control the conversation between you and a stranger by saying this compliment doesn’t sit well with me, use this one instead. “Fight the good fight”, that’s a biblical reference. Are you assuming every person you meet can quote the Bible? We don’t always meet those of the faith or any faith for that matter.
    No wonder people are so disconnected. The woman was trying to be nice and it wasn’t good enough to your standards. Can’t you just accept the fact she meant well and it probably gave her joy to see you out with your little ones. Maybe she was reminiscing her days of toting around toddlers. Stop dissecting every conversation and just enjoy that someone complimented you. Stop judging compliments and the compliment maker.

    • Avatar
      Allie Lite
      Reply

      Debra,
      I don’t think you quite understand what is being said here… All that she is saying is that she is a full time mom, doing her best and she too could use a little encouragement. She identified her human-ness and her sin and shortcomings. She identified that as a mom, we are sometimes quick to dismiss compliments (backhanded or not), especially when exhausted from toting kiddos up and down the aisles. She was not “complaining”, in fact she DID say: “Keep up the good work. Fight the good fight. Keep going. Persevere.”–IN RED nonetheless.

      I say: Good job Momma Marie! Keep up the good work, and fight the good fight! Your kids thank you for all you do!

    • Avatar
      Courtney
      Reply

      Maybe she wanted to write something that is relatable to other mothers, it’s not worth getting fired up over.

    • Avatar
      Cathryn White
      Reply

      Ouch. Ok, that was harsh but I hear both of you, Marie & Debra.

      Marie, you are doing great keeping everyone’s heads above water (enough of the time your heads are above water!). As a mom of two sets of twins born 3 years apart, I can relate. Now that my kiddos are 11 and 14, I look back and marvel that I even survived…it’s a testament to God and all the help He provided through family, mom’s day out, etc. I agree that people felt the need to comment when they saw my double stroller, but to be honest, I rarely shopped with my kids. I usually left them at home with dad on evenings and weekends so I could enjoy a glass of wine while I grocery shopped (praise the Lord my local Whole Foods makes this possible & sorry if drinking in moderation offends your religious sensibilities). I know you are already digging deep to bite your tongue with your toddler or take deep breaths with the twins, so it may not be possible to respond to those comments with anything other than a weak smile or nod. I tried to agree and use it as an opportunity to point to God by saying,”yep, it’s thanks to the Lord that I take one day at a time. Sometimes it’s one hour at a time.” The best gift someone can give me is to pray that my well-of-patience runs deep and that my sleep counts as double or quadruple. You already know from where your help comes (Ps 121), so keep on persevering. I’m looking forward to binge watching Stranger Things and Madame Secretary this month and I’ll say a prayer for you every time I turn on Netflix! No matter what, you got this. Not because you are enough but because He, our Super God, is enough. With you in Christ.

    • Avatar
      Becky Hunter
      Reply

      As a mom of 4 children, I fully understand her rant, though. I HATED hearing, “You’ve got your hands full!!” Yes, I had two babies born 16 months apart and an elementary school aged child in tow. No, I was not a single parent. My husband was out to sea. It always sounds so backhanded and full of sarcasm. Like, “Wow, you have way too many kids!” The Supermom thing is lame. Just say my kids are cute or something. You know what I always did love to hear? That I had blessings or that I was doing a good job. Supermom sounds patronizing, really. After I had my 4th child, I didn’t go shopping without my husband. I also stopped hearing the patronizing words about how full my hands were. Do the math. When people say things like that, they are probably fishing to see if you’re on welfare so that they can judge you while pretending that they’re complimenting you. Trust me, I’ve lived this.

    • Avatar
      Katherine
      Reply

      I get it. I get that the woman giving the compliment is just seeing a snapshot of a mom with three small children and has no idea how super of a mom she is. I never know how to respond to that compliment either (I have 4 small kids) because I sure don’t feel like a super mom. “You got this” or “keep it up” would be much more helpful when I am struggling. I don’t think the author is criticizing anyone or overanalyzing anything. It’s a gut response to that phrase, maybe because I don’t feel worthy of the title.

      • Avatar
        Jan
        Reply

        Well… another perspective for ‘You’ve got your hands full!’ Is, ‘wow! You’ve e got all these busy kids and you’re all the way to the checkout! And no one died!?’ Grace, girls….Grace.

    • Avatar
      TJW
      Reply

      I agree with you. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to choose the compliments we receive. If you need to hear something in particular from time to time or regularly, I think it’s fair to ask a loved one for that, but from a stranger, I don’t think that’s how it should work. God is working through others and we have no control. We need to let go.

      Also, “super mom’s” are fantastic. I know I have one. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Sb
      Reply

      I was automatically subscribed to the Lifetree emails after I registered my child for vacation Bible school. I had to unsubscribe after receiving this ridiculous article in my inbox. I have three children as well who have long blonde hair and happen to be all boys. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t I don’t get the comments, “Wow, you sure do have your hands full” and “You have such beautiful girls!” when I am out with them. The truth is yes, I do have my hands full of beautiful children. Do people notice them and me struggling at times and want to comment to make a connection? Of course! Sort of like been there, done that so I know how you feel, Mom! It’s a reminder that I am not alone and it’s a reminder that God blessed me with three beautiful children. Count your blessings and if peoples’ silly comments bother you, simply ignore them.

  • Avatar
    Patty
    Reply

    Eek, I give compliments like that but don’t mean to offend. I had my 3rd child when my 1st was only 3 1/2 years old. When I see a mom out with 3 young children I remember the challenges of trying to get my own 3 children fed, dressed, into the car, buckled, then situated into a shopping cart, all the while praying that no one started crying or used the bathroom during our quick outing. I think other moms relate to how difficult it is to get out with young children and I know I’m impressed when I see someone who was up for the challenge!

  • Avatar
    Leah
    Reply

    Thank you for your honesty with this article. I have felt similar about different compliments. People think they are being nice and meaning well, but the compliment is not real it is an automated response because we have become a society of surface level people. I have a good voice (given to me by God) and I use that voice to sing at church. I have stated before singing that a good voice doesn’t mean anything if God doesn’t use it to speak through. The only thing I get is “You sounded good.” I know that they are trying to be nice and I appreciate the fact that they think they are lifting me up but inside I feel like they are not listening to me at all and are not truly getting the point of why I sing. I could care less if I sound good what I want to know is that it touch your heart, brought you closer to God. things that matter. Not it sounded nice. While it is not the same thing as “Super Mom” I believe it along the same lines and I just wanted you to know that you are not the only on that feels similar. Especially with the other negative comment posted. While having 3 children may not make you a good mother and having a good voice doesn’t make you a good singer. God can do both. Thank you for following Him.

  • Avatar
    Annalisa
    Reply

    @Debra A Wachter. This article resonates with me. I’m a mom of four and when I go out to the grocery store, more often than not, I’ve heard (with negative connotations attached), “Wow, you have your hands full.” It’s not encouraging and I think that is the point of this article. More strangers will say the dumbest and most unwelcome things to a mom trying to take care of her family and run errands with young children in tow. If my hands were truly full, I’d have 10 children because a handful is five, not 3 or 4 and most of us have at least two hands. I know what this feels like and I make it a point to say to young moms with several little ones, “Keep up the good work.” It’s a hard job and it is nice to get an atta boy from another mom since we aren’t in the office to get “Employee of the Month” award from our boss for a job well done. I agree with this momma about what I like to hear and don’t like to hear. You can read what is inferred when people say things and it is not always a compliment. When someone is being rude, there is an instant distancing or disconnection. Thanks for writing this Marie! I think Debra is too far out of her child-rearing days and has forgotten what it is like. She might need to check out the plank in her eye in regards to judging others. Keep up the good work! You are a voice for all of us mommas because I’ve said the same thing to my husband before.

  • Avatar
    Mom
    Reply

    I completely understand! “Hang in there”, is what I prefer. Its always nice to hear I’m not alone 🙂. Thanks for sharing.
    (Mom of 4, 7 and under)
    Ps. I also love your about me write up! It made me laugh and say yup that really about sums it up!

  • Avatar
    Heather
    Reply

    Just try to take these friendly people as they intend; not everyone is going to have the perfect phrase. I have four kids and two are twins and everyone says “you have your hands full!”, but it’s completely true. When I get a random compliment from a stranger about my parenting, I just hope they are seeing something I don’t see! Grace and blessings to you!

  • Avatar
    Gina Lee
    Reply

    Thank you for this article. It was refreshing for me, and rand very true. I get “You’ve got your hands full”
    ALL. THE. TIME. My response is “of blessings!” because that is what my 5 children are to me – blessings! Sometimes those blessings are a pain, but they are still blessings and who am I to say what a blessing should look like? Being called Super Mom is so awkward as well.
    I like “keep it up” and I’ll start using that phrase for other moms. I want to say to them they are doing a good job whenever I see one , because I probably know what she’s going through, at least somewhat. And it can be so hard to be a mother, and so good all at the same time. Nothing like it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Avatar
    Cr
    Reply

    I just returned from a 3 days retreat, and I was the director. I spent 10 months working full time on it, dealing with my house work, and my 2 sons 10 and 8. I had meetings and work during the summer time while taking my kids to half days summer camps, entertaining them the rest of the day and trying to be a nice wife….after my retreat where I saw again how great is God, my husband and kids welcomed me with a sign that reads: “MOM, because superhéroe is not an official title”…..I really felt super good that they appreciate how I could handle all the work preparing the retreat and being a mom and wife, doing the best I could and sometimes feeling guilty that I was spending more time for the Lord than with them. With that sign they made my day…..

  • Avatar
    TJW
    Reply

    I’m a big fan of superheroes. They inspire and encourage us to be more. In this day in age, I think our broken world could use a few superheroes.

    One of the things I love most about superheroes is their faults; their short comings and the challenges they face on a human level. It’s what makes them relatable. They aren’t perfect. In fact, they are flawed, like us.

    Superman, humble, yet nearly indestructible can’t possibly save everyone and is often times faced with situations where he just can’t win (how often do we experience those scenarios and need to lean on God for direction). Batman seriously needs others in his life to lean on and care about. Spider-Man, he gets to balance being a teenager AND saving his neighborhood on a regular basis (as if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough). Wonder Woman, she struggles to understand how the world works and others doubt her ability to save the day because she is a woman (boy, are they wrong).

    I believe we are all superheroes. God gave us gifts to share with the world. These gifts certainly aren’t super powers, but they are personalities, talents, challenges, experiences, families, and friends. We should all own our inner superhero from time to time.

    Wear your cape with pride. Yeah we don’t know your whole battle. Strangers don’t know who you are and your life behind the scenes, but we each have a battle taking place. When someone gives you a compliment, soak it in. They recognize your humanity and are really lifting you up in the moment. After all, that’s what we need to do as well as God’s children. Though, the favor can be returned to us once in awhile as well.

    In closing, please don’t make “super mom” a bad thing. I can’t say for sure, just like you can’t say every mom dismisses the comment “you’re a super mom,” but I think there are millions of moms out there who would feel encouraged by those words. Life is hard enough. Accept the compliment. Mom’s are super, flaws and all.

  • Avatar
    Connie Scruggs
    Reply

    You may have been biting your tongue and sweating and feeling like you were about to lose it, but you weren’t losing it. You weren’t yelling at your kids. You weren’t blowing a fuse. That’s what makes you supermom. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about trying and doing your best. It’s about failing and starting over. Apologizing when you mess up. That’s what a supermom is. She’s not doing it right, it’s not easy for her. But she’s there, sticking it out. Doing the hard stuff, exhausted, dreaming of running away from home.
    You do have your hands full. I only had two children, but they were 15 months apart. There were lots of days I had my hands full. Days I needed extra hands and had to call for backup. That’s okay.
    Your hands are full, but so is your heart. It’s not an insult. I love seeing moms with small children. I actually miss those days now that my kids are grown and have their own hands full with their children. My hands aren’t full anymore, but my heart still is. It’s full of the memories, good and bad. And it’s getting fuller with the new memories we’re making.

  • Avatar
    Stephanie
    Reply

    We need to be full of grace and love. We must not put importance on people’s comments or labels. There’s no need to call anyone out. I’ve heard so much of this lately. I’m not sure what’s going on? What parents are doing to keep their head above water these days is Super. I’m honored to be one and to know plenty.

  • Avatar
    Sepha
    Reply

    I’m a mother of two daughter, trust me how we mothers are and what we go Thur with with children each and everyday, I’m sorry but I love and take any compliments any people gave me especially with my girls, for me it’s makes me feel not alone and lift up kind of feelings, my hubby in the military, he goes out there a lots, so for me, every time people stranger compliments me and my girls, I really appreciated it. It’s really helps me keep going and been more stronger and felt that I’m doing a great job with my girls. Well I believed we people have our different ideas in what others think and say about us.

  • Avatar
    Rebekah Davenport
    Reply

    When ppl say I have my hands full with my 3 littles, I take it as a compliment, smile, and say “yes, full of good things.” The stranger always smiles, my kids hear me and smile really big, and I am reminded how blessed I am to be their mother.🙂

  • Avatar
    Tricia
    Reply

    I get where you’re going with this, but I do think it sounds judgy and ungrateful for a nice thing someone was trying to do. When people give me this compliment or others like it, it does make me feel good that I’m doing something right in this crazy life of trying to raise little people, and it brightens my day that someone tried to reach out to me.

  • Avatar
    Kim
    Reply

    Yes! I totally hear you. We’re all just grinding through. There are days when dishes are left in the sink and laundry needs to be folded and papers need to be graded. Most days I feel so behind and do not feel “super”. But God has blessed me with those days sprinkled in where one of my kids succeeds in this area or that and my heart swells with pride (the encouraging kind). I tell myself “good job” (usually those are the moments others don’t see the little triumphs) and tuck the memory away in my heart like Mary did. Personally I hate being called “super mom” because it’s usually done in a manner to excuse the other person from any obligation to help. It’s a “your amazing, you’ve got this, I’ll just admire you from here” stance. We all need encouragement and a helping hand.

  • Avatar
    Susan Moon
    Reply

    Wow, just wow. My children are in their 20’s and I STILL understand what you mean. I always said to myself, “If they only knew”. The struggle is real! My desires, hopes and dreams for my children were never far from my mind. Sometimes when I looked at the reality it was SO far from any of that. Now, at Target, when I see a young child who is doing something really nice, I say, “What a good helper!” or “It’s so nice you share!” thus avoiding the Mom disclaimer, and showing her I see the good she has done. Keep up the good work!

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