They say that behind every superparent is at least one other superparent or other super-supportive person. Wait, they don’t say that? Well, they should. As a mom of two young kids, a writer, author, public speaker and activist whose life seems somewhat under control, I’m often asked, “how do you do it all?” Women especially have praised and looked up to me, admiring my seeming “Supermom” skills.
Allow me to crack the supermom myth. I wish I had mommy superpowers. I wish I single-handedly kept my household in one piece while driving kids to activities, writing several articles a month, helping with my family business, traveling, cooking and not totally losing my composure. But I do sometimes lose my composure and I hate perpetuating an unrealistic standard, so when people ask me how I do it all, my answer is that I don’t.
I have a supportive family and a whole lot of privilege. My parents and in-laws are integral parts of my support system and have been since my oldest was born. We have the financial means to afford preschool and recently received the gift that keeps on giving from my mom–a bi weekly housekeeping service. Our support system also includes a few good friends whose adoption we have tried, and we’ve grappled them to our souls with hoops of steel. I say this not to flaunt my good fortune but to make clear that I am not a supermom. (I am also aware that those without my privileges can be great parents and achieve their goals outside of parenting, but I’ve had help.)
All of the support is wonderful, but my rock and co-hero is Jesse, the handsome, smart, funny guy I married seven years ago today. I know it sounds unbearably sappy, so feel free to stop reading if you’ve gotten this far. But if you want a firsthand account of how being a superparent isn’t a one-person job, read on. By day, Jesse is a nerdy accountant, rocking it at the office with two computer monitors, all while listening to podcasts so he can live up to his human encyclopedia reputation. By night, he is a child wrangler, bath giver, dinner prepper, and dish doer extraordinaire. At least a few nights a week, I’m locked away all evening tackling a project while he holds down the fort.
Even better than Jesse’s holding-down-the-fort forte, he’s feminist as hell (swoon). Because of our partnership, our children see what a healthy relationship is. They see how partners’ strengths come together and complement one another. And they see that behind mommy making a difference is a proud, patient partner who helps make that happen.
I’ve had well-meaning friends and family tell me how “lucky” I am to have a husband who cooks and cleans, who changes diapers and “helps” around the house. While this man makes me immensely happy, confident and content, our situation has little to do with luck. I didn’t pick him willy-nilly from a lottery of potential husbands, I deliberately chose him because he’s smart, caring and had similar values and views on what our family would look like. And the icing on that cake? He’s just as perplexed as I am when strangers praise dads out in public with kids for “babysitting.” He knows that dads aren’t helpers and they don’t babysit. They parent.
Happy anniversary, Jesse. Here’s to seven more years and beyond. Thank you for being a great partner and dad, and for doing it so well that I project a supermom illusion. Thank you for holding me up and empowering my dreams. I acknowledge that without you, I would have to pick and choose between being a good parent or a writer or activist. Instead, I have the opportunity to try to do it all.
Author disclaimer: This is a sentimental, celebratory blog post. Subjects of glowing blog post may be more flawed than they appear.