You Found a WHAT?!

This is a story you’re not going to believe.

In Mom to Mom, I frequently encourage young moms to focus on the things that matter most and to give up  “Supermom” expectations.   I admit that one of the things I gave up was fanatical super-clean housekeeping.  Order and organization—yes.   But obsessive cleaning in every nook and cranny—no.

Recently, however, our house has been looking better than usual because we are getting ready to put it on the market.  As part of that process, I had a cleaning team come in this week to help me out.   And you’ll never guess what they found.

Here’s how it went:

“Uh, Mrs. Anderson, do you have a bag or something where I could throw this away?”  One of the cleaners is standing before me with a strange look on his face, clutching what look like two white towels or dust rags in his hands.

“Oh, sure—just throw those rags here in my kitchen trash. “

“Um, um, Mrs. Anderson, do you have any stuffed chipmunks in your house?”

My mind scans the assortment of stuffed animals throughout our home.  A chipmunk?  I don’t think so.  But, well, maybe…

Before I can answer, one of the other cleaners approaches: “That ain’t no stuffed chipmunk!! It’s got bones and everything.”

“Yikes!  You’ve got a live chipmunk in those towels?!!”

“Oh, no,” the girl responds: “He’s not alive.  He be dead.  Very dead. Stiff, actually.”

This is the truth, I swear.  The cleaning team found a dead chipmunk in my house.  And what’s worse, guess where they found it? Under my bed!!Yes that’s right—under my bed!  It was wedged between the headboard and the wall in one of those impossible-to-get-to places that had not been cleaned, I can assure you, for a very long time.  Obviously.

How did this unfortunate little creature manage to get into our house and all the way upstairs to the master bedroom?   Here’s my theory: months ago (too many to admit!) we left for a trip just after our granddaughter, Gabriella, then 2 ½, had been visiting with us for several weeks.  There had been plenty of coming and going through our patio sliders, and I’m not sure they had always been kept closed.   Then, while we were gone, our burglar alarm was set off by a motion detector.  When we came home, we found a few mysterious droppings in odd parts of the house—including our bedroom and the tub in the adjoining bathroom.  At the time we thought it must have been a mouse, inspiring regular visits from the exterminator ever since.   Now I’m thinking it was another kind of visitor…

The moral of this story?  I don’t know.  Maybe “Don’t ever have a cleaning team  come to your house.  You never know what they might find!”

It’s very humbling to share this story.  But it’s just too funny not to.  At least it attests to my authenticity when I tell you I’m not a fanatical housekeeper.

I also think there’s more here.  How ironic that lately Woody and I have been complimenting ourselves on how great our house looks, given recent touch-ups and “staging” efforts as part of getting ready to list it.   We’ve been especially admiring of our bedroom.  Honestly—it looks really great!  On the outside, that is.

But what was it Jesus said about “whited sepulchers” and “dead men’s bones”?  I think there’s a deeper lesson here somewhere.  But that’s for another time.

For now, just laugh with me.  And take comfort in your own housekeeping struggles.  Surely none of you have dead chipmunks under your bed!

SuperMom vs. Truly Having It All

Recently, I was asked to speak on the topic “The Myth of the SuperMom.”  My first reaction was: the title says it all—SuperMom is a myth.

SuperMom simply doesn’t exist.  Not in real life, anyway.  SuperMom is a figment of our mom-imaginations.  She is the mom everyone else seems to be—and the mom we can’t seem to measure up to.  The imaginary mom we come up with when we compare our inside (how we feel about ourselves as moms) with everyone else’s outside (the “successful” moms we see all around us).

But this is a very persistent myth.  Years ago, Erma Bombeck wrote about “Sharon,” the SuperMom.  Sharon not only “color-coordinated the children’s clothes and put them in labeled drawers, laundered aluminum foil and used it again, planned family reunions, wrote her congressman, cut everyone’s hair, and knew her health insurance number by heart”; she also “planned a theme party for the dog’s birthday, made her children Halloween costumes out of old grocery bags . . . and put a basketball hoop over the clothes hamper as an incentive for good habits.”

The problem was, as Bombeck discovered long ago, everyone considered Sharon a SuperMom except her kids.  They preferred hanging out at a neighbor’s house.

SuperMom, it turns out, would not really be that great a mom after all—even if she really did exist.  Why?  Because real kids do not need a SuperMom.

They do not need a SuperMom because, first of all, SuperMom is FakeMom—a mom who is trying to impress everyone within viewing distance that she has it all together—and so do her kids.  The real story tends to be very different.  The real inside-the-house story.  Just ask her kids.

Why?  Because SuperMom is trying to do so many things, accomplish so much, fit so many things into her schedule, that she often misses the most important things.  The things—or rather the people, the husband and kids—right in front of her.

In addition, SuperMom tends to do way too much for her kids—to give them too much, to protect them too much, to hover too much.  At the same time she tends to expect too much from her kids just as she does from herself.  After all, a SuperMom must have SuperKids, right?  Talk about pressure!

Furthermore, even if SuperMom were the real thing, she wouldn’t be much good at preparing her kids for real life.  The real life where we can’t do it all, be it all, have it all.  The real life most of us live.

No, your kids do not need SuperMom.  They need RealMom.  They need a real, authentic mom who acknowledges her human-ness, her limitations, even her mess-ups.  She is willing to apologize when needed, to live within healthy boundaries, and to learn along with her children.  RealMom laughs a lot more than SuperMom.

Most importantly, she is willing to acknowledge that she doesn’t “have it all.”  But she knows where to go to get what she needs.  No, she doesn’t have all wisdom, all strength, all patience, all knowledge.  But she knows the One who does have all these things.  The One Who promises to be strength in our weakness, wisdom in our confusion, and patience when ours has long ago run out.

Recently, I came across a verse that jumped out at me in a new way as a great mom-verse.  It’s 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (italics mine)

It’s a totally different perspective on “having it all,” isn’t it?  God doesn’t expect us to be SuperMom.  He already knows we’re not.  And He loves us anyway.  Not only does He love us; but He provides for us “all we need”—all grace at all times for all things.  That’s a promise I can live on.

And what’s more, so can my kids.  They learned long ago that they didn’t have SuperMom.  It wasn’t just the magnet on the refrigerator: “So I’m not SuperMom. Adjust.”   They knew it in everyday life.  But I like to think it was good preparation for their life as not SuperParents.  Now, I must say how grateful I am that my kids are such good parents.  But I hope they don’t expect themselves to be SuperParents.

Being real parents—real moms and real dads—turns out to be so much more fun.  You know you will make mistakes, but you also know that God—and kids—are very forgiving.  You know you don’t “have it all.”  But you know where to go to get all you need.  Very freeing, actually.  Much more fun.  Better for your kids.  And you laugh a whole lot more, don’t you think?