Moms don’t want to be called superheroes—they want help

This viral post says what we're all feeling when we hear, "OMG you're so amazing, how do you do it?"

stop telling moms we're superheroes

I'm sure you've seen it by now, mama—and I'm guessing you had the same reaction I did: Seen. Me RN. Yes. This.

First shared by Twitter user RamblinMama and subsequently shared (and reposted everywhere) on Instagram, this exchange sums up 2020's particular brand of toxic positivity toward mothers in six lines:





Moms: We are drowning. Help.

Everyone: Wow you're superhuman!

Moms: What? No. Can you just hel—

Everyone: I don't know how you do it!

Moms: We're not. Help us.

Everyone: OMG you're amazing tho [heart eyes for days]

I'm glad everybody's so impressed by how mothers are navigating the impossible during this pandemic—the high-stakes juggling acts of crisis-schooling and working from home with young children, the anxiety and stress surrounding back-to-school, the slow-motion collapse of the childcare industry, the vicious double standards pushing record numbers of burned-out working mothers to leave their careers, the heartbreaking struggle to keep our kids' spirits up through all this, the isolation and mom-shaming, the relentless insistence that deep breathing or a glass of wine will solve our problems, the fact that most of our kids haven't seen their beloved grandparents in six or seven months.

I mean… it's nice to hear we're such "superheroes."

How lovely, to have our sacrifices and efforts reflected in weepy commercials.

How thoughtful, to see some acknowledgment that moms are burned out beyond all recognition—like, to a crisp.

How hopeful, to imagine that our leadership might (maybe? possibly?) actually pass some of the funding that's been stalled all summer in Congress for essential services like childcare and school.

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Thanks… I guess?

But by this point in the pandemic, I personally could use a little less "You've got this, mama!" and a little more "Let's fix this, people!"

Because we are not okay. We are not superheroes. We are drowning.

Moms are constantly being told that the secret to successful motherhood is to "make time for self-care." These self-care recommendations typically take the form of something only moderately or temporarily helpful, like taking a walk, texting a friend, having a long bath, doing some yoga, knitting, having a glass of wine or a mug of tea. (Seriously? Tea?)

These days, self-care isn't a mug of tea. Self-care is starting to look less like deep breathing, and more like shouting from the rooftops: "THIS. ISN'T. WORKING."

I get that people are just trying to be nice. But "OMG you're so amazing" is just 2020 for "Sleep when the baby sleeps." It's a useless, well-meaning platitude that doesn't recognize the on-the-ground reality for most of us.

Moms don't need empty congratulations on how well we're handling all this. We need real, systemic support.

Support means funding childcare providers and schools, especially as they implement large-scale, expensive changes so that kids and teachers can be together again safely.

Support means equal pay for equal work. Support means acknowledging the mental workload. Support means partners actually stepping up and doing their share—not just what they think is their share.

Support means flexibility from employers, especially for single working mothers. Support means extending economic benefits to families that need them.

Support means more than a heart-eyes emoji. And what moms need right now goes way beyond self-care, or even a well-meant compliment.

Let's fix this.

<p> Siobhan Adcock is the Experts Editor at Motherly and the author of two novels about motherhood, <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/" target="_blank">The Completionist</a> and <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/the-barter" target="_blank">The Barter</a>. Her writing has also appeared in Romper, Bustle, Ms., McSweeney's, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Review of Books and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. </p>

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