Monday, August 27, 2007

Supermoms

In the eighties they were called "Super moms". In the nineties we dubbed them "Soccer Moms". I believe the current appellation is now "Alpha Moms". I myself have railed at length about these mythical creatures HERE and HERE. There seems to be a new affectation at school pick up time of proclaiming oneself an "Alpha Mom" or even her hands-on, harried counterpart, the "Beta Mom". Note: I am definitely not talking about the wonderful and witty bloggers by the same names.

The truth is that we are all "Supermoms". It is likely that all of us including the Stay At Home Mom or SAHM will work several jobs in her lifetime. If she's under thirty the chances dramatically increase that at least one of those jobs will be in a full time home office setting where her boss will expect 14-24 hour access to her. Thanks to Blackberries, i-phones and of course the Internet, we are all plugged in and put upon.

My mother who (I kid you not) earned her degree in Executive Homemaking can not fathom today's homemaker arranging dinner out rather than preparing an elegant dinner for eight on three hours notice. She says she understands mothers with full time jobs being unable to bake a classroom size box of cupcakes and working clean up duty at school parties, but why are SAHMs bringing store bought goods and leaving? Well, Mum I'll tell ya.

They are struggling under the weight of twenty-first century expectations. You worked like a dog keeping your home, your family and yourself enviably elegant. Today's mother wants to live up to the example you set, but there simply are not enough hours in the day.

Take homework for example. Children now bring home approximately four times the amount of homework their parents did. Not only is there more of it, it is now "interactive". Instead of being able to whip through it in their rooms while Mum is getting dressed for dinner, they are now required to include their parents in the process. That's right. They get poor grades if they tell the teacher their parents were not available to do their homework with them. Oh, and don't even think about chatting it over with the children while cooking dinner. Teachers look for your handwriting and log entries.

How about play time? My mum threw us out of the house when she needed to get something done. We were expected to go outside and stay out from underfoot until dinner time. We roamed our neighborhoods safe and free for hours at a time. Now I do not know a single suburban mother who would let her child wander aimlessly with the threat of child predators lurking behind every corner. Our children no longer have the freedom to ride their skateboards through busy intersections or to build ramps from old pieces of trash gleaned from the construction site down the way. Today's mother will insulate her chicks under helmets and pads and drive them twenty miles away to the nearest Xtreme skate park and lovingly cheer them on.

Well, OK what about during school hours? Why do you need a weekly cleaning service or worse yet, live with dust and dirty laundry? This is the only time most of us have to run errands and perform general maintenance on ourselves. When I was a young newlywed, both my mother and my darling mother in law earnestly told me that I would have to watch my weight now because a man is judged by his wife. Today I can laugh about it, but I still know plenty of girls who strongly believe they have a responsibility to stay in shape.

Hrm. I remember my mother and her contemporaries transitioning gracefully from beauties to fine looking women, but I don't seem to recall a mandate that they remain buff. Seems like every gal I know has some fear of being traded in for the "yummy mummy" (for the record, that is the last time you will ever see that revolting phrase from me). But there is something more. There is also the expectation of physical fitness. It's not just about minding our curves, it's about circuit training, running marathons and going for that strong lean look and feel of success. Think Gina Lollobrigida vs. Jennifer Garner.

So am I still angry with the self-absorbed Alpha Mom archetype? Not so much. Jealous of her mani pedi foil highlighted perfection? Nah. But just between you and me, I'd sure like to have an i-phone and a latte. I'll just enjoy them after my gas guzzling SUV is parked, thank you.