In my eyes, a “Mother of the Year®” is a courageous and compassionate woman who believes that something changed inside her once she became responsible for another life; something powerful that gives her the ability to fight off a bear, not only to protect her cubs, but any cub that needs protection.
Recently I came across an article in a local paper about the perils of social media as we navigate through the murky waters of motherhood. The author, Steph Peyatt, wrote about how a friend had commented that she was a “Super Mom” on one of her posts, leaving her deep in thought about how she portrays her mom life online. Though meant as a compliment, being called a “Super Mom” compelled Steph to come clean about the reality that exists off-camera.
“Super Mom” is one of those designations that can be used as a supreme compliment or harshly tongue-in-cheek, very similar to our own “Mother of the Year®.” In fact, I would bet that we use “Mother of the Year®” sarcastically more often than not, criticizing our own parenting fails and mishaps (which could quite possibly have our foremothers rolling in their graves).
But on those rare occasions when someone calls us a “Super Mom” or nominates us as a “Mother of the Year®” and genuinely means it, why is it so hard to accept the compliment?
So here’s the real deal from an actual “Mother of the Year®:”
When I first learned that I had been nominated I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks. The idea that I was any better at parenting than anyone else was downright hysterical, especially because I struggle daily with the doubt that comes hand-in-hand with being a woman. It took some serious persuasion (and guilt… I had to be guilted in to it) for me to submit my portfolio and put it out there into the universe that I thought I was worthy of such recognition.
No one was more surprised than me that I was actually named “Mother of the Year®” (maybe my husband, but that’s another story). Suddenly there was all sorts of pressure to start acting like a “Mother of the Year®,” and I even heard another mom making snarky comments when she didn’t know I was there. Six words repeated themselves over and over in my head… “fake it till you make it,” and for a few weeks I felt like a complete fraud. But I soon learned that “Mother of the Year®” does not need to be synonymous with “Perfect Mom,” because by now we all know that there is no such thing.
In my eyes, a “Mother of the Year®” is a courageous and compassionate woman who believes that something changed inside her once she became responsible for another life; something powerful that gives her the ability to fight off a bear, not only to protect her cubs, but any cub that needs protection. A “Mother of the Year®” is willing to give her time and talents to lift other moms up when they’re feeling down, acknowledging that motherhood is hard and we’re all in the trenches together. A “Mother of the Year®” sees hurt and division in the world and is so compelled to do something about it that she’s willing to sacrifice her own peace to make a difference. A “Mother of the Year®” believes wholeheartedly in the Golden Rule, and wants only for her children to know how important it is to treat others the way they would want to be treated.
I applaud Steph Peyatt for the real talk about motherhood and for being honest about the difference between our Instagram feed vs. reality. But I don’t think we should shy away from being called a “Super Mom” or “Mother of the Year®.” We are all worthy of those titles, day in and day out, and should be able to take those compliments without batting a sleep-deprived eyelash.
Rebecca Latham is the CEO of American Mothers, Inc. and served as the 2017 New Mexico and National Mother of the Year®. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband and two children and enjoys audio books, stretchy pants and time spent in the mountains.