There’s no such thing.
If only I could remember that on a day-in, day-out basis.
Did you ever notice that Mrs. Brady had Alice? That Mary Poppins is a nanny (and the children have a mom who does … I’m not sure what)? Why is it that we take on staying-at-home with our kids like there’s a corporate measure of success for it and we have to beat everyone else? Why does it seem so embarrassing, so indefensible, to need help sometimes? Where does this onus to do it like we’re going to get a bonus from society at the end of each fiscal year come from? Who’s judging you? Who are you allowing to influence how you feel about yourself as a mom?
I am coming to realize the deeper into parenthood I get (and I’m really only ankle-deep) that there’s no way to do it all. You have to pick and choose what’s important to your family and stick to those priorities. Sure, there might be some obvious “no, don’t do thats,” but generally speaking, I would argue that there’s no wrong way to be a mom. Some moms are super organized. Some keep a messy home. Some work very hard to make sure their kids are mentally stimulated, others care more about getting outside and getting dirty. Some want to have something on the schedule every day to keep things interesting. Others are happy to be in their homes for days on end. Some are afraid of germs, others invite them in. (“Sure, Johnny, suck your dirt-covered thumb that your sick friend Caroline just sneezed on.”) Some think TV and sugar are evil, and others are okay if their kids get doses here and there (or all the time, which I think most doctors would say is a “no, don’t do that.”)
The point is I am always discovering what kind of mother I am. I evolve and learn from other moms, and some of my friends have been such great influences on helping me let things go, which I need to do. But when I get into the comparison game, I have to realize I’m not in an office building anymore. In the workplace, you can measure yourself against others by completing projects, going the extra mile, and being recognized for those accomplishments. Parenthood is not like that; it is unending and constantly changing. You can’t check it off your “to-do” list. So forget about finding a way to do it all. You cannot possibly do everything your doctor, husband, family and friends tell you that you should fit into your day. When I cut myself slack for not being perfect, that’s when I think I am at my best.
If you stick to what you know to be true and use trial and error, my guess is you’ll find that your kids will think you’re superwoman. And really, isn’t that all that matters?