Athlete Moms: I'm not Superman. And Here's Why.

Today Sarah checks in with just where she fits in on the Supermom scale. Her outlook is real and honest and I think a lot of the Athlete Moms out there can relate. Or are Sarah and I the only ones who go to bed each night asking ourselves, did I do enough today?  --Bec 

Sarah and her crew.

The other day, I wrote an email to a friend. We’ve been out of touch for a while, and I was updating her on my life. I found tapping the words on my iPhone: “being in mommy mode, working semi-fulltime (depending on the number of projects I take on), and training and racing (my sanity saver), it’s a good, fulfilling mix.”

Later, it struck me: Am I really fulfilled? That word has so much heft. Am I being dishonest telling a friend that I am truly satiated by every element in my life? In a way, yes. There are days when I feel like I am not doing enough: I’m not writing enough. I’m not training enough. And I’m certainly not enlightening and engaging my kids enough. I scroll through my Instagram feed every morning and see people out there doing so much more than me: Running more miles, baking more cookies with their little ones, achieving more with their career. And, often, I get that stomach-churning sense that I’m either settling or lacking ambition because I’m just not there.  

This, I suppose, is the crux of the problem plaguing so many of Athletemoms. We want to do it all—and do it well.  Better than well. Amazing. And make it all look effortless and seamless and oh so fun. We train before the sun rises, we shuttle kids back and forth, we volunteer at school, get on the floor and build Lego castles, cook healthy dinners, get everyone to bed by 7:30—and have an organized and clean house, too. Then we go and race a 70.3 or run a 10K PR on the weekend. There are women out there who fit all of these descriptions, and I tip my hat to you—the true Supermoms. But I am not one of them. My kids watch TV and movies and play endless games of Ninjago on my phone when I have to work. They eat fine, but mealtime is a struggle and chicken nuggets are a staple. They have meltdowns. They stay up too late some nights, but then so do I. Meaning, I rarely wake up before they do, so pre-dawn workouts just don’t happen, leaving me scrambling to fit training in during the afternoons and evenings. My days are a whir of car trips, of big messes, of tears (usually not mine!), of laughter. Of squeezing it all in. I do what I can, and on most days, it’s enough. Just enough. 

I’ve never been an overachiever, despite my best efforts. I consciously (and, sometimes, subconsciously) cap my exertion at a level I can sustain--I am quick to see when I’m struggling and rein it in before I implode. Perhaps this approach has kept me from racing faster or rising quicker in my career, but because I don’t overdo things, burnout has never been an issue. Has this left me with that mindset that I’m somehow insufficient because I’m not constantly stretching myself thin? Of course. 

But then, I take a beat to look at my world: At what I do with my time, at the parameters  I must operate within while keeping my three small children as the ultimate priority. At my level of happiness. And I realize that the fulfillment is there. Yes, I will always aspire to do more—even after I reach that yet-to-be-determined pinnacle of accomplishment. But I need to remind myself that just because I haven’t scaled that illusive tier of success doesn’t mean I’m settling. I may be hanging on the middle rung of a towering ladder, but I’m still climbing. --Sarah Wassner Flynn