A quick internet search of “superfoods” brings up page after page of information about blueberries, chia, acai, broccoli and a gazillion other foods that will, apparently, do any and everything good for your health – from keeping you regular, to curing cancer.
But here’s a little secret: Superfoods don’t exist.
Obviously there are some foods that are better for you than others, but the idea that eating a particular grain or berry will significantly alter your health is a myth. To me it seems only a smallish leap from blind faith in superfoods to the outrageous claims I read in an article recently that injecting bi-carb soda can cure childhood asthma. No. It cannot. And the fundamental fallacy behind this kind of thinking pisses me off to such a degree that I am not even going to provide a link to the article – it was just so much twaddle.
But I digress. That is only a small part of what this post is about.
This week is Mothers’ Day – another commercially hijacked occasion to offer a token expression of our gratitude to the woman who bore us… in the sense of ‘carried’ rather than ‘makes us bored’ (!). The combination of superfoods and Mothers’ Day has led me to consider another concept: Super-mum.
I use this term quite a bit – in an ironic sense – usually to describe myself when I achieve a new level of parent-fail. Like the other morning, as I bundled my daughter into a cab to the airport at 4am and she asked with exquisite politeness, “Mummy, can I please have some shoes?”. Total Super-mum moment. But a day earlier, I actually did it. For real. I pulled it off, and it was brilliant. I got us out of the house, to daycare and work EARLY. I buckled down at work and got a ridiculous amount of stuff done. I earned a compliment from my boss, who doesn’t give compliments. I ran errands during my lunch-break and still had time for coffee with a friend. I left work 20mins late, but was only 5mins late to collect my daughter. I kept my cool on the way home, even when we missed our bus because we had to stop in at a pub for a toilet emergency. I didn’t nag or fuss. I was patient and cheerful. I averted about 7 tantrums in half an hour without giving in to frustration. When we got home, I handed over to my husband and popped to the shop to get a few essential items, and I got back before dinner was cold. I was amazing.
For one day.
And here’s my point – most mothers I know do it every day. To be honest, even though I lose my temper more than I would like, I actually manage to pull off days like that fairly often. But I’m not super. I’m just doing what needs to be done.
The fact is that most people today live a lifestyle that is demanding in a very bizarre way – we are ‘busy’; we rush around like ants, trying to ‘get things done’ – usually things that are indoors, computer-based, not quite ‘real’. When I stop to think about it, it strikes me as quite odd – and makes me realise that being busy is a choice. I chose to be busy the other day, and it paid off. I was focused and productive. My daughter was one of the first to arrive at her creche, and the last to leave – but that’s ok. It doesn’t happen often and she’s no worse for it. Choosing busy isn’t always the right way to go – and I often avoid it. But it concerns me that a lot of mums, a lot of parents, a lot of people in general, don’t stop to think and make the choice – they just barrel on with a ‘have to’ attitude. It’s a difficult habit to break, especially when we are surrounded with the expectation that we want and need to have it all – a partner, a family, a career, a home of our own. In order to succeed in a mainstream sense, we are expected to be super.
But super doesn’t exist. Not when it comes to heroes, not when it comes to food, not when it comes to mums.
I love blueberries, broccoli and linseed.
I also love chocolate and red wine.
I love my mum.
And I love my daughter, more than I thought it was possible to love anyone or anything.
I also get frustrated and annoyed by her, and I know the feeling is mutual.
The thing is, life is about balance. It’s not about super achievements and ultimate failures. It’s not about striving for perfection and self-hating when we inevitable fall short. Rather, it is about enjoying the incredibly finite time we have. It’s about pleasure without guilt and responsibility without resentment. Appreciating the little things, and taking the big ones with a sense of humour.
So next time a headline screams at you about a superfood or a supermum, just remember – super is a state of mind. And don’t forget to call your mum for Mothers’ Day. Why not call her next week too, just for the hell of it. Or better yet, send her a punnet of blueberries soaked in aloe vera and sprinkled with bi-carb soda.
That’d be super