Reflections on Identity

If You’re Not SuperMom, Do You Deserve to Be Celebrated on Mother’s Day?

Laura Friedman Williams
6 min readMay 11, 2022


How becoming human in my kids eyes altered the way they view me as a mom

Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, possibly my least favorite “holiday” of the year. In concept, it’s lovely to take a day to reflect on what the important mothers in our lives mean to us, but in practice it is a day that seems hellbent on failing to provide what we moms really want: quiet time, genuine gratitude, a responsibility-free end zone.

I say this as a mom with three pretty grateful kids. At eleven, nineteen, and twenty-two, my kids have a newfound ability to sometimes — emphasis on the some — to see me not just as their mom but as a fellow human being. I’ve only recently recognized, at the ripe age of fifty-one, that my own mom is not a superwoman but right here down on earth with me, so I don’t take my kids’ perception of me for granted.

How did I achieve this? By failing spectacularly.

When my marriage imploded four years ago, it was my husband’s fault, so I was able to retain some degree of superhero status in our kids’ eyes. Of course, it turned out not to be as simple as that, but the revelation of his affair made it seem for a while that he was solely to blame. I took on the role of soother and therapist while they raged against their dad. I was raging too, but I tried to contain it to help them heal. I did such a good job that sometimes I had to remind them that this was not something that happened to them so much as us, or to be more specific, to me. I was willing to share the grief, but not to cede it to them entirely.

Then came a shift in the winds blowing our house down. My eldest daughter took off her rose-colored glasses one day and stated bluntly: you gave us the perfect family and then you took it away.

Herein lay the heart of the issue. While I did not put this train into motion, I could not stop it. If I had been superhuman, I would have stood in the tracks and sent laser beams to stop it from running over my family. Not being able to do this proved a cold, bitter truth to my children: I did not have the power to stop bad things from happening; even worse, when bad things did happen, I did not have the power to fix…



Laura Friedman Williams

Author of AVAILABLE: A Very Honest Account of Life After Divorce (Boro/HarperUK June ‘21; Harper360 May ‘21). Mom of three, diehard New Yorker.