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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

T.T. - The Supermom Spectrum

Before I jumped in headfirst into this deep, deep pool of bloggy-ness, an unbelievable story was brought to my attention courtesy of my beloved "Today" show.  At the time, I was actually thinking about starting a blog, or un-blog, or whatever this is, but I was, in no way, ready to commit.  

In the middle of the chaos of a September school morning, my eyes glanced up to the television and the chyron below the people seated on the couch being interviewed included the words "Supermom" and "Blog." Well, since I am obsessed with supermoms and with wondering if they really exist, I had to check that story out.   And after listening to this group of siblings talk about the tragedy that had struck their family, I headed over to my computer to check out the blog of the supermom that was mentioned - the NieNie Dialogues.

Now I know many of you, if not all of you, are like "Oh yeah, Nie Nie, of course. Like you didn't know about her already?"  Well, my non-blogging life is not that long ago so let me remind you that when you're a mom without a blog, there's really not much chance to know about a well-known blogging mom, you know?

So on that fateful September day, I was introduced to a blogging mama who had tons of followers and was about to add tons more - all because she was critically injured and burned in a horrible private plane crash.  I remember the early days of discovering her blog and I was literally in shock as I read the updates as she and her husband fought to survive - all while their four young children were being cared for by Nie's incredible sister, C Jane, another blogging mama extraordinaire.

I remember crying real tears when I thought about what this family was enduring and praying that she would survive so their children would not lose their mother. Half-obsessed with this mind-blowing story of tragic survival, I scoured past posts of Nie's to learn more about who this woman was.   

Who this supermom was. 

From what I read and learned, Nie is the kind of woman I am not. Nie is the kind of mother I am not. She seemed to handle the struggle of mothering four young children with a grace and ease I do not possess.  She had a knack for living her life bursting with creativity always looking for the next homemade art project.  She had a way of seeing life with optimism and she worked at giving that perspective to her kids.  Her energy seemed boundless - her ideas never-ending - her love and patience for her kids infinite.

The fact that we existed at opposite ends of the supermom spectrum was perhaps best exemplified in a post where she wrote about doing a project with her kids where she wrote upbeat messages on slips of paper like "Smile, someone loves you" or "Someone wants you to have a happy day!" and she took her kids to not only hide these messages around a busy shopping area of her town but also they would then hide and watch people find the messages so as to see the happiness they were spreading. 

Are you kidding me?

To put it bluntly, she bugged me.  

But I felt bad, really bad, admitting it because here she was fighting for her life. When I read her posts and saw the pictures, my own insecurities as a mother deepened.  "Who does this shit?" I thought, "I would never EVER think to do these things she does." 

No matter how shitty I felt reading about the kind of mother Nie was, I couldn't stop reading.  I just couldn't.  Something kept drawing me back in.  Somewhere in between the baking, and the cooking, and the photography, and the gorgeous self-portraits she is known for, and the painting, and the sewing, and the crafts, and the art projects, and the faith she exudes, and the way her life felt like one HUGE artistic expression, I became...well, inspired.  

And that is where, to me, the best of blogging exists.  In the unknown, undefined, private space of a moment in time when one soul with a story touches another soul with a story.   

In both reading Nie's past posts and by reading the updates posted by C Jane, I began to realize that Nie was actually not that different than me at all.  Sure, she expressed herself much differently than I do and she did all of those typical "supermom" things much, much better than I do, but in the end she was a mom choosing to fight for her life despite all the odds stacked against her because she couldn't stand the thought of leaving her kids.  

And you know what?  I would do the exact same thing.  I would fight. Nie made me realize that.

And boy did Nie fight hard to stay on the planet.  And she's still fighting.  For those of you who don't know, she started posting again this past Friday.  She has returned from death's door looking very different as a victim suffering burns on over 80% of her body but she is alive.  All because a mother's love is the deepest love there is and she refused to let go.   

She simply had to get back to her kids.  To make them dinner.  To read them a book.  To tuck them into bed.  

Just like I do.  Just like we all do.  

So this Tuesday's Tribute is for Nie.  For helping me realize that being a supermom really IS a state of mind and it's time I start getting MY mind into the right state. Sure, I don't cook, sew, craft, blog, or do anything that well at all, but you know what I do well?  I love my kids well and I'm willing to go to the ends of the earth to make sure they are fed, read to and tucked in.

And in the end, that may be all they need.

Tuesday's Tribute
A Jay and Deb Production.


  1. What a beautiful tribute - to Nie and to motherhood.

    I also saw this story on the Today Show that morning.

  2. Fabulous perspective. You're right about what it all comes down to. Thanks for reminding all of us.

  3. That was wonderful Lee! I've heard Nie's story too.

    How touching! And I love your honesty...I have to admit I feel that way a lot of the time when I hear how much other Moms are doing for their kids.

    So now after reading your post, I don't feel so badly! Thanks! :)

  4. Again, you pull out an amazing story. I haven't checked out Nie's blog, but I plan on it after your incredible description of her.

    And by the way, we all define supermom differently and I happen to think YOU are one incredible SUPERMOM.

  5. This was so beautiful, and so true.

  6. That was great, girl. I'm familiar with their story, but I need to go back and appreciate it again. Thanks for keeping deserving people front and center.


  7. I had no idea. You are the second blog I've read today mentioning her. What a incredibly woman and spirit. Thank you for posting this. And you ARE an incredible mommy, and blogger.

  8. If you constantly compare yourself to others you will never come out a winner. You are you and you love your kids and that is all that matters.

  9. Amazing how much hold our children have over us! Thanks for the reminder that the thing they need most is love!

  10. I have always had the same feelings reading Nie's blog. Half of me was completely cynical that ANYONE could be that perfect, and the other half of me was saying... Julie, you big loser! Why can't you do all those crafts, and take those pictures, and be that pretty, and smile more often...

    But ultimately, I believe, everybody gets exactly who they need. My kids don't need a perfect mom - they need me. (Far, FAR from perfect...)

    Thanks for reminding me of that. Because today was one of those days when I spent too much time berating myself for my failings, instead of just enjoying...

  11. That was a REALLY terrific tribute! I wish I saw that piece on the Today show...I missed it!

  12. oh lee... the beauty of this post is in your honesty. thank you for grabbing my hand and introducing me to a new perspective. i may need to bookmark this and read it again. and again.

    and boy, i hope you're right that love really is enough.

  13. Thank you dearly-
    this was so very beautiful.

  14. What a beautiful tribute! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  15. This was not only a moving tribute to a truly inspiring woman, but a poignant reminder to us ALL...being a "good" (or "super") mother really is about how we perceive ourselves.

    We all bring different talents and strengths to this challenging job of motherhood. I think when we embrace those qualities (instead of focusing on our deficits) we become SUPERmoms!

    Oh, and by the way, YOU, my dear friend are definitely a super, super mom :-)

  16. Look, you are a supermom!

    Thanks for expressing the feelings that a lot of us (ok, me) have had about some "supermoms" and making them sound - not only ok, but human and kinda super too.

    Great tribute...

    LOVE you!

  17. wow. I'm on my way over to visit her.

    (Damn, why do people always have to make me look bad? Good thing Bitchy, Sassy and The Golden Boy don't read blogs...)

  18. Wow, I was really hoping Nie would turn out to be a big liar who wasn't really burned and pinched her kids arms to make them be quiet in the grocery store when other people weren't looking.

    Then you made me feel bad for hoping it. Sigh.

  19. What in the heck, I've never heard of this Nie lady. I'm off to check her out. And I know, when all these super people are always coming up with super Einstein projects with their kids, I'm like, Dude, who does that? I guess we can not do that stuff together.

  20. THIS is awesome!! You wrote everything that I felt, and feel, about Nie. I got goosebumps when her sister announced that Nie would be back to write.

    I had only been blogging for a couple of weeks when that story ran on Today. Her family amazes and inspires me.

    Great post. Hailing Obama's deoderant kind of pales in comparison ;-)

  21. P.S. I just read through all the other comments - how cool that she came by and read this!!

  22. I have chills. This was so beautifully written and SO SPOT ON. This is exactly how I felt when I started reading Nie. I felt bad about me at first, and kind of ticked off that she was setting the bar too high or something. But you're exactly right, we're all the same in the end. Fighting for our kids, in all different ways. And allowing ourselves to do it our way is SO freeing, we maybe even become more like Nie in accepting ourselves.

    I LOVED this post!


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