Christmas rough on Supermoms
By Ann Dingus
"There's no prescription for
being happy at Christmas,"
psychotherapist Margaret Buc-
horn declared. "Women-
people —need to learn to be
Probably the person who
should take those words most
strongly to heart are the Super-
moms of the world — those women, Buchorn explains, who live
vicariously through husbands
and children, basking in the
warmth of reflected heat.
"A woman who has bougnt
into the Supermom role will buy
into these 'models' for behavior
too," she added. "But the catch
is, she's self-deceiving. She
wants to be praised for her
work, but her family takes her
for granted —of course
Buchorn, a soft-spoken mother of three, said that Christmastime is especially rough on the
mother, "because, especially
now, everything should be
right. Its one time everyone's
supposed to love one another, to
have this warm, wonderful feeling about each other, to buy
these marvelous expensive gifts
to make the others happy.
If Supermom is also the
breadwinner, Buchorn continued, she'll feel that additional guilt and burden of wanting
to provide lavish gifts by overspending to achieve these
things. Of course, that alone
nags at her, but then she feels
even guiltier at feeling guilty
over something so capitalistic as
money at this warm family time.
"But the whole season is a
capitalistic idea!" Buchorn
cried. "It's commercialism, and
Supermom buys into that, too.
She doesn't even realize that
you can have a lovely Christmas
without running yourself
ragged and falling into this
Still, too many accede to the
pressure from adults as well as
kids to buy big, expensive
gifts —a sure-fire indication of
how capitalistic Christmas is.
"Children usually demand
whatever it is they've seen endlessly advertised on TV," the
psychotherapist said. "Parents
too easily give in to gifts that
are transitory. They may want
to cultivate educational bents in
their children, but they too
easily give in."
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And that only results in disillusionment for the kids, Buchorn said. "Kids today are so
used to so much materialism
that presents mean hardly anything—a few hours after the
presents are opened Christmas
morning, they're broken, torn
up or ignored. And after all that
time, money and concern from
Mom and Dad!"
The disillusionment exists for
mas dinner, for example, everyone will get up and leave the
table without a word of thanks,
leaving her to do all the
cleaning up. That's the price a
Supermom pays, Buchorn said.
"And then she thinks, 'What
did I do all that for?' She wants
praise and recognition —she
doesn't want to feel that her
investment in time, energy —
and family —has failed."
Margaret Buchorn is planning six-week self-awareness or growth
groups after the first of the year. The groups are not psychotherapy
sessions, she says. Rather, they are discussions on where women are
in their lives and how other women handle situations in their lives.
"We need support —emotional support from other women/' she says.
Anyone interested in participating may call her office at 527-8701.
parents too—and may really hit
Perhaps by concentrating on
her children's fun, a Supermom
can regain some of that lost
childhood. Instead of making all
the Christmas cookies herself,
she can let the kids help, even if
it means slightly imperfect
cookies and a messier kitchen.
She has to let the perfect Supermom image go. If not, after all
her trouble to fix a lavish Christ-
A family doesn't have to live
up to the commercial idea of
Christmas. "In my family we
played games —the participation was fun for all," she said.
"But the family doesn't have to
be together. That only adds to
the tension. The kids should
have time for their friends. And
the parents have a perfect right
to get away from the kids for
awhile. It would probably do
Supermom some good."
Christmas is especially rough
on Supermoms, Buchorn said.
"She derives her sense of
worth and self-esteem by providing for others," Buchorn
pointed out. "So she feels ex-
pecially burdened at Christmastime. There are so many
expectations —unrealistic ex-
pectations-to fulfill. They go on
endlessly, what presents to buy,
what food to make, how your
house should look, how you
should entertain, how you
should look glamorous.
That's Supermom's job." Inevitably, Buchorn said, Supermom
tries to make sure that Christmas is all it's cracked up to be,
tries to live up to the image
her children, husband and society see in her, tries to accede to
other's wishes to feel worthy—
without ever admitting to herself what she's doing. Her
masochistic attitude makes her
want to give everything for her
family, and nothing for herself;
then she wonders why she feels
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