‘Tis the season for putting mums on pedestals and talking at length about how giving and selfless, nurturing and hard-working they are.

Which is all true. The mums we know are brilliant and we don’t want to be curmudgeonly about the Mother’s Day praise and cups of tea in bed. And handmade cards – we love the handmade cards – BUT… there is always a but.

Hidden in much of the praise lurks an expectation that a mum spends most of her time giving to others. Whether it’s to her kids, her partner, her extended family or work – it is a mum’s role to give – and when she seems especially successful given all of the demands on her time, we collectively exclaim ‘How does she do it?!’

The assumption is she must be doing it all, because who else is there?!

One of the reasons dads are rarely asked this question is perhaps because we already know they aren’t doing it all. We assume that any dad flying high in his career must have someone at home keeping all the other plates spinning.

The truth is when you see a mum who seems to have it all, it’s highly likely that – just like the dads – she is not doing it all.  

It is highly likely there is a partner who has stepped back from their work, or a grandparent available for childcare, or a really expensive nursery, or an au pair, or a nanny, or a cook and a cleaner. It’s highly likely there are times when one or more of those spinning plates gets dropped and smashes all over the floor.

And we don’t say this to judge another woman’s mothering because she works out of necessity or choice.  But we would like more transparency. 

Eight years ago, one of our anti-SuperMum heroes, Shonda Rhimes stood on the stage at Dartmouth Sunday and spoke about The Myth of Women Having It All.

She said the admiration and wonder people express at her success while being a mum is misplaced, ‘Whenever you see me succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.’ She called it a ‘trade-off’ and it’s something we wish more people in the public eye would be open about.

More recently joining the anti-SuperMum brigade is Rhianna, the world-famous billionaire business woman and artist, who said, ‘The balance is almost impossible. No matter how you look at it, work is always something that’s going to rob you of time with your child. When you make a decision of what you’re going to say yes to, it has to be worth it.’ Not many of us are in the position of being able to say no to work, but eight years after Shonda Rhimes used the word ‘trade off’, another generation of women is waking up to the fact that the Super-Mum who ‘does it all’ is a myth.

Rhianna and Shonda Rhimes are unusual though. Successful mums in the public eye rarely explain what support they have behind the scenes, or the trade offs that come from pursuing a career while raising a family. Celebrity mums rarely explain who is holding the baby while they’re filming that documentary, or who is on the school run while they’re at that photoshoot, or who was cooking the meals while they wrote their latest bestselling book.

We shouldn’t judge their careful silence too harshly though because we know mums already face the weight of impossible expectations, and a society that loves to judge mums who outsource the domestic load. 

The lack of transparency though makes it tempting to think the only reason why we’re wearing a snot-smeared jumper three days in a row, while they’ve had time to blow dry their hair and secure their latest six-figure deal, is because we’re clearly just a bit rubbish.

What helps is reminding ourselves that social media only ever shows us a snapshot of someone’s reality.

What would help even more is if we normalised asking successful mums and dads how they’re doing it all so they can credit their partner at home who picks up the domestic load, or explain the army of paid help that keeps all the wheels turning. Because while we believe no family should have to disclose their childcare arrangements or domestic help, we also think failing to talk about what’s happening behind the scenes keeps the damaging myth alive that it IS possible to do it all. And it’s a myth that damages mums more than anyone.

So, this Mother’s Day, while we won’t be turning down the cups of tea in bed, or a glass of bubbly with lunch, we will be rejecting the label of SuperMum – just mum will do. 

See our top picks of Mother’s Day Gifts.