I don’t want to be Superwoman.
I used to take it as a compliment when people told me I was “Superwoman”. I took it to mean that I must be doing something right to be able to manage to do everything I was doing. And yes, it felt good to hear that people were impressed by the amount of stuff I was able to accomplish while raising 5 kids.
I’ve grown older. I’ve gotten more tired. I’ve also gained some life experience and have slowly realized that not everything in our lives is of equal importance and there is no way we can do everything we want at the same time.
In case it’s not obvious, Superwoman is fiction. (Also, let’s put aside that the Superwoman character is actually a villain as opposed to a hero. For sake of this post we’ll just assume that when someone calls you Superwoman they mean Superman in a female body.) And even the fictitious Superwoman pays a heavy price. Between having to hide her real identity and not letting the people closest to her know who she really is, to time and time again having to drop everything on a moment’s notice and run off to save the world. Not to mention the burden of having the world’s problems on her shoulders.
It’s tiring putting up a facade. It’s tiring putting everyone else’s needs before your own. It’s tiring feeling that you alone are responsible for so many important things.
In general, women have a problem that is not as common among men: we don’t know how to ask for help. We’re queens of helping others but we have a problem reaching out for help when we need it, at least until things are really bad and we’re completely falling apart. (And more often than not we are then angry that those closest to us didn’t instinctively know to offer help before we asked for it.) Women have more of a problem delegating tasks even within our families, because, once again, that’s asking for help. And even when we ask for help and receive it, we feel we have to return the help in the future.
I don’t want to be Superwoman. I don’t have the superpowers that would make it possible for me to continue adding more and more things into my daily routine and to continue to do all of them at the same level without dropping something else.
I also believe that the Superwoman mentality harms women. People who aren’t managing to do as much as a “Superwoman” feel bad and inadequate when they compare themselves to women who at least on the outside seem to be getting so much done so well. Our daughters also suffer when we try to do too many things all on our own. Kids learn from what we do, not what we say. By putting up the facade of Superwomen we are teaching our daughters to set unrealistic goals for themselves.
I don’t want to be Superwoman. I don’t want to have unrealistic expectations for what I can reasonably expect to accomplish. I want to learn how to prioritize and how to ask for help. The biggest difficulty is that I just don’t know how to let go of the guilt that comes with not living up to the unrealistic expectations I set for myself.
Are you a Superwoman? A recovering Superwoman? Any tips?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Newday in Israel.