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.
Photo credit: Anne Marthe Widvey / Flickr.
It’s funny how the loss of someone you don’t personally know can hit you so hard. Since Shimon Peres passed away I’ve been spontaneously bursting into tears. He was the grandfather of the Israeli nation and the last of its founding fathers. He was an inspiration and his loss leaves a huge void. I wrote on my blog in response:
“I got close. I was due to meet him at the Israeli Presidential Conference three years ago on his 90th birthday. Sadly the plans for him meeting the bloggers covering the conference changed and I only got to see him from afar when he was part of a panel with Sharon Stone.
Now Peres is gone and the chance to meet a man I admired will never be. I’m sitting here writing this as I watch his funeral ceremony on television and try to stop the tears from flowing.
I’m saddened because Israel and the Jewish people have lost a true visionary, a man who loved his country and his people so deeply that no job in its service was beneath him. He was quoted as saying “When you do something from love it doesn’t matter what the job is.” This is a man who served Israel is so many different capacities, as minister of defense, minister of foreign affairs, minister of finance, minister of transportation, prime minister and president…”
Please head over to New Day New Lesson to read my full post, “Israel’s tomorrow is now ours to worry about — RIP Shimon Peres.”
Writing has always been a way for me to work through my feelings, so as I was watching the funeral I wrote this tribute to a great man who left us before his time. He still had so much more to give the world. Now it’s up to us.
This is an original post to World Moms Network by World Mom, Susie Newday in Israel.
Photo credit to Susie Newday.
It’s insidious. It happens without us even noticing. It’s kind of like how your kids sprout and grow in front of your very eyes yet until someone who hasn’t seen them in a while remarks about how big they’ve gotten you don’t even realize it. It’s easy to miss the change when you watch it happen millimeter by millimeter.
Our priorities change.
I remember myself twenty years ago and I sometimes wonder what the heck I was thinking. Looking back from the vantage point of experience, I can’t even begin to comprehend how much energy I wasted on things that now seem so unimportant to me. For some reason, back then cleaning my house was one of my top priorities. The hours I spent cleaning and terrorizing my family if they made a mess or dragged in any dirt or sand was, in hindsight, quite ridiculous. Instead of spending time with people who are important to me and doing things to enrich my life, I opted to clean even though I couldn’t stand cleaning. (It does seem though that there are days when my husband now secretly wishes I would get bitten by the cleaning bug again.)
Our beliefs change.
As we get older and wiser, we begin to realize that life isn’t black and white anymore. We slowly learn to embrace the uncertainty that is the multicolored rainbow of life. We learn that in order for there to be rules, there needs to be exceptions to the rules. We learn that rules are meant to be bent because after all, life isn’t carved in stone. It’s melded by love and empathy and feelings.
As the years pass our beliefs about right and wrong shift. Our beliefs about what our red lines are changes. Sometimes even our religious beliefs change.
Our reactions change.
I know that now, different things “push my buttons” than they used to. I also know that on good days, even my reaction to things that usually “push my buttons” is wiser and less impulsive than the way my twenty year old self would have reacted. Every good and bad experience we have teaches us new skills. Experience is a persuasive teacher.
Our parenting changes.
OMG how much our parenting changes as the years fly by. I’m a completely different mother now at 46 than I was as a new mother at 20. Back then I had all the answers because I lived in the land of black and white. Today, with 5 kids and 2 daughters-in-law, I’m still making it up as I go because every day brings new challenges and I’m very aware of the fact that I still don’t have all the answers.
My kids have gone through a myriad of experiences, some of which I have never experienced myself. They have volunteered with disabled kids, play sports I never played, play musical instruments that their tone deaf mother only wishes she could. Two of my children have served in the armed forces; they’ve seen places I’ve never been. For the most part, each of my kids has grown up with a different mother, because with every day that passes and with each additional kid I gave birth to, my parenting changed. Sometimes things slipped because of exhaustion, sometimes because I realized that I needed to let go of routines that weren’t working for me or weren’t worth the energy.
Change is hard but change is good. It means we’re learning, evolving and allowing ourselves the possibility to fail, to be wrong, to not know.
Sometimes we’re afraid of change. We want what we know because we forget that there’s something even better waiting for us around the corner. We don’t need to fear change, we need to learn how to accept our vulnerability and reach out to others for support and guidance.
How am I different now from the 20 year old I used to be? Well aside from the wrinkles, grey hairs and some extra pounds, on most days I know how to ask for help or advice and guidance. I’m also learning that it’s okay to say I don’t know, I’m sorry, no I don’t want to. I believe that it’s okay to take a risk and follow my heart in whatever direction it’s leading me. I’m better off because of changes that have come into my life.
Yes, at times change still scares me but I know that so far I’ve weathered any change that has come my way and I’m still alive and kicking.
Life by definition is change. It’s also what makes me the person and the mother I am.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Mayerfeld, our contributor in Israel.
Photo credit to Susie Mayerfeld.
You might think otherwise, but in truth, no one owes you anything. Not God, not your spouse, not your parents, not your kids, not your friends or your colleagues. Seriously, no one owes you a single thing.
I don’t think any one of us go about our days consciously assuming that we’re owed anything, yet we somehow unknowingly end up behaving in a way that says just that.
We live lives full of expectations. We’ve come to expect certain things, certain behaviors and certain reactions. And because we’ve come to expect those things, we unwittingly end up feeling entitled to them. Then, when we don’t get them, we feel upset and short changed.
How many times have I gotten upset with my kids for not doing their chores? How many times have I snapped at my husband because I felt I didn’t get the reaction I hoped for? How many times have I gotten annoyed at someone?
Yes, I feel that my kids should have responsibility. Yes, I wish my husband could read my mind. (Or maybe not.) Yes, I wish people would be more polite. But they’re not the problem.
The problem is expectations and the false notion that people think we need them. When you have an expectation, you’re putting forth a demand. Is that the way to manage any type of a relationship? To demand something from the other party?
An expectation is one sided. We don’t need to live lives filled with demands.
So what do we need? We need hopes and wishes. We need reciprocity in the form of cooperation and partnership.
In the example of my kids and their chores. My wish is for teamwork. Being part of the family means being part of the team, a team that helps the family function as it should both physically and emotionally. Not because I want them to do it for me personally, but for the good of the whole unit.
In marriage or in any type of a relationship you’re looking for cooperation and partnership as well as mutual understanding. You wish for good and by wishing for good instead of expecting or demanding it, you can find the good and are grateful for what you have.
You have to earn love or respect or kindness. Demanding them will get you nowhere fast. When a relationship is a loving one, not one based on debts, people will be more likely to want to be there for you.
Learning that you’re not owed anything doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat or be treated badly. It means you have a choice and can decide what relationships and actions belong in your life. You don’t demand things from other and you don’t transfer the blame or responsibility on others. You decide what is right for you. You decide to see all the things to be grateful for.
Love can only be unconditional when you earn it but don’t feel you’re owed it.
Can you imagine how many of the world’s problems would vanish if we all believed that we aren’t owed anything and took responsibility for ourselves and our actions.
Do you think you are owed anything?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.
Photo credit to Susie Mayerfeld
It’s funny how in our world of privilege and plenty, most of us have to make a conscious effort to practice daily gratefulness.
Without even realizing it, we tend to concentrate on what’s wrong in our lives, what we want to change, and what we don’t have. It’s kind of ironic seeing that “all we don’t have” is a bottomless pit that could never be filled.
On the other hand, what we do have is plentiful. It’s everywhere, in the little things and the big things. From a good cup of coffee, to running water and sewage, to our health.
Yet, how often do we regularly praise all the good and great things in our lives? Not nearly as much as we complain about the less than perfect things.
Sure, we enjoy moments that make our hearts swell, moments of surprise and appreciation, moments filled with laughter and love. I find, however, that for the most part, it’s only when we’re exposed to tragic or sad events that we take the time and make the effort to recognize just how good our imperfect lives really are.
I was thinking a lot about gratefulness and happiness when it suddenly hit me that it’s all about what we allow to flow into our lives. It’s about what we choose to accept and how we choose to accept and view it.
So what do we choose?
Do we choose expectations, hurt, negativity, control, pain, disappointment and perfectionism? Or do we choose love, understanding, empathy, gratitude, kindness, joy, satisfaction, respect, warmth and affection?
I think that most of us are struggling with the unsettling peaks and valleys of happiness and sadness mixed with bursts of anger, frustration and disappointment. The reason for that is a negative outlook on life. It’s a matter of what we see. My default in any situation is to first see the problems and the difficulties. It’s been a tough journey trying to retrain my brain to concentrate first on all the good things.
After all, how can we expect the good things to flow into our lives when we are unwittingly blocking them by viewing the world through negative glasses? Imagine what the world would look like if we all wore our “positive outlook” glasses every day and managed to not only see the best in others but also the best in ourselves?
Imagine if we could learn to be grateful, understanding and empathetic every minute of the day, not just in word, but in action as well. Imagine if we got rid of the no and opened our minds to yes.
What are you allowing to enter your life?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog.
Photo by Flavio, used under a Flickr Creative Commons License.
I was blindsided.
It was Family Day, or Yom Hamishpacha, as it’s called in Hebrew. The day that somehow ended up replacing Mother’s Day here in Israel. My youngest was so proud of the card she had made for my husband and me. She had colored pictures of balloons, and had written all the words on her own.
I smiled as I read lines of “To my dear family, all the things I want you fulfill,” and, “I love my siblings and I’m happy to be with you.”
The sucker punch came at the end.
“I want to wish for health for all the sick people in the world so that my mom can stay home with me.”
Ouch. A heartfelt painful dagger to the heart. I was caught off guard. She had never said anything to me about not wanting me to work.
I work part-time, only three days a week. I’m a nurse in outpatient oncology. I do important work, fulfilling work. I work because my salary makes a difference in our finances. I work because if I don’t work, it’s that much harder to get back into it when you do want to work.
And yes, there are days when I wish I didn’t have to work. There are also many days when I’m glad I do work. Yet like every working mother, I’m constantly tormented by the demands of both worlds and with the impossibility of finding balance. I think the emotional and mental balance is even harder to find than the physical, task-related balance.
And then, when I think I’ve found that precarious balance, I get hit by innocent words, words pleading for more love and attention than I’ve been giving.
All I can do is accept what is, and try harder. Try harder to be true to my needs and to give those I love what they need.
The question is how.
This is a post original to World Moms Blog. Photo credit to the author.