Monday, April 12, 2010

Will You Still Call Me Super(wo)man?

For a long time, I’ve done my darndest to be Superwoman. In addition to writing and trying to publish, I’m also a mother of 2 with a part-time resume writing business, a wife, a daughter, a friend and sister, and active member of my local writing chapter. I’m also a perfectionist in some areas, while I let others slide (like housekeeping and I’ll admit to letting my children watch too much television). I’ve tried to do it all, often suffering from burnout and stress.

Unfortunately, I suffer from a medical condition that is heavily influenced by the amount of stress in my life. Until I started researching my condition I didn’t realize how important the concept of “stress relief” was to me. This is not good, because I have a very difficult time getting outside of the stress in my life and doing anything about it. And while others seem to take the bumps and bruises of life in stride, I tend to take it all to heart and overreact to each and every one (I admit it, Drama Queen gets her nature honestly!). This may not be readily evident to those who aren’t close to me, because I react internally rather than causing a scene, but the women in my life are used to talking me off the ledge on a regular basis (I’m ashamed to admit).

I don’t know if the fact that I’m finally looking at my physical issues with some degree of realism, or if my slide into the last half of my 30th decade is influencing my thinking, but I’m approaching acceptance over the fact that I can’t do it all. I’m not a super mom (even though Little Man likes to pretend he’s Batman). I’m not physically or emotionally capable of doing it all. Because when I attempt to do so, the important things fall through the cracks, pushed aside by everything else with a deadline.

What brought all this self-reflection on, you ask. Well, quite a few things, actually. I won’t bore you with the details. But interacting with the women in my life has taught me that I’m not the only one in this situation. So many of us try to be everything to everyone, because that’s just what women do. We feel guilt when we ask someone to help us or try to delegate a task to someone else. For instance, even though I know that teaching my children to take care of themselves is good for them in the long run, a small part of me insists I should baby them for just a little longer (it isn’t winning, but the little voice is still there). Even though I know there are 4 people who dirty up this house and we should all work to keep it clean, it doesn’t occur to me to ask for help. Sad, but true. Clients call insisting they need something done Right Now, and I find myself cramming more into a day than I can reasonably handle, simply because I feel like I SHOULD.

So today, I simply wanted to share with you my own struggles. Being a writer is a part of who I am, not just some hobby I ‘do’. Oftentimes I feel that the ‘writer’ part of me is submerged beneath the demands of my life and my own demands upon myself. Writers are people too. :) In my books, I often portray heroines who “come into their own”, who find their place in the world and learn the true strength that lies within them. Many days, I don’t feel nearly as strong. I’m not Superwoman. I’m just me.

Do you struggle with “Superwoman Syndrome”? How do you combat it?



Problem Child said...

Need a cape? Tights? ~g~

There are only so many hours in a day, and only so much you can do. But we - your friends - are probably partly to blame for any Superwoman tendencies. It's easy to say, "Oh, Angel is so good at stuff like that, I'll ask her." So remember that it's okay to tell us NO.

However, should you figure out how to either do it all or how to not feel guilty about not doing it all, please share the secret. My cape is a little tattered as well...

Playground Monitor said...

Since I'm older than y'all, let me clue you in on something. Supermom does not exist. She is a figment of some deluded journalist's imagination, much like Yeti or Bigfoot. She makes for good copy and big sales of Xanax. You cannot have it all because there just aren't enough hours in the day to do so.

So stop feeling guilty and do what you can. I've met your children and I think they're pretty neat kids. I think you'd only screw them up by trying to be something you aren't and thereby being a bad role model.

I had the same worries when my boys were young, and look how they turned out. One is a licensed architect with a beautiful family of his own and the other just finished his Master's degree and is admired by the runners he coaches.

I'm just so glad I didn't sell them to the gypsies when they were little and misbehaved. ::grin::

Instigator said...

I second that sentiment. There's only so much one person can do. You do what you can and forget about the rest...or at least attempt to forget about the rest. Yes, the guilt is there sometimes but there's nothing you can do about the guilt either. Feeling guilty about something you can't change never accomplished anything. I'm a woman of action. If there's a problem I'm going to fix it. If it's beyond my ability to fix then I try (try!) to forget about it.

The people in your life are loved and know they are loved. when you get right down to it that's the one and only important thing.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hugs, Angel. As you've said in your commentary, all women feel some degree of this. We want to think we can do it all, we don't ask for help, and we feel guilty because things slide by the wayside. Been there, done that, still doing it.

It's a daily process to work through these feelings. Rest assured you are completely normal, and a wonderful mom to boot. :) Your kids are loved and fed and clean. Trust me, they know this. Even if they don't consciously recognize it now, they will when they are older. And they will appreciate all you did for them.

LeaAnnS said...

Don't feel guilty about not babying the "children" in your house (of which there are three, not two! :) ). I think it was Dobson who said our responsibilities as parents are to prepare a child from the time they are born to eventually leave us. It takes stages (for them and us), but they need it, so you be a good mom and give it (even to the big "kid" who doesn't want it!).

Problem Child said...

And remember -- Counselor Shelley says that screwing up your kids is harder than you think it is. You really have to work hard to turn them into serial killers. :-)

So check "Good Mom" off your to-do list...

PM's Mother said...

I must have done something two daughters are a blessing. I hate(d) housework, so when I went back into the workplace I figured out what absolutely had to be done and what could be done less often. Just because my Mother washed her windows and curtains routinely did not mean that I had to do it.
I cannot remember who said it, but I remember the quote "children need healthy neglect."

Sherry Werth said...

Sounds like we are all in this "Supermom" boat together. It has taken me awhile, but saying no is getting a little easier. Yes, sometimes the guilt is still there but it too shall pass. No one has starved to death because they ate leftovers or soup and sandwiches and the health dept. hasn't condemned the house because I didn't scrub the tub or dust this week.
I met your family and they look happy and healthy. Stress can play havoc with your health. Take care of yourself too!!

Smarty Pants said...

Despite how much the kids might complain, nothing you've done would earn you a visit from child protective services.

I'm personally working on how to balance my plate. I pile high and usually do ok. When I live alone, I can keep up, but DB and the animals are a whole 'nuther story, so housekeeping is usually the first thing to fall off. I'm keeping up with gardening only because the HOA makes me. Cakes may have to fall to the wayside before too long. I don't even have kids, but the work is spilling over. First you get calls on your cell phone while you're away. Then you start carrying papers home to mark up while you're on the couch. Then you bring home your laptop. Next thing you know, you're coming in on the weekends and the precious writing time slowly whiddles away.

Cut yourself some slack and do what you can. That's all any of us can do.

Kathy said...

Hugs! These times of doubt are hard to get through but you will.

We are only here in the now, Angel. If you are giving your love freely, the now will be a fond memory your family will never forget. Live for today. Tomorrow will come with its own set of problems. I'll repeat what a wise woman once told me. "Enjoy your family. The fact that you care enough to wonder if you are a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, proves that you are what you want to be."

As to housework, work and the rest, you are only one person. Even Superwoman ran out of time. ;)

Angel said...

See, I told you the work keeps piling up, as evidenced by my inability to keep up with the blog today. Some special circumstances intruded, but clients wouldn't be put on hold. Some days I wish I had the courage to say, "Failure to plan on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine" (like I do to my family), but alas I find myself doing as they ask. Sigh.

Sounds like there are plenty of capes and tights to go around today. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone. Finding that balance is so hard. Seems like my biggest New Years resolution for the past few years has involved trying to find balance in my life.... you can see how that's working for me. :)

I appreciate all the sage advice from women who have been there and those still in the trenches with me. We "Superwomen" have to stick together!!


Liza said...

I'm single without children, so I only have as much stress as I put on myself. That being said, I have a really hard time telling my friends no when they want me to do something with them and I'm really low on money(still paying off surgery from January). I know I should be able to tell them no and they should understand, but I always feel guilty for not getting together with them, when everyone else can. I'm getting much better about telling them what I can afford to do and then saying no if it is outside my budget(darn you Dave Ramsey).

Virginia said...

I think all woman struggle with this! My hubby does his eight hour days Mon through Friday and that's about all he does, everything else is left up to me, even the lawn, if I don't mow it, then it doesn't get done along with everything else in the house! I just do the best I can and let the rest go!

Angel said...

Virginia, I'm in the same boat honey! I finally hired someone to mow the lawn (the only thing I can afford to hire out).

And wouldn't you know it, I had a kid come home sick from school yesterday, so time had to stand still while I dealt with high fever, aching Little Man. Truly pitiful.


Kate DuBois said...

Angel, you made me laugh when you said how you wish you could say "failure to plan on your part..." So true! And I've been on both ends, which causes me stress.

I think you'd really like this blog by Denice Kronau, a CEO who quit her high-profile job because of exhaustion and found her way back to balance. Most women can't quit their jobs, but they can begin to think differently about work, which she helps women do. Here's the link to an excerpt of her upcoming book.