Monday, July 14, 2008

Do I have to say goodbye to Superwoman?

A friend of mine, Ellen Antill, wrote a recent life-coaching blog post titled, "Goodbye, Superwoman." In it, she describes having battled her "Superwoman complex" and offers helpful techniques to "decrease her influence" in our lives (see, blog dated 6/10/08, Goodbye Superwoman).

But do I want to decrease her influence? I so WANT to be Superwoman, some days. She seems so put together, in control. She has that fantastic, round, jet-black hairdo, the gold tiara, the patriotic colors, and that hip-ful, rounded 80's form instead of the anorexic 90's look. Seriously, though, letting go of even wanting to be Superwoman is tough. The constant balancing act of being fully present in what I choose to do, and evaluating whether the things I choose have become too demanding for me and my family - I never find that perfect mix. I'm always teetering on one side or another. Make that precariously teetering, some days. I realize that's the nature of balancing, but shouldn't my form improve, my balance tighten, the legs quit that irritating sewing machine quiver?

Take last week. I had jury duty and work that took me away 6am to noon for three days; and I think my poor husband positively bristled when I reminded him I would be gone Saturday morning for my 3 hour marathon training run, followed by an all day jaunt to Payson for a close friend's birthday. And those were just the things I had scheduled without my kids. Was that being Superwoman, or was it just an uncommonly busy week? When does being a 21st century Renaissance woman, high-capacity in several areas of life, turn into being Superwoman, trying to save the world all by her lonesome? Is it when I try to squeeze in a training appointment, Bible study, and visit my Grandma in her care home into that same busy week? Is it when my satisfaction with said week yields personal fatigue, cranky husband, and clinging children in the following week? Do emotions (mine, his, or the kids) determine when I have crossed the line?

I invite your thoughts and comments on the subject.


Ellen said...

Good questions, Laura. I envision Superwoman as being someone whose life is somewhat on autopilot; she unconsciously goes with the prescribed flow manifest in some sectors of our culture for women to be ultra-achievers, performers and caretakers . . . and may never learn to identify her own needs and calling.

I believe that knowing/accepting ourselves and who we've been created to be can protect us from existing as Superwomen. This means understanding the number of commitments we can and cannot handle well, as well as choosing to say "no" when we know the costs of overdoing may be too high.

I've never found the perfect mix either, of balancing all my commitments, because life is constantly evolving. That's a GOOD thing, right? Intentionally renegotiating responsibilities and choices keeps us engaged and alive (:

Laura said...

I appreciate how you verbalized that balance.

For me, I think knowing the difference between being Superwoman on autopilot and being a high-capacity woman in the zone of where God calls me to be, often comes down to time. Specifically, over what period of time am I subsisting while discouraged, discontent, out of sync, or fatigued; or how long am I coping with a full schedule while feeling content, fulfilled, loved, and energized? We all have bad days and weeks. When it gets into months or years, I think we need to start asking, am I really living out the life God designed for me, or trying to be someone I am not?

On that note, I like your phrasing, "renegotiating responsibilities." I am currently wishing to renegotiate the responsiblity of washing dishes, or at least washing the wet or dirty underwear for my almost-potty-trained daughter... Volunteers, anyone?? :-) I guess some responsibilities are just par for the season!

Smiller said...

This is my insightful comment at 10:50 at know that is a picture of Wonder Woman, right? Superwoman has a cape. Wonder woman has cool bracelets. Oh, which accessory to choose?

Victor said...

Hey...this is your cranky husband.

Get in the kitchen and cook me my dinner!

Just kidding.

To all you ladies who were insulted by my post,


Laura said...

Blast. Wrong superchick! I don't even know who I am trying to be! Or not be!! Aauuggghhh!!

Laura said...

btw - lol at cranky husband who made the dinner tonight!!

Victor said...

Laura said...

Oh, no, now we've gone from Superwoman to "The Man Song"! You know you can laugh at that harder, sweetie, because it's not even close to your reality.