Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Hanging up my Superwoman cape

She's a successful professional working her way up the corporate ladder, cooks like Nigella, runs a small cupcake business on the side, is on the Parents Teachers Association committee of her children's school and is teaching her one year old baby sign language. This may sound like a comic book heroine but I'm guessing we can all recognise one or more of the modern day Superwoman’s traits and for some of us she may reflect the Over-Achiever we've become. My question though is how healthy is it to want to achieve so much?

There's a Boot advert  released in December depicting two women who are running errands whilst clearly suffering from very bad colds. They bump into each other and recount all the things they have to do which includes completing a presentation for a meeting, packing for a holiday, picking kids up from school and taking them swimming, nursing a husband who is sick in bed and all the while confirming through blocked up noses that they are fine...yes fine. I used to like this advert, in fact it used to make me laugh but not anymore. Now I want to weep when I see it and short of that, I find myself shouting at the TV "Don't encourage them!" Them ofcourse being women who seem to think that it's a badge of honour doing everything and not acknowledging that they sometimes need help or simply to take time out for themselves.

In addition to all that she does, Superwoman’s mission would be incomplete without some serious gloating or one-up man ship. It’s simply not enough to be a size 0 two months after giving birth as well as of course already giving your partner a run for his money in the bedroom and completing a marathon in record time, she also has to tell other women about it ….especially the 'failures'…you know the ones who are having trouble shifting the flab three years after giving birth and are looking like a hot mess on the personal grooming front. What better way to drive them to suicide than to reveal your six pack abs whilst whipping up a three course meal and extolling the virtues of home schooling. Recently Mrs Bloom…. (Orlando’s wife) decided to post a flawless picture of herself breastfeeding her newborn baby accompanied by comments that she gave birth to the almost 10lb baby without any pain relief. thanks for that Miranda; that just made the day of that new mum suffering from post natal depression having spent 12 hours in labour with an epidural. And then there’s Gisele Bundchen….yes the supermodel who told women last year that they should all be forced to breastfeed for at least six months because ofcourse she did just that no doubt whilst travelling between Milan and Rio on photo shoots. Another wonderful moment for womankind….just what we needed especially when thousands of women are having a hard time not producing enough milk for their newborns and feeling inadequate as a result.

The truth is being an over achiever, Super mum, Super wife, Super Manager comes at a heavy price to our health. Our constant running around and giving 110% as the expression goes may not manifest itself immediately but it will invariably lead to stress which does have an impact on our short and long term health. Some serious side effects of stress include hair loss, insomnia, high blood pressure and even stomach ulcers, and I can testify to knowing  a number of women who have suffered from one or more of these. What's more so many of us appear incapable of just relaxing….you know that party trick where you do absolutely nothing! In short, our quest for perfection is making us socially inadequate at best and sick at worst.

I'll admit to having donned my Superwoman cape with pride in the past but think my ‘light bulb moment’ came when I woke up one night wondering and asking my sleeping hubby whether our daughter had eaten lunch before going to a party the day before. That’s when I realised that this business of trying to do everything and do it perfectly was getting out of hand. Not only was my question absurd at 2 a.m., it also revealed that rather than having a restful night’s sleep I was busy worrying about all the things I had not been able to control/do perfectly. I concluded that rather than lose my sanity trying to create an unrealistically perfect world, I had better lower my expectations. So whilst I am not hanging up my chef’s apron completely or giving up blogging or my business or doing a good job at work, I am loosening my control on these things. If work doesn’t get done within the dedicated hours, i.e. 9am-5pm with a full hour’s lunch, then it will simply have to wait until the next day. I’m going to re-acquaint myself with the freezer section of the supermarket when I just don’t have the energy to prepare a nutritious meal from scratch. My kids do not need to have organised activity every weekend, sometimes they can just play with the toys they have or here’s an idea…learn to entertain themselves. If I can only get around to blogging once a month….then so be it. I’m sure the world will survive without my pearls of wisdom for a few weeks. And as far as the business is concerned I will learn to delegate more and then just let it go!!!!!! Because let’s face it while Superwoman goes about saving the world, who on earth is saving her?


JBH said...

Just what i was thinking lately Hibiscus. We're so busy looking out for everyone around us - our husbands, kids, parents, siblings sometimes friends and then work etc.. we never take time out for ourselves. Feeling a little low on the battery life right now a little under the weather but feel like i still have to go! go! go! like an energizer bunny. Need to borrow your leaf and just take a chill pill and stop fretting over anything and everything. actually i have started by no obsessing about blogging DAILY.... don't know if you've noticed. LOL! But that was one thing that was driving me crazy. I felt obliged to scribble something down daily even if it meant my going to bed late. Well, decided i wasn''t going to torture myself and although i've really slacked (i know i'll pick up where i left of one day soon) i don't feel guilty about it. Now time to shift that mentality into other departments in my life...
Thanks for sharing this.

The Hibiscus Notes said...

You are welcome JBH!!!I really think this is a serious debate worth having. I also feel it's across the board regardless of colour or class and if we don't take care of ourselves and learn that it's okay for things to be less than perfect the consequences could be quite dire.

Maja said...

This is brilliant ! I absolutely loved it ! So funny and so well written, and so true.

Anonymous said...

Such food for thought. Could not agree more with your sentiments.