The re-definition of superwoman.

January 17, 2019

 

We each may have a different perspective of who superwoman is. Usually it’s a woman who seems to be juggling many hats with grace. We may have even dubbed someone with the title in amazement as we try to comprehend how they do it. I know I have. I don’t think it’s ever meant to be mean anything negative. In fact it’s a term we often use to compliment someone we admire. As I see the achievement oriented, goal crushing, have it all culture continue to affect so many women I know, I felt the need to write this post. I think a re-defining of the term superwoman is in order…

Over a year ago Gabe and I bit off more than we could chew. We both started working on the IHOD brand full time together and switched to a hybrid school for our kids while simultaneously trying to be present parents. We wanted to do everything well, but as you know, life threw us some hard curveballs, and as I felt like I was barely holding my life together. With the dreams of having a flexible job that would allow us to be more devoted parents, I wondered how I felt like my own life was drowning me? I have come to the realize that I bought into the myth of superwoman. I truly believed I would be able to handle it all. I knew how to make lists, be productive, and see goals come to life. In fact, I placed my value in it. I thought if I put “present and engaged mother” and “strong business” at the top of the list I could achieve both.

As Gabe and I both tried our hardest to do everything on our own, I came to grips with the reality that it wasn’t possible. When you are spending every waking minute fighting to do it all, you can fall apart piece by piece and not even see it until you are face to face with the bottom. I had become so accustomed to surviving on adrenaline that I stopped even recognizing it as an intruder. I had gotten used to little sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety, feeling on edge, and the lack of time for physical exercise and friendships. I would tell myself it was what we needed for the time being until we got through this season of adjustment. However, when you ignore the signs of stress it starts to attack your internal health as well as your emotional and spiritual well being.
 

 

As I attempted to put the brakes on last year, I realized I didn’t even know how. I didn’t know how to rest or fight for my health. Gabe was also experiencing the same (he puts in 100% to all he does as well). We both committed to taking a good hard look at the pace of our life. So much of this stemmed from superwoman syndrome. I really believed we could balance it all. However, contrary to popular belief, I don’t think women are made to do it all. We are made with passionate, caring, hearts. We like to find meaning and purpose in our life and in our work. We find fulfillment when we are living according to this purpose. However, we need to be whole in order to give to our relationships and families the way we desire. The problem is, we starve many parts of ourselves while we glorify the juggling many hats. My definition of superwoman is shaping into something very different from the perspective of being able to manage it all. For me, the definition of superwoman is having the self awareness to know your strengths and weaknesses. Accepting them, and giving attention to both. It is someone doing their best to live according to her priorities. I have such a deep respect for the women who know and understand what is best for herself or her family, and living it out with gratitude no matter what the world around them says.
 

 
Not all of our circumstances in life are things we can change or adjust. It does help to take a good hard look at what is necessary in our life, and what can shift to get to a healthier and happier state of being. It has been a slow unraveling and re-building process, but I wanted to share the starting places and pivot points that have helped us significantly in finding a new normal. Everyone’s circumstances will be different, but identifying the major stress causes, as well as seeking healthy change is starting grounds.

1. Writing out a life projection plan in detail, and reviewing every month. Asking yourself questions such as: What expectations am I placing on myself, my children, my family, my job, etc.? Why do I have those expectations, and are they in line with the reality of our situation?
2. These 5 habits to address stress management and intentionality.
3. Hiring help! Admitting we can’t do it all, and that’s ok. This doesn’t apply for everyone, but in our situation it has taken us from drowning to getting back to a steady pace. We hired some help with kids schooling, babysitting help, and communication and marketing help for the blog. It’s scary to let go of control in any area of your life, and I am working on this!
4. Spiritual direction/therapy – I started seeking council from someone who can help me talk through and understand the roots of many of the pressures I have been placing on myself. I can’t even begin to describe how this has helped me. If therapy isn’t an option, find a trusted friend you admire who may be willing to talk through things with you.
5) Addressing physical and mental health with exercise, cutting back on late nights, setting social media boundaries, scheduling time for relationships, etc. as explained in this post.

There is nothing more motivating to me right now to actively fight superwoman syndrome than my children. I know they are sponges observing everything they see. More than any earthly achievement I want them to know and experience a loving peace filled home. That starts with my well being! I want to continue writing on whole being health this year because I want to support more of you going through similar experiences.I think I will get Gabe to write his experience of all of this from a guy’s perspective too;) We both give equally to everything, which is a huge help when role expectations can otherwise cause a good deal of superwoman syndrome. I know first hand how easy it is to feel insufficient and overwhelmed by your own life. The truth is, we each have a unique purpose in this world! It can look differently than what the culture looks like, the way our parents did things, or how we thing our peers are doing things. We can live our life according to our own unique roll, and find great fulfillment in it.

 

Leave a Comment

  • So good! So spot on! Thank you for this

  • Nicole McKee

    You are amazing! You are certainly superwoman, but in the way you describe! Thank you for this post. I will certainly be sharing with my friends on Facebook. Having gone through the pains of adrenal fatigue and learning how to rest (I’m still learning!), I can totally relate! It really is soooo much more important to focus on your own priorities (and God’s 😉 ) rather than those of the world around you!

    • Thank you so much Nicole. It is crazy how intertwined our health and emotional well being are! I hope you continue to find the right path to whole health!

  • Thanks for being such a brave and vulnerable voice!! This really hits home for me as I’ve been growing in these same areas the past couple years with health problems, a family business and homeschooling. God offers such peace and grace to us when we surrender our desire to control everything and trust in His goodness. This also reminds me of a favorite quote of mine that I like to reflect on when I get caught up in feeling like I’m not good enough because of my inability to do ALL. THE. THINGS. “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
    Peace to you and your family as you continue on this journey.

  • I <3 this!!
    Been working hard on the right perceptions of great women and men.
    What helped me enormously with realizing my extreme tentacles of attention for my family are all the posts abou the tasks we face as mothers. Hope Google translatie can help you with this One, it’s based on a swedish campaign for equal task burden between men and women. https://www.womeninc.nl/Uploaded_files/Zelf/checklist-voor-een-gelijkwaardige-dag-2.703a35.pdf

    • Hi Krista – I couldn’t read the doc, but I think I understand the general idea! I definitely am guilty of placing the expectations on myself to be able to work, take care of the kids, have dinner on the table, keep the house clean, and make sure everyone has laundry clean for the week! Gabe is wonderful about putting his whole heart into this family and reminding me he can cook dinner and fold laundry too! It is a big shift in mindset to accept help and re-define what I think motherhood should look like. I know many women don’t have partners who are working round the clock and have to take everything on themselves. We all have different capacities and strengths, but the first step in a balanced life I think is accepting we can’t do it all and we don’t have to!

  • do not wear jeans in the snow
    they will get wet and then you will be cold

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I am not married and I am not a mom. In fact I am single. But I have been reading your posts and it’s all given me a lot to think about in terms remembering the important things in life. I really appreciate you being honest about the anxiety and stress you’ve experienced around trying to do everything all at once. Your blogs make your way of life look so effortless, and I start to question myself and why things are so difficult for me.. and this was just very refreshing to hear that you are very human and go through similar emotions that I go through and a lot of young women I know. Looking forward to more posts about slowing down and being good to ourselves :).

    • Stephanie – thank you so much for reading and the encouragement! I think it is so easy as women no matter what our phase in life to place very high expectations on our shoulders. Many times the things we take on are rooted in good intentions, but can become burdens. It can be tough to navigate living honestly and simply, but how freeing it is!

  • We are making huge efforts to slow things down, and it’s been refreshing to hear myself think, and take our days one at a time. I think the concept of balance has also been a tripping point for me. I’ve realized that I don’t so much desire to achieve balance, but rather knowing which things need more weight at any given time and keep adjusting.. it helps me not to feel so divided. Thank you—this is really timely for me!

    • Casey – well said! I completely agree. Balance as a distribution of equal parts does not exist! Giving time and energy towards our priorities is balance that actually fuels us in the right ways.

  • I stumbled across you in the IG world, but was about to unfollow. I have been cleaning out things that have been making me feel “less than” or “not good enough.” And I am highly sensitive to comparison (also a gift as it is an eye for detail, but with social media it becomes unhealthy). I would ask myself “how is she doing it all?!” So even though you breath God and goodness and truth and family I could tell it was an influence that was not blessing me. But with this new change of wholeness and health I think I will stick around. Grateful for your honesty and vulnerability to put your life out there for others to learn from.

    • Shelley- I appreciate your honesty! I think it is something many of us can struggle with! So although I have to keep some things professional here and on IG, just like any job, I still like to be as open as possible about life as I navigate it one day at a time. Thanks for reading, and sticking around;)

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