Do you see that woman who is juggling her two kids, the cleanliness of her house, the social life of her husband and a full-time job? Do you see the other one who is teacher by day, artist by night, takes care of her ailing father on weekends and goes to the gym three times a week somewhere in between? What about the CEO who’s also a single mom to two teenagers, runs a support group for women who lost their mothers and mentors young women starting their own businesses?
You see them. You know them. You call them Superwomen, Super Mamas, Wonder Women or some other version of amazing.
And they are.
I hear this often too because one weekend I’m in Dubai coaching and one weekend I’m delivering training and in between I’m seeing clients and picking up my kids from school and preparing lunch and posting photos on Instagram of my 5k run and writing blog posts and going to the movies with my husband and it seems to outsiders like it’s all done in the space of ten days.
Some women shake their heads in wonder and ask, “How do you do it all?” And I or some other ‘`Wonder Woman’ might answer, “Do what all?” to rolling eyes and incredulous looks.
It’s not false modesty. It’s not pride. It’s not superhuman ability. It’s not a surplus of brains or giftedness or talent.
It’s an inability to operate any other way despite the desire to, despite exhaustion and being stretched too thin and lack of sleep and lack of time to enjoy whatever moments we’re actually speeding through.
Maybe at the core of it, it’s actually ‘not-enoughness’.
We do it all because often we don’t know how to ask for help or we don’t feel like we have other options, or we’re unable to compromise or we can’t let go of one thing in favor of another, we’re unable to prioritize or be patient, we feel a constant need to achieve more, to validate ourselves, to mother the world, or we just can’t let the little things go and be less than perfect, whatever that may look like in our skewed perspective.
Wonder Women have their own share of growing-into and learning and letting-go and evolving they need to do, just like everyone else. And it’s just as challenging as your growth. While you struggle to put down that Snickers, she struggles to sit down. While you struggle to breathe during Zumba, she struggles to take a breath between projects. While you cry to your BFF when you’re down, she cries in her pillow at 2am in the dark so no one can see, and while you struggle to enjoy the moment or accept yourself or find self-worth, believe it or not, so does she.
The truth is that this ‘Super Woman’ label can be quite exhausting to women who are already so good at exhausting themselves.
The truth is this ‘Wonder Woman’ label can be quite isolating to women who already struggle with sharing their weaknesses, can’t ask for help or don’t know how to solicit support.
I know Super Woman is meant to be a compliment, but so often it just doesn’t land that way.
It ends up being another bar she has to measure up to because, once, it was just her expecting so much of herself.
It’s everyone else too.