I’m Not Super Woman

As a little girl I remember watching the TV screen with child-like awe. Wonder Woman was my hero. She was powerful. She wore golden, bullet-deflecting bracelets. She never failed to defeat the enemy, and could change clothes in an instant. What little girl wouldn’t want to be her? I mean, who wouldn’t want to save the world in an hour? As I raced around my Technicolor living room, I was Wonder Woman. The Underoos proved it. Sounds like a glorious life, right?

We live in a day and age where the Super Woman mentality invades the female mind. In my early twenties I embraced this ideal of, “I can do it all.” I will have a wonderful career. I will marry Prince Charming. I will have perfect children. I will have a clean house, and meals will never be prepackaged. I will be volunteer of the month for my child’s classroom. I will teach youth Sunday school. I will successfully juggle ballet lessons, basketball practice, carpool schedules, and play dates daily.  I will stay fit and Prince Charming will always believe I am sexy. Why? Because I can do it all. I am Super Woman. I can save the world.

So why, more often than not, do I feel like a failure? If you are a woman in today’s culture, you may sometimes feel the same way. Regardless of the season we are in, the pressures to live up to the Super Woman mindset are immense. The message flies at us from every angle. Escaping the message appears impossible no matter how hard we might try to hide.

Several months ago, the reality of the Super Woman attitude glared at me from the mirror. I was a full-time teacher and also a curriculum writer. With two full time jobs as a teacher and a curriculum writer, on top of the already demanding occupation of wife and mother, I was drowning. Just as the curriculum-writing job ended, and some oxygen entered in my lungs, I changed teaching positions and schools to better meet the needs of our son. Crazy timing, right? However, I was Super Woman and had it all under control. What I didn’t realize was God had a plan. He had a lesson. I was about to go swimming in the deep end of the pool.

The next several months were spent barely keeping my head above water. We all know the feeling. Just as I would come up for air, something else would weigh me down. Every spare moment was used working. There were less than three waking hours with my children each day, and I was too exhausted to even think about the idea of quality time. As soon as the kids were in bed, I was working again. I would get home from work, stare at the freezer, and pray a healthy, well-balanced dinner would magically appear. My weekends were spent planning lessons for the next week. Who had time for walks in the neighborhood or trips to the park? Fortunately, my Prince Charming really is a prince, but he was sadly neglected as well. Do not believe for one moment I was enjoying my life. I wasn’t. I was not the teacher I wanted to be. I was not the wife I was supposed to be. I certainly was not the mother I needed to be. Feelings of failure set in. I was drowning—in desperate need of my life preserver.

Early one morning, my sweet Jesus threw me the line, and I hung on with white-tight knuckles. I have seldom heard the audible voice of our Lord. But on this morning I heard these words: Super Woman cannot save the world because if she does, her family fails. Simple, yet profound. I asked myself, had I been trying to save the world? Maybe not, but I had been trying to do it all. And I had done none of it well. Now what? How do these words translate into my life? How do I rid myself of the Super Woman image that is burned into my core?

Simply put – I replace it. Super Woman is not who the Creator of the Universe wants for me to be. I was never built to save the world, nor do I need to. Jesus Christ has already done that and defeated the enemy. God only wants me to be, well me. I realize now every action, every decision, every yes, and every no, must be tempered with the question, “Is this part of God’s plan for me or is it my Super Woman mentality guilting me again?”

My first step in this journey to shed the Underoos was no longer working my evenings and weekends away. What did not get done at work, stayed at work. The most beautiful realization, though it should not be, is that my work gets done and done well. God has honored my decision and has miraculously made sure I have enough time in my workday to finish all that must be completed. It only took my simple choice to be obedient to Him.

The next step is more painful and more difficult. It will be a long process. I am learning to say no. I am learning to buy cupcakes instead of make them. I am learning that my students are my ministry and may not be able to currently serve in my church. I am learning a frozen pizza in the middle of the week will not do irreparable harm to my children. I am learning to stop picking up dirty socks and tiny plastic farm animals when my son reaches up his pudgy hand and says, “Pway?” I am learning to stop in the middle of washing dishes and paint my daughter’s nails Pretty Hot Pink because she has heard, “I will later,” more than she ever should. I am learning I am not Super Woman, and my family is better because of it.

Tomorrow is a school holiday. There are student journals to grade. My floors need to be mopped. Coupons need to be cut. The dog needs a bath. Super Woman could get all of that done. As for me, I think I might head to the park with Prince Charming and the two most beautiful children I know. Maybe life really is a fairy tale after all.

This blog originally appeared as an article in the Broward edition of GoodNews Florida, May 2012: I’m Not Super Woman Article

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23 Responses to I’m Not Super Woman

  1. Heidi says:

    Well, that made me cry!!! Beautifully said and even more beautifully done! : ) Love you, sister!

  2. Lynn says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post. Although I may be at a very different stage in my life I can relate. I needed this today! Isn’t He awesome!

  3. Wendy says:

    I am SOOO extremely proud of you!! Thank you for sharing your gift and what God has laid on your heart. I LOVE YOU!!!

  4. Christine Newton says:

    I love this, Heather. AMEN!!

  5. Julie says:

    I think I need to put up post-it notes all around the house, car, and work to remind me that I’M NOT SUPER WOMEN(because I don’t have to be)!!!!! “I was never built to save the world, nor do I need to. Jesus Christ has already done that and defeated the enemy.” what a statement, this had the wheels in my head turning. Something I have been told, something I know and believe, and still something I stuggle with. GREAT blog Heather!!!!!

  6. Polly says:

    I may not have little ones any longer, and sadly, I’m no longer married…but I was still able to relate to this! So beautifully written…thank you for sharing and I look so forward to more! Oh to be creative!!!

    • Thank you, Polly. I think no matter the season of life we are in, we can relate to many of the same stuggles of life…especially when society seems to be asking more of us than Jesus:-)

  7. Linda Kennedy says:

    I am a friend of your Mother’s and your article made me so very proud of you as I know she must be. My whole working career as a Mother and wife I also always thought myself to be Superwomen (Wonder Women was after my time). I have looked back over those years and felt such guilt in knowing that quality time with children and family was missed. You are such an insightful young woman to realize this while your children are still young. Believe me all those years of raising your children go by so quickly, I know it does not seem like it now to you but you will understand soon. Don’t miss a single simple moment of listening to one of their stories, or combing their hair, or just letting them cry when they get hurt and you can give them a hug because you are there and paying attention to what they need at that moment. Oh how I wish I had never said “wait a minute, no not now I am busy or hurry up I need to go”. God does need to be there with you all along the way because it won’t be easy. I love the blog and I pray that other young Mother’s will be blessed with your words.

    • What a blessing your words are! And I know exactly who you are:-) Not only were you mom’s friend, I think you were my 5th grade Sunday School teacher, or one of those years…. I really appreciate your encouragement.

  8. Dianne Guthrie says:

    Our Lord’s Message always remains the same throughout the years. He spoke those same words to me while I was in my 30’s, as well. That was some 38+ years ago!! I listened. I obeyed. I focused on the precious family He gave me. I have never regreted a single, solitary moment. I am now extending those very same wise instructions from the Lord to my three grandchildren. I am involved. I am available. My life is filled with sweet, immeasurable joy as a result. I do not miss the “things” I set aside in those early years. Instead, I enjoy all the wonderful memories of the past and enjoy the making of new ones with my precious grandchildren. It is a rare thing for someone of your incredible talent and energy to have listened and found one of the many treasures of our Lord’s wisdom. You will never regret your choices. “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!!”

  9. Dad says:

    So Blessed to see you using your God given talent with a heart for the Lord. Very much looking forward to following your journey here in Petals of Joy.

  10. Cathy Ratliff says:

    Ditto…that is all!

  11. Breanne says:

    Heather this is awesome and I look forward to reading many more blogs from you! I am so happy for you that you are doing what you love and those 2 kids are so lucky to have you as their mom. I decided when Rylee was about 2 that I was going to focus just on her and not use the “Wait a minute or we will do it later”. I totally relate with the stopping in the middle of something to do something with the kids. I know that the house will still be there, there will always be laundry to be done, the dishes will always need to be washed and so on, but I will never have a chance to recreate the memories with her. I soak them up while I can get them. I know that the day will come when hanging out with Mommy all day won’t be the “cool” thing. We all need to focus on that statement you made and realize what is actually important and how they grow up so quick.

  12. I’m pretty sure you just held a mirror up to my life! Thanks for sharing the truths of God’s Word and for your transparent heart! So looking forward to visiting this blog often!

  13. Camille Wilson says:

    Every season of life brings new sets of rules for our ‘super woman’ mentality. Your words are timely for every age. I have battled the ‘am I doing enough’ mantra most of my life. At this stage of life I truly know I must check with God, He always comes through and urges me in the right direction. Thanks for sharing.