In preparation for a writer’s conference at the end of this February, I will be posting some of your favorite blogs and some of mine. A few, like I’m Not Super Woman, will be revised versions of their first edition. Please enjoy the truths God spoke to my heart and so many others since last fall.
As a little girl I watched the TV screen with child-like awe. As I raced around my Technicolor living room, I was Wonder Woman. The Underoos proved it. Wonder Woman was my hero. She was powerful. Wearing golden, bullet-deflecting bracelets, she never failed to defeat the enemy. In a blur, clothes changed in an instant. What little girl wouldn’t want to be her? Who wouldn’t want to save the world in an hour?
We live in an age where the Super Woman mentality plagues the female mind. In my early twenties I embraced the “I can do it all” mentality. I will have a wonderful career. Prince Charming will ask me to dance at the ball and will always find me sexy. My children will be perfect. The house will be immaculate, and meals will never be prepackaged. My name will be engraved on The Volunteer of the Month plaque for my child’s school. I will successfully juggle ballet lessons, basketball practice, carpool schedules, and play dates daily. Oh, the plans I had!
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 feel the same way. Regardless the season 0f life 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 try to hide.
The reality of the Super Woman attitude glared at me from the mirror over a year ago. 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 in the deep end of the pool.
My time was spent barely keeping my head above water. 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 got home from work, stared at the freezer, and prayed 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 even he was feeling neglected.
Do not believe for one moment I was enjoying my life. I wasn’t. I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be. I wasn’t the wife I was supposed to be. I certainly wasn’t the mother I needed to be. Feelings of failure set in. I gulped water instead of air and sank to the bottom.
Early one morning, my sweet Jesus threw me a life-preserver, 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. Jesus Christ has already provided us with His salvation 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 to no longer work my evenings and weekends away. What did not get done at work, stayed at work. The most beautiful realization is God has honored my decision and 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. Store bought cupcakes when my weeks are packed-full don’t equal failure. My ministry is first to my family, then my students—I may not be able to serve in my church right now. A frozen pizza in the middle of the week will not do irreparable harm to my children. Picking up dirty socks and tiny plastic farm animals when my son reaches up his pudgy hand and asks, “Pway?,” means I miss the good stuff. I should sometimes 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 Saturday. 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 just soak up my moments with Prince Charming and the two most beautiful children I know. Maybe life really is a fairy tale after all.
The original “I’m Not Super Woman” appeared July 17, 2012.