Posted in A Day In the Life

You Can Be Super Without Having to Be Superwoman!

One of the things that I remember from the 1980’s about being a strong, independent woman was this phrase: “you can have it all.” Turns out you really couldn’t have it all. What the phrase honestly meant was, “you can do it all.” You can raise kids, have a career, take care of a home, volunteer and have the time and energy to bake Martha Stewart cookies on the weekend .

My life looked more like this: work a 65 hour week, collapse on Friday night. Be grateful that I don’t have kids. Drag my yaya to the grocery store on Saturday morning. Sleep all day Sunday, then get up and do it again. Screw homemade cookies. And what was amazing was that around me were lots of women who did have kids and managed far better than I could without them. Most of the women I knew back then were always on the edge of burnout. Because, we wanted to have it all.

Fast forward to present time and another insidious phrase is clawing its way into the psyche of the culture and it’s STILL about “You can do it all.” It refers to superwoman and their superpowers. Seems like everyone has a breast-plate and a friggin’ super power. I think women today have it only slightly better than my generation did — if they’re with a partner, chances are the division of labor is more equitable than it was in the 1980’s. Except that you have to allow for a wave of women raising kids on their own without any physical or emotional support from the outside. We can call these women superwomen with super powers, but sometimes I fear that saying is just a way to make women feel bad that they can’t do everything and have any energy or balance left at all.

Could it be as simple as redefining the words and phrases that we use? Does strength and courage have to mean bad-ass? Or can it mean standing up when you get kicked down, even if your knees are skinned? Can independence mean saying “no” to some of the stuff you didn’t want to take on in the first place?

I’m retired now, but I haven’t let that stop me from grasping at the same kind of drive that I had in my thirties — the one that told me I could have it all. Though I now have the time to write, read and study, I do so with a ferocious discipline that puts me back in a time and a place where I believed that I was supposed to WANT it all, let alone, have it all.

Recently I’ve begun to think that if I really could have it all; if one day I was awarded it all, would I know what to do with it? That thought gives me pause and makes me consider my Labrador retriever: if you catch the squirrel buddy, what are you going to do with it?

I have to remind myself . . . a lot . . . that life is never meant to be one giant “To Do’ list. It’s meant to be an experience of the senses and an enlivening of the heart — if I could remember that, I think that the rest would probably just fall into place. Maybe that’s what courage really is.

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

14 thoughts on “You Can Be Super Without Having to Be Superwoman!

  1. I agree with you, totally. Now and then I get a burst of energy and believe I can tackle all the projects I used to do, and when it burns out I realize it’s not the way I want to live my life anymore in my retirement. Just focus on the sweetest stuff!

  2. “life is never meant to be one giant ‘To Do’ list.”–Something I needed to hear right about now. Thank you for the reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “need” to do that we forget to just “be.”

  3. It’s so hard to give up on being more, having more and, of course, doing more. But as you say, if you open yourself up to “experience of the senses and an enlivening of the heart”, you might be pleasantly surprised at how everything works out. And you may even have more energy! What a great post, Stephanie!

  4. “How present can you become?” is the question I try to focus on when I feel like I am too much into TO-DO lists. In reality, all we have is the present moment and we should make the most of it.

    1. We do always want to seem more — what’s up with that?! I guess it will always be my “work” to count my blessings and gratitudes and let the rest be the rest. Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Ah, Stephanie–we rarely leave our ‘need to stay on schedule’ even after we retire. We are just internally wired. I love the question, “what are you going to do with that squirrel, Jetter, now that you caught it…now what?’ And so it goes….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.