I’m sure there are some folks who would feel complimented if someone referred to them as “Super Woman”, but I’m not one of them… let me explain why.
As many of my friends do, on Facebook, I sometimes share the events of my day. I talk about my best friend visiting, plans we have, things I do with my son, weekends with my hubby, crafting I enjoy, the support group I’ve organized, the chores I do around the house, etc. I look at this practice as a way we share a snapshot of our lives with one another across the miles. It gives me a more personal look at my friends, making me feel as though I’m able to share a bit of their lives with them.
I am responsible for all the typical household chores, i.e., cooking, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, dishes, laundry, etc. I’m also responsible for bagging garbage, cleaning/changing litter boxes, walking/grooming my dog, pooper scooping the backyard, feeding and watering the pets.
I’m home all day, my husband works two jobs, so the household responsibilities are mine.
When I was growing up at home, from the time I was 7 or 8 years old, I had a list of chores that were my responsibility. As I got older the list got longer. I was taught that chores come before leisure activities and that chores need to be done properly, not glossed over to get through them so you can do something you really want to do. This was one expectation my mother had that I could understand. She would say, “why would you want to have that hanging over your head?” If I didn’t do what needed to be done and I knew it was something I still had to get to, I found it difficult to enjoy other activities and ultimately felt guilty for putting it off. That is still true, for me, today.
I often wake and don’t feel well, have significant chronic pain, swollen joints, migraine headaches. I struggle with chronic fatigue as my disability makes just about everything difficult, requiring a lot of effort. I’m thankful for my power chair, as without it, I would never be able to care for my home and family.
I’ve learned, over the years, how to adapt chores that need to be done, so I can accomplish what needs to be done from my power chair. I want to feel as though I’m contributing, as if I’m ‘doing my share’.
I’ve been embarrassed, in the past, when a ‘family member’ or friend of my husband’s has commented about the condition of the house, or that they were surprised I didn’t keep house better, seeing as how I’m home all day.
I take my responsibilities seriously. I have a commitment to meet. There are people, my family, depending on me. I don’t feel I have the choice to ‘not’ do what I can.
Because I feel badly, so often, I usually let chores accumulate and tackle them on a day when I’m not feeling so bad, so I have a lot I need to accomplish when I do finally get going. I then push myself, push through the pain, keep going until all my chores are done, because I don’t know when I’ll feel up to tackling chores again. I usually pay dearly for a few days after completing my chores, with inflammation and swelling, back and body pain, pinched nerves flare up, etc. It’s more or less cyclical… a day of chores, several days of pain and recovery, a day of chores, several days of pain and recovery, etc.
I don’t believe that taking care of your responsibilities makes you a ‘super woman’, I don’t believe that meeting one’s commitments makes you a ‘super woman’, I don’t believe that doing your share in taking care of your family makes you a ‘super woman’ or that being productive makes you a ‘super woman’. I don’t think I do anything that any other wife or mother doesn’t do.
When people tell me “you’re a super woman”, “you’re just amazing”, to me, that feels condescending. Why am I super or amazing, for doing what any other woman can do? because I have disabilities? because I do what I do from the seat of a power chair?
I don’t see myself as different than anyone else. Yes, I’ve had to adapt how I do things, so I can continue doing them, but really, we all do that, without thinking about it.
I had a friend share with me once, her perception of why people do this… (I have to paraphrase) ‘people tell you what you do is amazing and you’re super woman to make themselves feel better, to minimize their own shortcomings. If they convince themselves that what you are doing is abnormal, superhuman somehow, they don’t have to feel guilty about not meeting expectations, meeting their responsibilities, following through on their commitments.’
When people say “I work, I’m tired, I have a child, I just don’t have the energy and time to get things done, I just want to ask… don’t I have things to do every day? don’t I get tired? don’t I have a child with special needs? I made a commitment, I assumed responsibilities, the same as we all do… why am I ‘amazing’ for taking that seriously and trying to meet them?
I’m not amazing, I’m not a super woman, I want to contribute, I have a strong work ethic, I try to live my life with integrity. I thought that’s what we all were supposed to be striving for…
I’m sure some folks might not understand why I feel the way I do, I’m sure they might see ‘you’re super woman’ as a compliment and I’m sure I could probably express the way I feel more effectively, but I don’t appreciate those kinds of ‘compliments’.
I feel better now. 🙂