Superwoman Is Overrated: Moms, There Is No Shame In Asking For Help
I hate asking for help. I’m not sure why, but it might stem from being an only child and being used to not having siblings around me growing up. I guess you could say I’m just used to doing things on my own.
For a long time, I firmly believed that I could conquer the world, do anything and everything whenever I wanted, without help. That is until I became a mother.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that I can conquer the world, but having kids has added pandemonium to my life and made me relinquish complete control, even when I so desperately try to hold on to it.
When discussing our neverending to-do lists, one of my best friends called me a “superwoman.” I assumed that she was referring to the amount of tasks I’m able to get done, at home and with work, within 24 hours. My definition, as well as that of the masses, is simply “a woman who can do it all, very well.” I decided to look up the formal definition and according to Merriam-Webster, a superwoman is “an exceptional woman; especially: a woman who succeeds in having a career and raising a family.”
Who wouldn’t want this title? Being a superwoman means you are amazing! You make it all work and more importantly, you have your sh-t together, all by yourself.
While this term is usually seen as a compliment, I couldn’t help but think about the adverse affects that it can have on a mother if she is labeled as, or desires to be labeled as such.
When I looked at the meaning of the word superwoman, I focused on the part that said “succeeds.” What does that really mean in this context? I can guess that many women would feel that in order to truly succeed in “having a career” and “raising a family,” certain requirements have to be met. That includes completing their daily to-do list (at home), achieving happiness at their job (receiving wanted promotions or keeping employers happy), and rearing polite, gifted and beautiful children. If she’s married, add keep the hubby happy and not for want of anything to the list.
Comic book superheroes are fictional, just as the aforementioned expectations are unrealistic. You can accomplish all that you want to undertake, but not by yourself.
I believe that there are a couple of reasons why mothers don’t ask for assistance. For example, when we moved to a different state about a month before our youngest child was born, I had a couple of women offer to help me pack and prepare for the move if I needed it. While their gesture was sincere, I never reached out. Did I need help? Of course, but help with what? It didn’t seem right to call them, all of whom live at least 45 minutes away, to have someone fold laundry or take my dog to the vet.
I needed a clone, literally, to get everything done when I wanted it done, but bothering someone to help with what seemed to be minute tasks didn’t make sense to me.
Not only that, but judgment comes along with motherhood, and guilt comes from feeling as though you’re being judged. You can do the best you can but still feel affected by someone else’s comments and critiques. This is especially true if they come from a person from a past generation who lists all of the things they got done with twice as many kids at a much younger age and with absolutely no help from their husband.
You feel like you have to prove something to yourself, and others, by trying to do everything yourself and by not asking for any help. You might think that asking for help can make you seem less than stellar and as if you don’t have your life as together as you would like. But the sad part about not asking for support is that you eliminate any time for yourself and you drastically increase your stress levels. In order to be a success in raising your family and maintaining a great career, you have to take time for yourself and the only way to do that is to seek out extra pairs of hands to get things done. There’s no shame in it. In fact, your family will thank you — and you will thank yourself.