It’s official, I am suffering from superwoman disease!

For years I have felt pressure from all sides, myself included, to be able to do and achieve anything and everything. I was raised by parents who expected perfection and anything else was just not acceptable. This vain struggle to be ‘perfect’ has led me to try to be that ubiquitous superwoman that previous generations of women have struggled to give us the opportunity to be.

I have always been a high achiever, blessed with a brilliant memory, academics came very easily. Once in the workforce I  had very early career successes which started me on the path to management very early, attaining my own department at 21.

Despite a focus on career, I married young and started a family. My first child was the perfect baby, by 4 weeks of age she was sleeping 12 hours a night which made returning to work not much of a drama. Pregnant with my second child when the first was only 6 months old things started to unravel slightly. I had a difficult pregnancy with threatened miscarriages and then premature labour which saw me hospitalised on and off for 6 weeks.

My second child was quite ill for the first years of her life, for about 2 and a half years she had to have medication of some sort every 2 hours, 24/7. If I slept at all it was in about 45 minute intervals.

Despite chronic sleep deprivation I persisted with the idea that I had to be able to cope with everything. I continued to work, albeit I did cut down to part-time, mainly due to lack of care available for my daughter. More importantly, I continued to tell everybody that I was fine, I felt I had to maintain the facade at all costs or let down the sisterhood.

Then, just as I may have been able to get on top of things I found myself pregnant with my third child (to this day I really do not know how that happened). I was so determined to prove I could still cope with everything that life threw at me that I gave birth to my son on a Saturday and was back at work on the Wednesday. What madness!

I could already see that my marriage was not going to survive, my husband at the time did not cope with the responsibility of a sick child, and I decided that I needed to be fully prepared to support the children on my own. So, there I was, 3 children under 5, single working mother and I went back to study, cramming in 3 nights a week of lectures and making time for assignments and homework in between work and the children.

Thankfully I found a new, very supportive husband and life seemed to be looking rosy, he took on the responsibility of my 3 children as if they were his own. Did I stop to breathe and enjoy life? Not a chance. I took on a new role as General Manager, decided to commit to more years of study to complete my masters, renovated our home and generally set about trying to maintain the myth that it is possible to be superwoman.

Now my children are all just about grown up (21,20 & 17) and I should be enjoying that fact that at only 43 I have time to enjoy myself, take a break and have some fun. Is that what is on the cards? Nope, I have just taken on a new role as CFO of a group that contains 86 companies, I sit on the board of a new charity, I sit on the advisory board of another fledgling organisation and I have even started to think that it is time to do some more study, keep the brain active.

Why this compulsion? When am I going to be comfortable to just say, ‘you know what I can’t cope with anything more, and that’s OK’? We have so much choice now that sometimes we fail to realise that enough is enough, we are taking the idea of equality to the extreme, striving to be better to prove we are equal does not make a lot of sense.

Lets decide that removing the ‘super’ does not belittle us as women!

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  1. I’m exhausted reading it so I can’t imagine living it, but when thinking about my own life as a single mum and working and doing all those things that need doing in between, I suppose we just do what we need to do. I’m not sure there is anything super in it. I’m all for removing it.

  2. This really resonated with me. I finaly moved past the need to be superwoman and gave myself permission to put my happiness as the number one priority (within the confines of my obligation as a mother of course). The process of giving myself permission took many years though and even now I sometimes I drift back. At the end of the day though, I have concluded that I have nothing left to prove to anyone and most of all myself.


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