The Superwoman Myth

A few days ago, there was a heated discussion (one-sided but heated anyway) on Facebook about a certain yogurt ad praising Filipina women as superwomen. We can do it all, it said. We can wake up with a smile on our faces, make breakfast for the kids, exercise, travel to work, then come home and make dinner, tuck our husbands into bed, then settle down to read a book and get up again the next day to do it all again. All the while eating our superfood: yogurt. Right.

I know what the ad is trying to do. I know they have good intentions and they want to praise us and say they are our partners in being the superwomen that we are. But really, as much as I love the yogurt and it is the exact one I buy for myself and my superbabies, I do not believe in this superwoman ideal. In fact, I was thinking of ways to make a better commercial for this yogurt that I enjoy. Because this one just doesn’t sit well with me.

First of all, I know it cannot happen. We cannot do it all alone. We cannot be superwomen and wake up with smiles on our faces. We cannot tuck Husband in at night then read a book (although I usually lie in bed next to my sleeping family reading my kindle late into the night when I really should be asleep—maybe there is some truth to this ad after all).

But this superwoman ideal is not healthy (unlike the yogurt!). I used to believe I could do it all. I don’t have a yaya, I take care of my girls, I take care of my household (badly but we’re all still alive), and I work. I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, but I write books, I write articles, I edit magazines. And I want to do even more. All the while asking myself: WHY?! Why the hell am I trying to be this mother, this superwoman? Who am I trying to impress? Who am I trying to prove wrong?

Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me. Why do I think I can do it all? Why do I want to do it all? Why do I say yes when I know I will suffer in the end? Because I get carried away, because I believe it’s possible. Because I want a life. But the reality, harsh though it is, is this: THIS is my life. This messy house. This scrambling to find the homework notebook at 6:30 AM because we didn’t get to prepare it the night before. This makeup class for The Little Gym because we missed so many, the teacher almost forgot Tammy was actually enrolled (well, not really). This scrounging for change because I wasn’t able to prepare my delivery fee before the courier comes to pick up a book for delivery. This madness that is my life. This madness that my husband cannot understand. That no one can understand.

I blame the yogurt.

Just kidding.

I blame the belief that we HAVE to do it all. Why can’t I be satisfied with doing just some of it? Why can’t I accept that right now, I have to focus on my kids? Why can’t I accept that I have to fix my house and my household before my husband sweeps everything into a trash bag and hands it over to the school junk drive? I need to accept that life is finite. I am finite. This doesn’t mean my dreams are too, or my goals. But what I have to work with is, and the sooner I realize this, the sooner I can strive toward becoming infinite. I like that: infinite—a lot more than superwoman anyway.

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